Thursday, November 3, 2011


You hardly ever see pictures of men carrying women in their arms these days, but once upon a time such pictures made up 71.32% of all illustrations in women's magazines.

 John Gannam

Readers of Redbook, Good Housekeeping, Ladies Home Journal, Cosmopolitan and McCall's all seemed to love these pictures.

Then, sometime around the middle of the 20th century, such illustrations became extinct.  Why?

Leonard Starr

Apparently, women realized they could travel faster, and usually in a better direction, by walking on their own two feet.

Of course, there could be other explanations (besides transportation logistics) for why these illustrations were so popular with women.  If you accompany a man to the cave of the winds, being carried gives you deniability about your assent.  In a subtler era, this ambiguity could play a significant role in your relationship with the man, or with your mother.  In the second half of the 20th century, ambiguity would become less important.

Or perhaps these illustrations began to lose their charm as women looked at this same theme in men's magazine illustrations, and realized what had been going on in the heads of the lummoxes who had been carrying them:

Norman Saunders
Regardless of physical strength, women often end up doing the heavy lifting.

If you look at some of the old illustrations of men carrying women, you see that (politics aside) there was room for a lot of play and psychology and communication as a result of the fact that nature had endowed one sex with the physical strength to lift the other.

But whatever the reason, those nuances are no longer of much interest, so neither are the illustrations.

The end of the demand for such pictures (rather than the invention of photography or television) may be the real reason for the shrinkage of the illustration market.

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