The Unsettling Double Standards of Vintage Beauty Ads

There’s a special joy that comes when pining through media of past. Whether it’s watching old shows on TV Land or flipping through vintage magazines, it’s always fascinating taking note on how everything from the fashion to the language used in media differentiate from today.

But every now and then you come across some problematic stuff. Like really  deeply problematic. Here’s few beauty ads that make us chuckle with discomfort and also grateful for the fact that many of these brands no longer exist.


Apparently feminine odor isn’t a individual “problem,” but it actually affects everyone around you. Thanks Norforms! Fun fact these folks still exist and sell them as deodorant suppositories. Up yours guys!

WScreen Shot 2017-03-07 at 1.36.21 PMe’re not what’s worse here – the usage of “milk-white hands” or the word “elfin” being used as a compliment. Either way we’ve got a grab bag of racism, colonialism, and straight up bizarre expectations about what makes a woman and no matter who you are you’ve got to worry about your hands.

No rough dark unmanicured hands ladies. That might give men the wrong impression about you. 





WarnScreen Shot 2017-03-07 at 1.41.21 PMer’s believed that women shouldn’t make a “big production” out of their bodies. We can’t help but wonder if their heads would explode if they saw the popularity of waist trainers today. Because Kim Kardashian has definitely made them a big deal and a big production (and power to her if that’s her choice, you do you Kim!)

But unpacking this ad takes a lot. One, if you are a woman and have a shape (pear, apple, or otherwise) then guess what that’s a shape for a woman !

Two, we are ignoring the whole girl thing because yeah condescension through infantilizing terms, yeah yeah we get it.  

Three, the bra is called the Little Fibber. Because you can’t have this shape because that wouldn’t be nice at all but we don’t really want to KNOW that you are changing your shape for a sexual standard set by someone else so you better lie about. 


Screen Shot 2017-03-07 at 1.52.39 PMLet’s start with a warning here. Please guys don’t touch women’s hair unless we give you permission. This goes double for everyone (this includes other women) that wants to touch a black woman’s hair.

Now that out of the way, if you WANT your hair touched well umm , “Well it’s been while – wait what?” then PolyGlow is just for you!

But don’t worry, the glow is inner so no one can tell because if someone can tell you pt effort into your hair then well men aren’t going to like that one bit. We just can’t win here now can we?


Screen Shot 2017-03-07 at 1.56.36 PMThis ad from Love Baby Soft might take the cake in weird sexist stuff from the 70s. Because nothing is quite so much fun as playing “Madonna Whore” with our cosmetics. Lollipop at the lips, hand on that nice white skirt positioned just so and oh sorry what were you saying about innocence? If she was a virgin you’d be concerned, if she was a slut that’d be worse. Come on men make up your damn minds about what we are and are not supposed to do. 

There’s even an uncomfortable TV spot to match. And let’s not even get into the shape of the bottle…. I mean yeah none of this is sexier than you think. 

Self Care On A Budget

Like we said before, we’re all about self-care. It’s crucial to our emotional, physical and overall mental health and shouldn’t be seen as a self-indulgent. It can be a radical act to take care of yourself FIRST. 

But at times self-care can be equated with “treating yo self.” And by “treating yo self” we mean leaving a dent in your wallet. And our wallets are already less full than our male peers. So here are some ways to enter self-care bliss without looking at your bank account in tears.

Tune into a podcast

The best thing about podcasts is that there’s one for just about everything you could think of. The second best thing is that the vast majority are free. For a good laugh at pop culture try the “The Read” or “Ana Faris is Unqualified“. If you’re looking to step away from reality try “The Orbiting Human Circus” or “Welcome to the Night Vale.” Or if you want to feel giddy and nostalgic at the sound of the original Oprah Winfrey Show theme music give “Making Oprah” a listen.


Tune out and meditate

Meditation can be tricky if you’re new to it, but there are some very real perks to making it a regular practice. There are a number of great apps like Headspace and Sattva that help you on your way to finding some peace of mind.


Take a donation based yoga class

Yoga can sometimes be seen as a sort of luxury fitness, but it’s probably one of the most accessible and touts a variety of emotional and physical benefits. Places like Bikram Yoga or Yoga to the People accept regular donations as low as $10. Even modish spots like Sky Ting Yoga in New York offer weekly donation classes.


Make a compliments journal

Okay, try not to laugh at this one but just think about gratitude journals. Now just replace “gratitude” with “compliments.” Write little compliments to yourself as you see fit and reference back to them when needed.


Reorganize and reset your space

You don’t necessarily have to get all Marie Kondo with this one, but simple steps like lighting a few of your preferred scented candles or refreshing your sheets can make all the difference.

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What Is A Double Standard?

A double standard is the application of different sets of principles for similar situations. In our case we are exploring how women a different set of standards applied to them than men (and it wasn’t set by women). But first let us consider how we got here and why. Take this Latin aphorism.

