Ah, the good old days, back when Easy Bake Ovens prepped little girls on how to bake a meal for the husband they’d serve one day and Dodge in conjunction with ‘TEEN magazine and catalog retailer Montgomery Ward instructed teenage girls how to dress to get picked up by much older dudes in cars. I’m not kidding. It happened.
The year was 1969 when ‘TEEN magazine’s November issue featured what appeared to be a usual whimsical cover with headline articles about popular TV shows, fitness, fashion and sewing. Nothing unusual on the surface at all save for maybe an article header on lingerie. Since the average reader’s age for ‘TEEN magazine was 15 in 1969 despite the editors of the magazine claiming their readership was “college aged”, I think most mothers would agree at the time that seductive underwear for a minor girl was “inappropriate” even in “the Swingin’ 60s.”
However, that’s not even the harbinger of cringe here. It’s ‘TEEN magazine’s article on sewing, “Spin Your Fashion Wheels: Sporty Style With a Difference” that’s so creeptastick here because –get this– the advertisements depict teenage girls appearing larger than life, either towering like giants or floating like some forbidden Nabokovian bonus prize, while being gawked at by much older men with brand new Dodge cars. Just gross.
One ad shows a man staring up their skirts while he appears to be slamming the trunk closed. It’s really quite terrifying.
Another shows a guy sitting on the back of his car with his head all the way up the skirt of the girl’s dress.
In the article Montgomery Ward is pushing its newest sewing machine, the Signature Series, and urging girls to “Be A Traffic Stopper” apparently by sewing clothes that appeal to old perverted bastards with a hankering for some young stuff? I mean, what exactly are these ads trying to say? Looks pretty cut and dried to me. In fact every single one of the ads in this segment illustrates the same creepy-ass theme of junior high school “home-ec” girls being lusted over and potentially poached by older men in Dodge cars. Apparently Montgomery Ward was cool with it. Why, I’ve no idea other than they were trying to bank on the “Lolita craze” in advertising that surfaced as a fad in 1968 and fell out of fashion by 1978 when people finally realized it was in bad taste and Roman Polanski wasn’t cool anymore since he was busted for having sex with a 13-year old.
The one above is particularly unsettling in that the girl’s legs are fading out and disappearing into the background of the image as if to suggest that both girls have already been in the car and are now part of the car’s history…or perhaps some guy’s body count.
It’s worth mentioning that the next issue, “How To Bag A Boy”, had a cover depicting a boy’s severed head affixed to a trophy plaque that was planned in opposition-protest to the Dodge/Montgomery Ward ads by female members of the editorial staff ticked off about the previous creepy and misogynist content.
We’ve come a long way, baby.