WIN Wyoming

Thought Bullets
August 2001

Over 100 Years of "Before" and "After" Pictures

Look in any magazine promoting the latest diet, and you are sure to find an advertisement with a before and after picture. Even as a young girl, I was always a little skeptical of the pictures being of the same person. Joanne Ikeda, Co-Director of the Center for Weight and Health at the University of California at Berkeley, recently showed me a before and after diet advertisement where the person changed not only hair color, height, weight, and facial features, but race as well.

Mary Kay Wardlaw, education specialist for WIN the Rockies, found an advertisement with the famous before and after pictures from over 100 years ago. My, how times have changed!

Here is the before picture - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - and the after picture


Quotes from the advertisement for a weight gain product of 1891 include the following.

* Don’t look like the poor unfortunate on the left who tries to cover her poor thin body. (Notice how thin was associated with poor.)

* Don’t suffer from the tortures of inferior devices that artificially fatten with inflationary devices and pads. (Imagine - the goal was to have female body look larger. It still seems unfortunate to me the female body never seems to be socially acceptable without changes.)

* "In just 4 weeks I gained 39 pounds, a new womanly figure, and much needed fleshiness." (Forget the saying I’m not fat, I’m fluffy – how about I’m not fat, I’m fleshy!)


Source: Ritter and Company, Dealers in Fine General Merchandise, 1891, advertisement of Professor Williams’ famed Fat-Ten-U Foods

Compiled by Betty Holmes, MS, RD

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