1950s Girdles vs Gimmicks of Today

This is a 1950s ad for Bestform shapewear that will give you "hips you'll hooray" and "a waist worth buying a belt for." 

Today the girdle has transitioned into big business, only it's now "Spanx" or "Not Your Daughters Jeans" offering "Lift Tuck Technology."

What I find alarming are products like these that lead women to believe that if you're at an unhealthy weight there's no need to exercise or change unhealthy eating habits when you can simply squeeze yourself into their product:

Seems to me that generally speaking, from the other ads that I've seen, the girdles of the 50s were mostly designed to enhance women's curves while slightly slimming whereas now shapewear is designed and marketed as an alternative to dieting as well as suppressing "curves"/bulges.

Personally I prefer to work for that "muscular girdle" Jack LaLanne promises can be yours. The 50s way is about fitness, not just fat loss...or cover-ups.


  1. Averyl, I was reading a magazine this week and their was an article about bra sizes that reminded me of this post. In the article it said that if you have "back fat" your bra's band size is most likely too small and you need to wear your bra on the last hook or get a larger size. It was the BRA that made a woman's back look fat, not what she ate or if she exercised. So I guess now we can blame our clothes for making us look fat! Hurray! ;)

    Sarah H.

    1. Well of course it's the fault of our bras! It's IMPOSSIBLE that we have any role in those rolls of fat! Phew.

      I used to blame my clothes dryer when my jeans no longer fit. ;)

  2. Hi there,

    Just stumbled upon your website and am really enjoying it.

    I get what you are saying about Spanx, etc., but I think there is something to be said for wearing the wrong bra size. The band's job is to do about 75% of the supporting, and the straps's the rest. If the band is too big it cannot sufficiently support the breasts. Oftentimes when a woman wears a too-large band the cup is too small, causing some of the breast tissue to spill out of both the top of the cups and the sides as well. the side spill can appear as "back fat," even on a slim woman. Switching to a bra with a larger cup/smaller band size gives better support to the breasts and ensures all the breast tissue is in the cups. The bustline will look higher and better.

    This does not mean that if you are overweight it will solve all your problems, but it will give you proper support and look better. And it will get rid of what is not really back fat. The reason wearing the bra on the loosest hook is to extend its life. It will stretch over time, so if you buy a loose band and begin by wearing it on the tightest hook it will be too loose very quickly.

    1. Hi and thanks!

      I agree that a properly fitting bra can eliminate rolls just as wearing the right size jeans will eliminate a "muffin top." I am commenting on the belief that if we have excess fat it's solely the fault of what we are wearing.

      It's also important for our health. If a bra is ill-fitting it can cause upper body pain, and that I know from personal experience. I am tall and bought some bras that had straps too short for my stature.

  3. And I have the opposite problem - I'm only 5 feet tall and often the straps go on for miles!

    You are right of course, no piece of clothing can eliminate excess weight!

  4. Hi\ Averyl, I just stumbled upon your blog today and I have to say, it is amazing. Anyways, I have always been interested in shapewear and girdles from the olden days. Do you know any sites where I can purchase some quality girdles?

    1. Hi, Jeanette, thank you!

      I took a look and sites like macys.com and jcpenney.com sell them, as well as in their stores. Of course there's also amazon.com!


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