Our impending arrival means that I’ve seriously got babies on the brain. As well as the official ‘baby brain’… Scouring through my Woman’s Own magazines to look at the adverts builds up a picture of how womanhood was viewed in the 1950s; at least by mainstream society. Babies, cooking, cleaning and grooming appear to be the main aims of a 1950s housewife. I think I can safely say it will be yes to the first two; maybe to the third and probably not to the fourth idea for me come November…
When you examine many of these adverts en masse – not only the baby related ones – the general feeling seems to be that if there is a product, new ingredient, new thing that can be used, given, delivered, rubbed in and so on, then do it!
Everything seems to be the most unique, the ideal, the kindest, safest, most natural thing you can have or use. I know that’s the nature of advertising, but I do wonder how much more susceptible people were to it fifty or sixty years ago. Nowadays, I think (most) people are more cynical and will question advertising spiel more; perhaps I’m being naive in assuming people of the older generation didn’t do that as much.
This Heinz advert has one of my favourite lines in it: “‘So firm, isn’t she! no flabby fat on her. And she can almost stand.” Pitched just right to play on the fears of a mother and the natural competitiveness of rearing a child and wanting it to be the best it can be
and secretly better than everyone else’s child.
This is something I can forsee that we might have issues with: that we will be bringing our child up on a vegetarian diet. Actually, we won’t have issues with it. We both know that anyone can maintain a very healthy lifestyle without eating meat; equally, an unhealthy one can be apparent in meat-eaters. It’s down to personal choice. I would rather our child is brought up vegetarian and has the choice to eat meat when he or she is older and understands more about where meat comes from. Having said this, I anticipated questions and qualms from people for having a (mostly) vegetarian pregnancy and have had virtually nothing. That every examination, appointment, blood test, urine test, whatever test you can think of that pregnant women undergo has come back spot on every time, I like to think this is proof that vegetarianism in pregnancy is perfectly normal and good for your baby. As for all of those cheese sandwiches I ate during months three and four, what with being the only thing I could stomach at the time; well, they’ve clearly done me or the baby no harm. It’ll probably come out smelling like mayonnaise though…
Just read the different in the copy between the adverts. The first states that for ‘Mothers who cannot breastfeed [they] can put their trust in Ostermilk.’ So far, so responsible. Yet look at the text for the second advert: “Lots of prams never seem to get very far without being stopped. They are, of course, the ones that contain particularly engaging looking babies. So often they are babies fed on Ostermilk. This pure milk food builds the kind of babies that people simply have to stop and talk to.” As I said, designed perfectly to play on fears and competitiveness. The breastfeeding vs. formula feeding debate still rages on endlessly nowadays, and there is an absolute wealth of information out there for mums and dads to be read about. It really is down to personal choice and circumstances, in my opinion, and I don’t think any parent should be made to feel guilty about that choice.
The next few adverts are mainly to coo over funny looking pictures of babies in quaint pictures:
I love the expressions on the faces of the babies in the Vaseline adverts and the RP accent of the text. Jolly good! The idea of my baby thinking in a posh accent tickles me somewhat. In reality, it’s likely to be a strange hybrid of Yorkshire, Mancunian and the Midlands. Perhaps I can teach him or her to say, “I say!” at least.
This final advert is my favourite, purely for the possessed look on the child’s face:
That’s what all that Ostermilk, Spinach and Beef, and Vaseline does to you… this baby is not possessed at all, just feeling smugly superior:
“I say, you fellows, look what a glow to my eyes that Magnesia has brought about. How spiffing!”