Let’s Read Ladies Home Journal, October 1975

Ladies Home Journal has been in print since 1883 and was founded by Louisa Knapp Curtis, whose original column in a broader interest magazine edited by her husband had grown to support its own feature. (You can find digitized full issues of LHJ from the 1880s here, which are super cool). After Knapp Curtis stepped down in 1889, the magazine would not have a woman as the sole editor-in-chief for the next 90 years. It was extremely popular with the housewife demographic, especially during the war years when the government favored it for featuring their home-front propaganda. In 1970, 100 radical feminists stormed the offices of Ladies Home Journal and held an 11 hour sit-in to protest the current direction of the magazine. Among their demands, they wanted a female editor-in-chief, an all-female editorial staff, minorities on staff, and editorial content that focused on topics such as women’s sexuality, the environment, and the Vietnam war. The editor-in-chief John Mack Carter appeased them by allowing them to edit a section of the August 1970 issue, and in 1973 Carter was replaced by Lenore Hershey as editor-in-chief.


Welcome, at last, to the seventies. They are bedecked in gingham. Elizabeth Taylor will be your guide. Note her pose, which is giving her a very subtle facelift by pulling up her hair. Nicely done.

Pretty standard design for the table of contents. There’s so much content in this issue that I could only include a fraction of it, sadly. Miss Taylor is credited for her own makeup on the cover, because who else is worthy of touching her face?

Big John’s is no longer a brand, probably because nobody wanted to deal with opening a separate can of bean accessories in order to make beans.

Not gonna lie, I would wear the shit out of that.

Update on Miss Clairol: still has hair, twelve years later.

Holly Hobbie! If you were a little girl in the 70s and 80s, you owned something with Holly Hobbie on it. I had a quilted wall hanging with the image on the mug in the top picture. The flowers of her bouquet were real dried thistles that smelled like butterscotch.

Big thanks to the Avocados who identified this stern man for me as actor David Janssen. You shouldn’t take this man’s word on anything about health, since his four-pack-a-day smoking habit made him drop dead from a heart attack at the age of 48.

Cigarette ads of the 70s are so prevalent that I feel like I’m getting lung cancer from just holding the magazines. They were also remarkably sharp in copy and often had the most eye catching graphics and layout. If you know your Mad Men, you’ll remember that the war on tobacco started in 1965 when Congress started requiring all cigarette packages to carry a health warning. In 1970, cigarette ads were banned from television and radio, and the health warning was enforced in the name of the Surgeon General. Combined with the pressure of the creeping health and fitness craze that would crest in the 80s, the tobacco industry went on the warpath with the best print advertising campaigns that money could buy. They advertised to women, men, radical women, housewives, tough guys, sensitive guys, anyone who made a paycheck. That last ad is particularly depressing.

You’d expect this to be full of condescending advice for obeying and keeping a man, but it’s actually very sweet and quite serious. I get the feeling from things alluded to in the column that Nancy Walker and her daughter didn’t always have the closest relationship. And if you’re wondering if Miranda and Eric made it in the long run, I don’t think they did.

Beans were apparently a massive market in the 70s. Maybe it’s because the default color palette for bean advertising was very of the time – brown, yellow, off-white. Cool to see that Van Camp’s packaging has barely changed to today.

How to be the lamest no-fun mom on the block: slather your kids in cold cream and lipstick, then take all the fun stuff out of their candy bags while looking for razors.

A collection of opinions on women working outside the home. The guys in the first section got me pretty steamed, but the rest of it is actually very supportive. I think most men really didn’t grok how great it was to have a two-income household until their wives started working. It’s funny how much of this sounds like plain common sense today – and, less funny, how many women are still fighting for the right to work.

Chauffeur: Oh FooFoo, as soon as she signs those papers to leave you all her money we’ll stage a gruesome accident in her Tiffany lamp room!

Cat: Soon, my darling. Soon.

Mainstream America may have shit the bed over feminism, but god did advertising love it.

And now for “Other people’s problems”. Thinking back on last week’s College Humor magazine, we’ve come a long way by 1975 where the forefront question on a parent’s mind isn’t “Will my son be in the glee club?” but “Will my son be able to handle all the drugs and sex on campus without it affecting his GPA?”

Because you aren’t a glamorous woman in 1975 without your frosted hair-helmet.

Which one do you relate to? I’m the chocolate syrup on the blouse daughter.

Highlights of this insane interview with Elizabeth Taylor:

– Taylor going back to Richard Burton as the story was going to press, necessitating a hurried editor’s note.

– This batshit crazy movie called Bluebird that seems to have nearly killed everyone involved. And yes, the movie is on YouTube.

– Taylor is still recovering from the amoebic dysentery that she picked up while filming, so when she has to take a bathroom break she announces “Russia’s calling”.

– Oh to be a fly on that wall when the director suggested that Elizabeth-freaking-Taylor use her own jewelry for the costumes!

Two topics that we still can’t stop debating: the househusband and prayer in public schools.

This is all well and good, except I can’t get over Audrey Rowe Colom, age 28, black. WHAT.

Shirley Temple Black, age 47, white, looking very fierce in a very 1970s ambassador way.

Ah, nostalgia for a time when the slave owners of fantasy Charleston daintily spilled tea on their wide-lapel leisure suits while their women stabbed at embroidery hoops in a tranquilized haze.

For once, the jello isn’t the scariest thing in the ad!

Indistinguishable from what you can find at H&M today.

Sexiest looks of 1975: sticking embroidery notions to your face, putting grey streaks in your hair, and blatant cultural appropriation!

Very…subtle, apricot industry.

A strange fake-hamburger-like-meat-substance for dogs, because what every owner wishes for his dog is the ability to eat fake processed cheeseburgers all day.

It’s an apron! It’s a tablecloth! It’s a tree skirt! It’s a bedspread!

“Oh drat, I have my tampon and family crest coupons but I just plum forgot my Fruit of the Loom wig coupon! Be a dear and see if you’ve any extras in your register for me?”

Pick your style. I like #303.

Sadly, no amount of brushing with Colgate can undo the damage from this boy’s 2-pack-a-day smoking habit.

And that’s it for this week! Next week we’re going into the 80s with this slimeball (and ads for fiber. So much fiber.)