Quod licet Iovi, non licet bovi

Translated, though not literally, as “Gods may do what cattle may not” the phrase justifies the existence of a double standard by telling us that “what is permitted to one person or group, is not permitted to everyone.” The balance of power, obligation, and privilege leans on one group over another through the ages.


Alternatively consider “Noblesse oblige” often read as “nobility obligates” seeming to impose on the privileged a duty to behave nobly, thereby apparently giving a class a moral justification for their privilege. The argument being”as nobles, we have rights, but we have duties also; so such duties validate our rights” a tautology of embued virtue and privilege.

So when you think of double standards, think of a long history of coinages that remind us that someone is always playing at getting their due over another and it is never fair. Today in the battle of the sexes we see exactly where the double standard lies. Women can play the game, but the rules are different for us and we didn’t write them. We might not be cattle but we are only a few generations off from being “chattel”  to our menfolk.

Most Americans treated married women according to the concept of coverture, a concept inherited from English common law. Under the doctrine of coverture, a woman was legally considered the chattel of her husband, his possession.

And they haven’t quite forgotten it. And we haven’t found a way around it yet.

What is A Slut?

“A slut is someone, usually a woman, who’s stepped outside of the very narrow lane that good girls are supposed to stay within. Sluts are loud. We’re messy. We don’t behave. In fact, the original definition of “slut” meant “untidy woman.” But since we live in a world that relies on women to be tidy in all ways, to be quiet and obedient and agreeable and available (but never aggressive), those of us who color outside of the lines get called sluts. And that word is meant to keep us in line.”

Jaclyn Friedman

Why The Worst Insult You Can Throw At A Men Is To Call Him A Woman

“What’s the worst possible thing you can call a woman? Don’t hold back, now.
You’re probably thinking of words like slut, whore, bitch, cunt (I told you not to hold back!), skank.

Okay, now, what are the worst things you can call a guy? Fag, girl, bitch, pussy. I’ve even heard the term “mangina.”
Notice anything? The worst thing you can call a girl is a girl. The worst thing you can call a guy is a girl. Being a woman is the ultimate insult. Now tell me that’s not royally fucked up.”
Jessica Valenti, Full Frontal Feminism

Is Self Care Selfish? Or Is Being Selfless Selfish?

Self-care has made quite the trendy come back in the past few years, but specifically in the past few months. It’s hard to not find one publication or blog that doesn’t talk about self-care to some length as it’s been hailed as an integral practice to maintaining clarity in frustrating and/or confusing times. Whether it’s an at-home facial or adult coloring books, some form of focusing on our own mental and physical needs has been deemed with having countless benefits. But can all this self-care actually be downright selfish? And where does that put women who are always being told to put others before themselves? How do we even begin to unpack this conundrum of care.

There’s always a negative connotation associated with being selfish and if you’ve ever been told you’re being selfish, it more than likely wasn’t intended as a compliment. But maybe it should be? Selfishness is best described of thinking of yourself before others. According to Psychology Today, there hasn’t be any research that concludes humans are either “fundamentally generous or greedy and whether these tendencies are shaped by our needs or our environment.” We are both selfish and caring by nature. So why is there a confliction when it comes to caring for ourselves?

Self-care allows us to go to terms with our own self-worth and leveling with our own physical, emotional, and mental needs. But there’s something much more unique about women practicing self care. Some would say it is even a radical act to put one’s self before others as a woman.

When you consider the fact that women historically have been viewed as the caretakers who take care of their husbands, children and homes while maintaining only a bit of self-identity. There’s something empowering about taking ownership of that stigma and applying it solely yourself, while maneuvering in a world that is often harmful to women and especially women of color.


In these times, self-preservation is key. If a little “me-time” requires you to put yourself ahead of someone else, that’s okay. Psychologists say self-care can actually help improve our own relationships by not projecting negative feelings onto others. Think of it taking a flight. In the case of the an emergency you’re always told to put the oxygen mask on yourself first before helping others. Allowing yourself to come first can actually be life-changing. It’s also important to remember that self-care doesn’t necessarily mean, expensive treatments or shopping sprees. It could be as simple as taking a walk after sitting at a desk all day, or making time to read that book you picked up months ago but never got around to reading.

If you still can’t embrace it or find self-care’s purpose, take this quote from Audre Lorde: “Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation and that is an act of political warfare.” If Lorde still does have you convinced, pose yourself this question: “If I don’t take care of my own well being, who is?”





Caitlin Moran On Why We Are So Tired

Have you read Caitlin Moran’s brilliant bit about 12 things women won’t tell men in Esquire? Do so now please. We particularly like with #7 as we are indeed so very tired

We know even success, and money, will not protect us from the humiliation of simply being a woman. We know we must have our babies when we’re young — the eggs are running out! — but we must also work for less money, as discussed above. So that makes us tired.

