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Studies in Crap Discovers the Birth of Modern Anxiety: Polly Pigtails Magazine


Your Crap Archivist brings you the finest in
forgotten and bewildering crap culled from basements, thrift
stores, estate sales and flea markets. I do this for one reason:
Knowledge is power.

Polly Pigtails Magazine

Date: July, 1947

Discovered at: Antique mall

The Cover Promises: The Germans
licked, the boys back home, America invents childhood.

Representative Quotes:

“Do you resemble a Ballooning Betsy,
a too-ample sample of a well-rounded personality? If you would keep
your chubbiness a secret, stay away from curves and fullness.”
(page 25)

“To fit into any group, you’ll want
to share their interests. Irene says that the girl who is left out of
things ‘should dress more like other girls, talk about things they
do, and act interested in the things they say.” (page 33).

By 1947, victorious Americans had
gotten down to living. Women quit their factory jobs, men went to
work or college, and the children of the booming middle class — many
now secluded in those new houses where there used to be country —
were tasked with being innocent and idealized and representing for
subsequent generations some pure thing of no clear definition that
has since been lost.

No more collecting scrap metal for the
war. Instead, as photos from Polly Pigtails attest, this
was the time for fun:


Fun included balancing German Shephards
on your back.


Americans were

encouraged to enlist the beasts of the world to serve them.

Earlier generations dreamed of a
chocolate at Christmas or an ice-cube to suck at the sweatshop. Raised on promises (and Polly
), the new American girl dared to dream bigger:


This was a time of such golden
childhood innocence that even weight-obsessed Hollywood encouraged its starlets to subsist entirely on candy.


But there was a darkness growing. As that candy-maker makes clear, advertisers were beginning
to prey on children – and their worries.


Actual text:

You, too, may have Gingivitis
and at first not even suspect it.”

In other words, there’s things wrong
inside you that you can’t detect . . . fortunately, there’s
products to save you!

It’s not much of a leap from ads like
that to fashion spreads like this:


Actual caption:

“Has inflation
changed you figure? Do you feel those seams a-poppin’? Don’t fret,
plumpster . . . just call for chubbies, sized ‘specially for you.
Left, Cinderella’s slimming V-yoke style in printed cotton, about $5.
Right, ruffles and embroidered braid trim a Chubbette frock in
Steven’s chambray, about $6. Where to buy on page 42.”

Shocking Detail:

The suburbs have always promised to
keep patriotic Americas from having to interact with each other.
Perhaps that’s why you feel nobody likes you:


What product could

possibly help with this thing that’s wrong with you?




Boys can be abusive.


First, they peep on you as you change.

Then, they ridicule and drown you. Long before women took back the
, their grandmothers had to
take back the pond.

The Crap Archivist lives in Kansas City, where he originates his on-line Studies for the Voice‘s sister paper, The Pitch.

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