The Cigarette Embraces Its Feminine Side: 1930s Cigarette Advertising
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This study examines the transformation of the cigarette's image during the 1920s. This decade proved to be a period of outstanding social changes across American society, especially for women. Women received the right to vote in 1920 and their public role and presence grew throughout the decade. Along with this growth came a change in gender norms that challenged the traditional male and female spheres of the nineteenth century. Coming out of this change was the movement to allow women to smoke " as men 's equals." This movement was normally played out on college campuses across the country; both co-ed and women-only universities. As before, advertisers capitalized on this social change in order to break the cultural taboo of smoking for women and double the cigarette market. Their attempts included running ads that indirectly suggested women might like to smoke and organizing expensive publicity stunts that supported women smoking. By the end of the decade, the changing gender norms and the efforts of advertisers successfully broke the smoking taboo for American women. Now, advertisers were faced with a new task of creating a feminine image of the cigarette that would entice more women to take up smoking. After discussing the cigarette's masculine image and the breaking of the smoking taboo for women, this study examines the 1930, when smokers and nonsmokers alike "associated cigarettes with glamor and sophistication. " Advertisements throughout the decade used images that firmly established the cigarette as glamorous and sophisticated. Furthermore, advertisers in the 1930s proved successful in creating a feminine image of the cigarette that fit into American culture and gender definitions at this time. Advertisers did this by linking the cigarette to three cultural ideals associated with women during the 1930s: domesticity, romance, and modernity. Invoking these ideals in advertisements not only reinforced the ideals themselves, but also reinforced the cigarette as a representation of these ideals. In addition, invoking these ideals in advertisements connected the cigarette to other products that were directly advertised to women. Appeals to domesticity, romance, and modernity were common advertising strategies in the 1930s and were found in advertisements for a variety of products. Whether the advertisement was for Camel Cigarettes, Campbell's Tomato Soup, Lux for lingerie, or a Buick, at least one of these ideals was present as a strategy meant to entice women to purchase the product. These common strategies in advertisements for women's products further feminized the cigarette. Ultimately, advertising was able to create a feminine image of the cigarette that was supported by, and directly tied to, American culture and gender definitions of the 1930s. This study primarily draws upon magazine advertisements found in Ladies' Home Journal, Good Housekeeping, and Life magazine. By limiting the bulk of this study's primary sources to these magazines' advertisements, the group of women that this study addresses is defined. To start with, advertisers and tobacco manufacturers decided that most of the women in their cigarette advertisements would be white. Therefore, this study solely addresses the feminine image of the cigarette associated with white women. Further, the mainstream women's magazines geared themselves towards a middle-class audience. For instance, Ladies' Home Journal "aligned itself with the new middle-class ten-cent magazines" that were established in the 1890s. From then on, the Journal saw its audience as "a genteel one." Thus, this study primarily focuses on white middle class women. Importantly, however, the women depicted in this study's cigarette · advertisements were undoubtedly upper-class. Advertisers used women from the upper class in order to appeal to middle and lower-class women. The reason why advertisers did this is discussed in Chapter 5.