Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts



First Advisor

Andrea Foroughi




advertising, women, beauty, trend, consumer, expectations


Since its creation, print advertising has affected how women perceive beauty and has shaped the trend of consumer purchasing, as well as the social status of women. This thesis analyzes three women’s magazines—Life, Ladies’ Home Journal and Ebony and evaluates how the advertising of fashion and cosmetics portrayed ideals of beauty in the 1950s and how the advertisements may have shaped or reflected class differences and racial perceptions in mid 19th century America. In order to accomplish this analysis and to evaluate how fashion and cosmetic advertising may have differed based on targeted demographic, advertisements from the months April and October in the years 1947, 1950, 1953, 1956, 1959 and 1962 were studied and compared. The roles of fashion and cosmetic advertising on societal expectations of beauty is a fairly recent topic of study and consequently, there are few secondary sources in this area. Most authors address either the individual topics of advertising in the 1950s or of fashion and/or cosmetics and few combine these subjects to assess the impact of fashion and cosmetic advertising. Those sources that do address this topic unanimously present the importance on French fashions as inspiration for the US market, the creation of a distinctly “American look,” the emphasis on a slender figure, and the differences in types of cosmetics being advertised to white and black women. This thesis contains two main chapters, the first addresses cosmetic advertising, and the second addresses fashion advertising. In general, the types of cosmetics being advertised and the styles of the ads in Life and Ladies’ Home Journal are quite similar.