15 Shockingly Offensive Vintage Ads

The media has played a big role in shaping the perception of women in society.

To understand why women have been battling gender inequality for many years, we must take a look at big influencers such as company advertisements.

It's important to understand that many ideas and perceptions were incrusted in people’s minds through advertising, the last century being especially brutal when it came to the negative portrayal of women.

The ads you will see below may shock you, nevertheless they give you an idea of the male empowerment that has thrived up to this day and the strong message of what women were being told to be; Housekeepers, cooks, less intelligent, bad at sports and generally inferior to men.

Today's advertising may seem different, however, the messages we see now may be less obviously sexist however we still do come across some ads that we find offensive or have negative connotations towards women.

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15 Women Wish For Kitchen Appliances

Via: Pinterest

This ad clearly states what a woman's Christmas present should be, depicting that a woman's place is in the kitchen and that she needs to rely on her husband to turn her dreams into reality using her "sensitivity" and delicate manners to manipulate others. This is also a strong statement that women were unable to get what they 'wanted' themselves.

14  Limited Career Paths

Via: ThoughtCatalog

Even though today women are allowed to join the military, it's still an area dominated by men. According to CNN, "Among the top ranks, 69 of the 976 generals and admirals -- 7.1% --are women."

This ad clearly states that the navy is exclusively for men, but the stereotype lives until today. By 2013 there were only 21 female admirals in the Navy.

13 Body Standards

Via: ThoughtCatalog

By negatively determining what a woman shouldn't look like, this ad created a pattern that would survive until this day, where the media still plays the guide for millions of girls when establishing a perception of beauty.

Using a pear as an example of what is not wanted and a skinny model to represent what the body of woman should look like, this can certainly be a damaging image.

Body dysmorphia and eating disorders have been booming in current times, a consequence of negative body messages sent to girls through the media.

12  Assuming Women Are Stupid


This ad is disturbing for various reasons, one being the fact that the ketchup bottles were apparently so difficult to open that Del Monte had to come in and market a bottle specifically geared towards women. This one was easy to open, thus allowing weak and seemingly dumbfounded women the chance to open bottles themselves. Did you notice that her lipstick matches the ketchup bottle?

11 Treating Women Like Servants

Via: Buzzfeed

Van Heusen went directly to portray a man as superior to women by using many negative messages. A servant looking woman kneeling on the floor to serve her man, using the phrase "A Man's World" to specifically state that men need to show women that they are in charge.

10  A Woman's Place Is In The Kitchen

Via: BoredPanda

Hardee's really went directly to the punch. No assumptions nor subtleness, stating a woman should be in the kitchen preparing food for her family. We see an amused woman inside a kitchen staring out at what seems like her husband and daughter, who are both having fun outside.

9   Violence Towards Women

Via: pintrest

Really Pitney-Bowes? How was this ad even approved? Here we have an image that promotes violence towards women. As the upset woman and argumentative man seen in the ad are portraying a 'true' couple, the message that comes across here is that women can be annoying and it's unfair that men are not allowed to kill them. Really? The sad fact is that violence towards women was common in advertising during this time.

8  Women As Inferior To Men

Via: Pinterest

This advertisement is targeted at men, who should be buying their wives kitchen appliances in order to keep them happy. Not only will these cooking tools cause pure marital bliss but women would also have an opportunity to cook better meals, the goal of 'a good wife' during this time. Kenwood, this is really disappointing.

7 Love's Baby Soft

Via: Pintrest

A young girl with big hair, pouty lips and soft makeup with a provocative expression, and the shocking tagline that innocence is sexy was clearly not properly thought through. This advertisement was published in Tiger Beat magazine back in the '70s. Not okay Love Cosmetics, not okay.

6  Women Need To Get Married

Via: ThoughtCatalog

If women around the world feel bad because they're 30 years old or over and not married, it's because these pressured ideals that women NEED to get married in order to fulfill their existence, have survived through generations.

In this ad, seemingly sad women are desperately looking for husbands, because "obviously" what else could a woman do besides get married right? Wrong! Even today women are fighting to remove the negative stigma that comes with being an independent single woman.

5  Women are Delicate and Petite Beings.


Women are not so different that they require special pens for writing. Even more, this ad also has the tagline "It writes as long as our man-size Jotter." Assuming that men and women require different products because men deserve the best and women deserve the next best thing, or a product to help make up for their 'inferiority'.

4  Establishing Beauty Standards

Via: ThoughtCatalog

Women have been battling with body image issues for centuries. This ad specifically states that not all bodies are perfect, and that those that are not perfect require products to make them beautiful.

The same advertising strategy is used today to sell weight-loss products to women. Making them feel bad and then providing them with this 'magical' product that will perfect their bodies.

3 Woman Aren't Physical Capacity


Women were once considered to be bad at sports, and were even used as an insult when it came to making a negative reference about a person's physical capacity. "You throw like a girl" is an insult because it's been made to be perceived as such.

This picture is advising parents to let their sons play little league, otherwise they could end up weak, possibly as weak as a girl, which was apparently a no-no.

2  Portraying Women As Ignorant And Stupid


In modern times beautiful women are still being depicted as ignorant and stupid. Like we see in this advertisement, the girl can't tell the difference between a typewriter and a computer.

It is important to make a note that most advertising and marketing executives at the time were men, and they put a real effort into undervaluing women in every way that they could.

1 Can't Even Get Dinner Right

Via: Pinterest

Once again we are looking at an ad that enforces a woman's place be in the kitchen serving her man. Not only is the woman crying over burning their dinner that she probably spent all day cooking but the husband remarks that at least she won't burn his beer, a manly man's drink.


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