Woe Is The 1930s Housewife

I always love running across 1930s magazines because they are so hard to find, especially women’s magazines.  At my local Half Price Books (one of my favorite haunts), they have quite a stash of women’s magazines from the 30s and 40s and I’ve been picking up quite a few.The particular magazine that these ads came from is the January 1936 issue of Pictorial Review. It seems directed at women featuring short stories and sewing patterns, but what really caught my attention was the ads. Goodness, the 1930s woman had a heavy load to bear, with keeping her vagina antiseptically clean and her bowels moving! Here are some great, yet agonizing, 1936 ad examples:

Vintage Zonite Ad 1936Ad for Zonite Suppositories: “It’s Never Too Late For a Wife to Learn”.  The 1930s view of feminine hygiene was that in order to keep your man happy, you had to have a sterilized vagina. The entirety of your marital happiness depended on it. No worries – just use Zonite Suppositories – your delicate tissues will not be burned or desensitized. Who knows what horrible ingredients were in this stuff? The alternative, according to the ad, was carbolic acid which apparently lots of women were using. I am wondering if this was a thinly-veiled product for birth control. I mean, why else would you put such ghastly stuff up your vagina, even if it was ‘recommended’ by the medical profession?





Vintage Dr Edwards Olive Laxative ad 1936Ad for Dr. Edwards’ Olive Tablets: “When Nature is Lax, Take a Beauty Laxative”.  Accumulating body waste was both a big fear for the 30s woman, “an enemy of health and beauty”. No worries – if a day goes by with eliminating, just pop an Olive Tablet and you will get rid of ‘stored-up poisons’ quickly. Must have been wonderful popping laxatives every day.






Vintage Pazo Piles Ad 1936Ad for Pazo Ointment and Suppositories for Piles: “I Couldn’t Sit, Couldn’t Stand, Couldn’t Even Lie Down!”.  Maybe it was all that laxative use that caused her hemorrhoids? No worries – Pazo will soothe, lubricate, and provide astringent relief. I suspect hemorrhoid creams are pretty much the same today.







Vintage Mentholatum ad 1936Ad for Mentholatum: “Break Winter’s Grip! Fight That Cold!”  No worries – if a cold is making you miserable, just slather your chest and nostrils with Mentholatum. It will “soothe the irritated membranes, help open up the stopped-up nostrils, and check the sneezing”. I’m sure it was a lovely experience being coated with Mentholatum each night. Makes me very thankful for that modern cold wonder drug, Nyquil.






Vintage 1936 Woodbury Soap adAd for Woodbury’s Facial Soap: “When You’re Dancing Cheek to Cheek, Is Yours ‘The Skin He Loves To Touch'”?  The 30s and 40s ads were ripe for suggesting that all you needed to do for beautiful skin was wash your face with soap, which is incredible considering the many products most of us use today for skin care.  But nope, in the 1930s all you had to do was treat your face to Woodbury’s fluffy lather and in a month or less you would find a new, soft glamorous beauty in your cheek! It will cause his heart to beat at a new quick tempo…if you have “The Skin He Loves to Touch.”  Wow. Promises, promises.


~Marilyn  😀

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