This is why, maybe, women can become suddenly furious — why online discussions about feminism suddenly ignite into rage. Tired, scared people are apt to lash out. Anger is just fear, brought to the boil.

Bras, Tampons and Makeup, Oh My! Why It is More Expensive To Be A Woman Than A Man.

The expense of being a woman, is something that’s been debated on for a while. Tell us you haven’t reluctantly look at your bank account and wondered, “Is being a woman making me broke? I didn’t sign up for this!” But breaking news: the cost of being a woman is in fact more expensive than the cost of being a man! Cue a Angela Rye eye-roll for that double standard.


There’s the basic toiletries like body wash, shampoo and conditioner are that both the average man and woman top up on. But then there’s addressing the biological realities like bras, tampons/pads/menstrual cups, contraceptives, and gyno visits. Then you get into the more objective choices like that thing we love here – makeup. According to a 2013 study by Mint, the average woman spends $15,000 on makeup alone in their lifetime, which doesn’t seem that high. But when you think about overall skin care and all the retinoids, anti-wrinkle creams, face masks, and snail gels marketed towards us that number more than likely spikes.

Last year, Glamour made a great video breaking down the costs of a being a woman vs a man. Side by side you can watch as the two go through their normal routines racking up to the overall costs in year. Some could argue the actual price of things is completely objective and women could potentially just buy lower-end items to save or when it comes to things like makeup, just not buy it at all. But let’s not forget about that little thing called the “pink tax.”

The “pink tax” or the “women’s tax” suggests that women are actually paying more than men for the same exact products. According to a 2015 study, products marketed to women cost more 42% of the time. 13% of that goes to personal care products. Then there’s the “luxury tax” or “tampon tax” that suggests that even feminine hygiene products are unjustly taxed in the majority of US states (thanks to The Nation for the below upsetting image). It’s a disconcerting truth for a society that often treats a female menstruation as such a taboo topic, but in turn taxes it like a luxury.


Cases have been brought to the federal court against gender-based price gouging and have been dismissed. However, there are city/state state laws in place in New York City and California that prevent retailers from price differentiation based on gender. Sure these bans only came to play in the 90s, but there seems to be some recent progress.

Last year, New York, Illinois and Connecticut tossed the additional tax on feminine hygiene products by recategorizing them. Then just this month, badass New York Congresswoman, Grace Meng became the first politician to take a stand against the tampon tax on a federal level by introducing the Menstrual Equity for All Act of 2017. Her legislation would make feminine hygiene products accessible female inmates/detainees as well as employers with more than 100 employees, free of charge. It also will provide refundable tax credit to low-income women and allow feminine hygiene products to be purchased with a FSA.

So how else can we further mitigate this frustrating double standard? Check and compare prices any opportunity you can. Products like razors and shaving cream often only have minor production changes between those marketed between women and men. Pay attention to ingredients and see if it’s worth spending more just because it’s in a “women’s” section. Chances are it’s not. If you’re in a state where feminine hygiene products are still taxed, consider making the shift to menstrual cups as many of brands have a lifespan of years. We’re not gonna tell you to stop buying things like skin care and makeup, because well look at it us. But we can tell you to continue to make conscious choices in doing whatever’s best for you financially and mentally.

Saturday Standards Link Round-Up 1/21/17

Every Saturday here on we will do a round-up of what we’ve been reading and seeing in the world of how women are treated differently than men. Sometimes they are wonderful takes on how to survive and thrive and sometimes they are just disappointing.

This is an oldie but goodie  (in that it helps enlighten, not that it is good) that Mother Jones published a few years back. The Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media (published a new (PDF) detailing the stereotypes, barrier, and sadly exploitation that define how badly women and girls are treated on screen. Go see the stats for yourself. 

Women are scarcer in prime-time shows and family films, and those films depict “fewer women in prestigious occupational positions,” the study notes. “Females are not only missing from popular media, [but] when they are on screen, they seem to be there merely for decoration.”WhoGetsToSpeak

If that is leaving you sad we’ve got some cheerful (kinda) from HerCampus analyzing some recent reports of gender bias lawsuits. It starts with a bummer of a story but the author takes it to a great place. When it comes to discrimination DON’T BE A TEAM PLAYER.

We must continue having these conversations and revealing these acts of sexism as a way to avoid normalizing them. Openly speak out and expose them. Embarrass the people who believe this sort of behavior is acceptable.

Sherry refers to the women who kept quiet about their experiences as “team players.” Of course, that definition of “team player” is one created by a male-dominated workplace: you’re a team player if you keep quiet about these injustices and develop a “thick skin.” I’m calling for the rebranding of “team player.” A team of men and women who support one another when they speak out about harassment in the workplace. A team that steps up to support a colleague experiencing harassment in the workplace and refuses to accept it.

This task shouldn’t fall solely on women. Men who see it need to speak up as well. It’s the unfortunate truth that a man speaking on sexism may be listened to more than a woman—especially by other men. That’s called exercising male privilege in a positive and effective way.