No Bodies Perfect- Even Barbie

collage New Curvy Barbie Curvy and vintage ad for gaining weight to skinny women

New Curvy Barbie (L) agrees “Men Wouldn’t Look at Me When I Was Skinny”

I’m worried about Petite Barbie.

Now that America’s ideal beauty standards are evolving as full-figured, voluptuous bodies like Kim Kardashian and Beyoncé have become iconic and widely emulated, newly minted Petite Barbie may suffer the indignity of lingering on the shelves, overshadowed by her curvoliscious sister Curvy Barbie now basking in a media frenzy.

The brand new Curvy Barbie with some ample meat on her thighs and a protruding tummy has just the right curves to fill out her body hugging tankini, but poor Petite Barbie just doesn’t…well…. stack up. Let the body shaming begin.

Will original Barbie now humiliated by her less than endowed bottom, join the current legion of other curve-challenged women wanting to appear more bootyliscious who are frantically wriggling into padded panties strategically stuffed with foam and silicone gel pads on their hips and butts to adapt to this new ideal?

collage Barbie and Vintage book How to Gain Weight

Poor Petite Barbie. Suddenly she woke up in this new Bizzarro world where Curvy Barbie is flying off the shelf . Eyeballing her lackluster bust, skimpy hips, and her flat non-existent bum, she might worry that she needs to plump up.

Bizarro world?

Not really.

Body shaming began long before Barbie. Americans have long had an ideal type when it comes to women’s beauty but the shape itself has gone back to the drawing board every few years altering the standard and poundage allowed to be deemed desirable.

Mattel is to be applauded in coming out with 3 different bodies for Barbie. (Curvy, Tall and Petite will be sold side by side with the original wasp-waisted Barbie)  a bold attempt to be body positive in a culture where sadly it seems no bodies perfect. No matter your body shape or size, body shaming has gone viral and like a true pathogen is as insidious, chameleon-like and ultimately harmful to girl and women.

Don’t You Want a Body You Won’t be Ashamed of?

vintage illustration No skinny scare crow for me Body shaming

Body Shaming retro style

That question asked in a 1950’s ad is one every woman can understand, but that headline was for an ad to gain weight, not lose it.

Trying on bathing suits was as mortifying 60 years ago as it is today- but for some unlucky slim-hipped girls it was for a very different reason.

What was a gal to do if she just didn’t have the luscious eye-catching curves required to fill out a mid-century swimsuit?

Tooth Pick Tessie

vintage ad gain weight for skinny women

Take poor Tessie. If she heard the words “skinny Minnie” or “toothpick Tessie” one more time, she’d pull her Toni Home Permanent hair out.

Her days were devoted to taking dictation and pounding the keys to her Royal typewriter, so you’d think she’d have developed a good case of “office hips’ or a decent “secretarial spread” in all this time, but it was no use.

Even those extra malted milk shakes she downed at the lunch counter did nothing to help.Tessie dreaded going to parties and socials simply because she was scrawny and spindly. What man would look at her?

It was a shame suffered in silence.

Now with swimsuit season a few months away, she despaired of missing out yet again of all the beach fun. The closest she’d get to a pool was the office secretarial pool.

Home Alone

Vintage ad Numal Gain Weight

Vintage ad Numal Gain Weight

One lonely Saturday night while flipping through an issue of Modern Romance Magazine Tess spied an ad that seemed to speak directly to her.

The headline asked the burning question that haunted all women: “Don’t You Want a Body You Won’t be Ashamed of?”

How long have you suffered and been called skinny scrawny or bag of bones. How long have you sat on the sidelines while love, romance, and excitement passed you by?

Would you like to look into your mirror and see a healthy well-rounded body with curves where they belong?

Curves Cured

Vintage ad Gain Weight for skinny girls

Lucky for Tessie help was right around the corner.

With NUWATE tablets, alluring, seductive curves could be hers with “this new and ez way. ”

This wonder preparation that contains medically proven vitamins that will add pounds of firm flesh to your bones. All this could be yours with NUWATE.”

Use NUWATE to add charm and flesh and you will soon have people turn to look at you with new admiration.

But wait there’s more…


Vintage ad MORE-WATE gain weight tablets

Vintage ad MORE-WATE gain weight tablets

Turning the page Tessie found yet another ad that jumped off the page, promising more of the same.

“Are you afraid to be seen socially and ashamed of your figure?” Tessie blushed in recognition.

With the help of new miraculous MORE-WATE tablets, no more skinny scare crow for you!
Don’t be a wallflower because you have a figure like a broomstick? Why should you dread going to parties Why ever feel self-conscious about your body again?

