A Retro Portrait of Women and Consumerism in the 1960s

She’s good at spending money, just not very good at counting it.

From the psychedelic opening to mod coloring, this short film from the Prelinger Archives screams late-1960s. But what is perhaps most revealing is its portrayal of women as less-than-savvy consumers.

Produced by the Handy (Jam) Organization in 1967, the commercial visits the same woman at various points throughout her life. In one scene, she’s “fun loving and single;” in another, she’s rocking her grandchild to sleep. She only appears noticeably flustered when she’s outside of the private sphere: working part or full-time as a secretary, participating in “community affairs,” or bowling. She (like most women, we are to assume) is most comfortable at home. Interestingly, while it feels like an ad, the commercial isn’t actually advertising anything -- it merely promotes the concept of the female consumer. But if the commercial's image of the average American woman -- beautiful, white, and someone with expendable income -- was hopelessly out-of-touch back then, it’s downright ridiculous today.

At least today’s advertising for women is a little subtler in its sexism, right?

For more films from the Prelinger Archive, visit http://www.archive.org/details/prelinger.

Alessandra Ram is a former writer and producer for The Atlantic Video Channel. Her work has also appeared in Foreign Policy.

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