Thursday, September 26, 2013

Obesity in the USA in 1950s, from the Early Fight Against a Plague

“The most serious health problem in the U.S. today is obesity.” Sounds familiar, doesn’t it? But that pronouncement about obesity’s primacy in the hierarchy of national health problems is not new. Rather, it’s the opening line to a remarkable article published 60 years ago in LIFE magazine. These photographs below made by LIFE’s Martha Holmes to illustrate that March 1954 article, titled “The Plague of Overweight.”

“Bulging at beach in 1949, 197-pound Dorothy (Bradley) self-consciously leaves locker room for swim. She covered up embarrassment by being jolly and gregarious”. (Photo by Martha Holmes/Time & Life Pictures)

Dorothy Bradley, photographed for LIFE magazine article on obesity, 1949. (Photo by Martha Holmes/Time & Life Pictures)

“Hungry at drugstore after a day's work earning money for nursing school, Dorothy envies slim girl's milkshake, orders lemonade without sugar for herself”. (Photo by Martha Holmes/Time & Life Pictures)

Dorothy Bradley, photographed for LIFE magazine article on obesity, squeezes through turnstile, 1949. (Photo by Martha Holmes/Time & Life Pictures)

Dorothy Bradley (right), photographed for LIFE magazine article on obesity, 1949. (Photo by Martha Holmes/Time & Life Pictures)

Dorothy Bradley (left), photographed for LIFE magazine article on obesity, 1949. (Photo by Martha Holmes/Time & Life Pictures)

Dorothy Bradley, photographed for LIFE magazine article on obesity, eyes dress in a store window, 1949. (Photo by Martha Holmes/Time & Life Pictures)

“Embarrassed at shop because she wears a size 40, Dorothy tries on new dress. A friend encouragingly points out that dieting has reduced waistline by two sizes”. (Photo by Martha Holmes/Time & Life Pictures)

“In gym in New York sweat-suited Dorothy finds workout did not by itself remove pounds but did help avoid flabbiness as she lost weight dieting”. (Photo by Martha Holmes/Time & Life Pictures)

Dorothy Bradley, photographed for LIFE magazine article on obesity, works out in 1949. (Photo by Martha Holmes/Time & Life Pictures)

Dorothy Bradley, photographed for LIFE magazine article on obesity, works out in 1949. (Photo by Martha Holmes/Time & Life Pictures)


Dorothy Bradley (left), photographed for LIFE magazine article on obesity, meets with a nutritionist, 1949. (Photo by Martha Holmes/Time & Life Pictures)

Dorothy Bradley, photographed for LIFE magazine article on obesity, measures her waist, 1949. (Photo by Martha Holmes/Time & Life Pictures)

Dorothy Bradley, photographed for LIFE magazine article on obesity, tries on a dress, 1949. (Photo by Martha Holmes/Time & Life Pictures)

Dorothy Bradley, photographed for LIFE magazine article on obesity, works out in 1949. (Photo by Martha Holmes/Time & Life Pictures)

Dorothy Bradley, photographed for LIFE magazine article on obesity, works out in 1949. (Photo by Martha Holmes/Time & Life Pictures)

“Now down to 155 pounds, an attractive Dorothy dances at Navy Ball”. (Photo by Martha Holmes/Time & Life Pictures)

3 comments:

  1. i wish the fulltext was available

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  2. It looks like you can see most, if not all the txt in Google Books LIFE archive. Check it out: http://tinyurl.com/ol8ar5p

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  3. She was attractive and cute, even chubby. She looks like she'd have been fun to hang around with. A real sweetheart. Who cares if she didn't look model-thin in a swimsuit?

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