MORE –WATE was an amazing new development developed by modern medical science to put weight on.

Wait a minute . What were the magic ingredients in this miracle pleasant tasting tablet?

It seems the secret ingredient was Vitamin B 12, “the amazing red vitamin doctors give many underweight patients in hospitals…it contains iron and appetite building vitamin B1…and it contains easily assimilated malt, the amazing ingredient that helps your body turn much of the food you eat into well-rounded flesh, instead of being wasted.”


Vintage ad WATE-ON Dont be skinny

Vintage ad WATE-ON

Yes, you could achieve a rounded bust and luscious curves with this one little tablet. No hormone pills or Mark Eden Bust developers needed

This secret ingredient had been around for 20 years.

A Body to Be Proud Of

Diet Gain Wate Crying 37 SWScan01700

In the 1930’s scrawny gals cried themselves to sleep taunted by cries of skinny! Being skinny was a desperate lonely life, at least according to the ads.

Vintage ad Gain weight ironized yeast 1930s

Vintage ad No Excuse to be Skinny -Gain Weight ironized yeast 1930s

But with the recent discovery of vitamins, help was on its way to the knowledgeable gal.

For the modern miss, there was no excuse in being be skinny.  Scientists had recently discovered that many people were  thin for the single reason they did not get enough Vitamin B. Taken in the form of yeast, it was touted as nothing short of a miracle, curing everything from sluggish digestion, low pep to adding luscious curves to m’ladys scrawny body.

Vintage ad 1937 Gain Weight Don't Be Skinny Ironized Yeast

Vintage ad 1937 Gain Weight Don’t Be Skinny Ironized Yeast

“Now there’s no longer any excuse for thousands to remain skinny, laughed at and friendless,” promised this ad run by Ionized Yeast Company in 1937. “For hosts of people who thought they were born to be skinny and who never could gain an ounce before, have gained 10 to 25 pounds of solid naturally attractive flesh with this new easy treatment.”

Lonely No More – So Long Skinny

vintage ad gain Weight So Long Skinny

Vintage ad Ironized Yeast Gain Weight “Now one of the richest known source is cultured yeast. 7-Powered Ironized yeast tablet will do the trick, to new charm and alluring curves.”

“Available  from your druggist for  new personality, new charm, new pep and loads of new friends.”

Just see what happened to Winnie:


vintage ad Diet Gain Weight Add Pounds 1935

Vintage ad 1935 Ionized Yeast Gian Weight New Pounds for Skinny Figures “Now thousands are quickly gaining beauty bringing pounds. Ionized yeast tables made from brewers ale yeast imported from Europe.”

Day after day as you take Ironized Yeast, watch ugly, gawky angles fill out, flat chests develop and skinny limbs round out attractively.


Don’t Let Them Call You Skinny!

Vintage advertisement Wate-On

Vintage advertisement Wate-On

It didn’t take long for Tessie to be one of the crowd again. With her new form and glamorous, seductive curves she was mighty  proud to mingle with friends.

Before long her amazed co workers were wondering: Say was that Marilyn Monroe swimming in the secretarial pool, or could that be WATE-ON Tessie?


© Sally Edelstein and Envisioning The American Dream, 2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Sally Edelstein and Envisioning The American Dream with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.



  1. Well its always a two street in any picture!


  2. Pingback: Barbie’s Body Evolves | Envisioning The American Dream

  3. *

    In the Flintstones’ age;

    and still
    “Women fight Mauritania’s fattening tradition”

    I chew! Woman who was ‘fattened up’ by jealous boyfriend to deter love rivals says yes to marriage proposal after two years of binge-eating

    Model spends $120,000 on 15 surgeries and has SIX RIBS removed in her quest for a 14-inch waist – because she wants to look like a cartoon character
    Bill Haley And His Comets – Skinny Minnie (covered among others by the Beatles in early years)

    Larry Williams ::::Short Fat Fannie. (June ’57)

    BILL HALEY & HIS COMETS – LEAN JEAN – [DECCA 9-30681/25650] – 1958 – wmv

    Big Fat Mama Blues Tommy Johnson.wmv

    Status Quo – Big Fat Mama (1975)

    Charlie Spand- Big Fat Mama Blues

    John Lee Hooker – Big Legs,Tight Skirt

    MISSISSIPPI JOHN HURT – Big Leg Blues [1928]

    ‘Big Leg Woman Gets My Pay’ BLIND BOY FULLER, Blues Guitar Legend (1939)


    Jerry Lee Lewis – Big Legged Woman

    Bow Legged Woman – CJ Chenier

    Nice party

    Early Disney

    Ad parody


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