Diet Craze

Americans searching for a quick and easy fix to lose weight wasn’t anything new in the 1960’s, as there is evidence of diet fads dating all the way back to the 1820s. However, the 1960’s was a period where the ideal body image of a woman was rapidly changing. The full-figured ideal of the Victorian era was long out of the picture and the thin, voluptuous image led by Marilyn Monroe  of the 1950’s was being phased out with the introduction of extreme slenderness headed by Twiggy of the 1960’s.


In the episode “Indian Summer” of Mad Men, the ad men are discussing how to market a new weight-loss belt and enlist Peggy to try it out and give them a first-hand testimonial. When Peggy asks the men why they picked her, Don replies that it’s simply because she’s a woman. When Peggy comes back to the men with her presentation, the situation is very awkward for her as the device turns out to serve more sexual purposes than anything practical. After the presentation is over, the men condescendingly give Peggy a pat on the back as they leave the conference room. The views of the men on how women need to watch their figure is very objectifying and degrading. Meanwhile, one of the most popular diets for men was called “The Drinking Man’s Diet” which was published by Robert Cameron in 1964. The name describes the gist of the diet, which involved lots of protein, low carbs and, of course, lots of alcohol. The contrast between how ridiculous women’s dieting was and how lighthearted men’s dieting was accentuates the varying roles in the male-dominant society of the 1960’s.
Image credit: http://static6.businessinsider.com/image/4fbbb5b76bb3f7e35a000004-400-300/1950s-vibrating-belts.jpg
Links referenced: Rutherford, Diane. "A Bizarre History of Diet Fads in America." Suite101.com. Burda Digital Ventures, 25 Mar. 2009. Web. 24 Sept. 2012. <http://suite101.com/article/a-bizarre-history-of-diet-fads-in-america-a104774>.


  1. I've always found dieting to be such a double standard in modern America. I agree with you completely, the emphasis that everyone, especially men, put on women's dieting just shows how male-dominant the world was back then.

    What I find to be interesting it what you briefly mentioned in the beginning of your blog post, how at one point it was socially acceptable to be curvier. I remember reading this article about the whats a 'normal figure' for women in the past in comparison to today:
    It's really quite interesting to see how society has changed from then to now, even in a relatively short period of time.

  2. I really like how you related the gender roles presented in Mad Men to one of the main symbols of the show: alcohol. I find it very interesting how you commented about the popular male and female diets of the era! It made me wonder about the evolution of diets and "perfect figures" in America. I feel like nowadays it's more appropriate to see men be on as stringent diets as women, but is it the same in other countries? I thoroughly enjoyed your post!