34 Vintage Ads That Prove The Good Old Days Weren’t So Good

by Meghan Sara

As Billy Joel once sang, “The good old days weren’t always good.”  If you think advertising is sexist bullshit NOW, oh boy, you’re gonna want to sit down for this one. Get ready to take a trip back, way back, to a time when newspapers and magazines ran ads like these without a second thought to sexism. Enough talk, let’s dive right in:

cankles ad

Oh, sweetie, did you think the “cankles” obsession was a recent phenomenon? I mean, it may be against the customs of public decency for a man to see your ankles, but BY GUM, if he’s going to see that sliver of skin betwixt your shoe & dress hem, it should be SLIM! Don’t these rubber “reduction garments” look COMFORTABLE?! Kinda like Spanx, but for your face.  

Lysol ad

Yes, your husband will walk right the fuck out on his family over “feminine hygiene.”  

Incompatible hygeine ad

Another family torn apart by “feminine hygiene!” Obviously!  Now just to ask, what the hell does “feminine hygiene” actually mean, Lysol?

Is a wife to blame if she doesnt know YES YES SHE FUCKING IS

“Is a wife to blame if she doesn’t already know what feminine hygiene is? Oh hell yes, yes she fucking is. Of course.” Oh! Thanks, Zonite! All this time I’ve been douching with vingar and soda (Wait, WHAT? Are we making a “Vagina Volcano” for the science fair? That sounds like a TERRIBLE IDEA). And a reminder, your husband will walk right out on you over it.

Such little things like whatever TF hes looking at

…because men are irked by “such little things!” Like…whatever the fuck he’s looking at. Thank god they drew a dotted line, I’d have no idea what this dude is making shit-stank face at. “Gap-osis.” Shudder. By the look on his face, you’d think gap-osis would have completely destroyed our society by now — except that gaps between buttons occur naturally on everyone’s clothes when they sit down? Oh, phew, for a second there I was seriously worried. Someone build Stankface McGee up here a bridge, so he can get over himself.

beach bodies oh here we go

Even today, there are no shortage of ads telling you to get a “beach body.” The beach body: cause for serious concern and careful deliberation since apparently, fucking forever. But it’s really, really complicated:

Dont be skinny

First off, definitely don’t be “skinny”…

BUt you know DO be skinny

…but don’t be “FAT!” Okay, got it? Don’t be skinny, but don’t be fat. To recap:

to recap dont be skinny 

DON’T BE SKINNY buuuuuut…

but definitely DONT BE FAT

….but definitely don’t be fat. Just keep see-sawing between these two handy products! So, don’t be skinny, don’t be fat, is that too vague for you? Need some concrete specifics? Okay, just do all this and you’ll be fine:

How to marry a millionaire

Just alter the natural state of every part of your torso, from shoulders to butt, and you’ll marry a millionaire! (* actual millionare results may vary). “But Meghan,” you say, “is this all really that important?”

men want PRETTY not CLEVER

YES. Yes it is. There’s no “coasting on charm” here! Pull your head out of your ass and 10 cents out of your pocket and get some damn Palmolive, woman!

See, it’s very important that you try very hard to be presentable for men… 

Tangee because dont wear lipstick but DO wear lipstick

…but not too hard. Wear lipstick! But for heaven’s sake, don’t look like you’re wearing lipstick! Just be an effortless, natural beauty…

Sexy like a child

LIKE A CHILD! Oh my Toddlers and Tiaras, is she SEXY AF or WHAT? Yep. While you’re picking pieces of your own brain off the floor and stuffing your eyes back into their rightful sockets, here’s even more WTFery from vintage ads:


Sure, she seems great, BUT CAN SHE COOK?

women are for cooking

Everyone knows, women are made for COOKING.

didnt burn the beer

“The beer is fine! Why are you crying? Oh, is it because…”

beware the other women

“…is it because you’re constantly innudated with messages reinforcing perfection at all costs? How silly!”

toilet paper makes you cross we all knew this

“…is it because you forgot to buy the right kind toilet paper?  That’s your own fault, dear.”

why you should beat your wife

“Spousal abuse? Are you upset about that? Come come, dear.”

and ohmigod dont forget to keep your stockings perfect

“…Just keep those stockings perfect and I wouldn’t have to hit you!”

middle aged skin oh noh helllp

“…And don’t forget to never age. Show some restraint, woman!”

grat hair cost her her job

“Oh, and dear, make sure to buy me the right shirts. You know the kind I like…”

spanky rapey shirts

“…the spankey, rapey kind. THOSE are the shirts I like.”


Ha ha men are so funny!

is it always illegal to kill a woman

HA HA SEE? MEN ARE SO FUNNY. Always threatening to kill us over incorrect postage. Is it still illegal to kill a woman?  I’m not even sure anymore.

deodorant xed out eyes

Ah, because nothing says “serial killer” like X-ing out a woman’s facial features.

beautiful but dumb

Oh, did you think we gave two shits about a woman’s intelligence? We covered this. NOPE, we just care about selling you deodorant. And we’re going to insult you, too!

dummies dont sweat okay lars enjoy your real girl

Yeah, idiot girl, even literal dummies know better than to sweat! Enjoy your “real girl,” Lars.

no for real enjoy the real girl what the fuck seriously

No, for real, enjoy dating that $3 mounted head on your wall, because no actual woman ever is going to achieve the impossible standards of beauty you demand of her in these stupid goddamn ads.

Your flaws omg hellraiser

In case you forgot, you’re just covered in flaws. Better put on the Hellraiser helmet and fix your whole damn self, you disgusting, stinking, horrifying creature, you!

tonic wine bye bye depression

Depressed? You bet I am. Pass the “phosferine tonic wine,” please.

smirnoff yep same

Same, girlfriend. Same.


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Founded in 1993, BUST is the inclusive feminist lifestyle trailblazer offering a unique mix of humor, female-focused entertainment, uncensored personal stories, and candid reporting that tells the truth about women’s lives.

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