People have a tendency to sanitize the past, making it easier to vilify the present. This is true for all sorts of topics, from politics to music, but it’s also pretty pronounced in the way we talk about body image. Yes, we live in a society where looks–especially a woman’s looks–are of extreme importance. Women are pressured to look as young, teenage girls are getting plastic surgery in increasingly large numbers, and as much as body positivity movements are helping us feel more comfortable in our own skin, it’s hard not to get distracted whenever you see someone with a thigh gap (psst, it’s normal for your thighs to touch, don’t worry). But one of the most policed corridors in the body image clusterf**k centers around diet. Is this eating clean? Should we do this juice cleanse? Am I eating bad food?
It’s easy to get caught up in the notion that extreme diets is a new issue, but then you’d be sanitizing the past. Believe it or not, people were wacky and ridiculous about weight loss and dieting 50 years ago, too. I’d actually argue that diet practices back in the day were a lot more unhealthy and alarming than they are today. Skeptical? Check out these nine weird vintage fad diets that you won’t believe were popular. You’ll never want to eat cabbage ever again, trust.
Peanut Butter And Steak SandwichesThe beauty of Elizabeth Taylor is iconic, which is probably why a lot of people tried to do whatever they could to look like her. Even if that meant eating steak on peanut butter sandwiches. Yes, she said that that was what she did to maintain her figure. Elizabeth Taylor is either a really weird eater or she was an absolute troll.
Beans DietBeans, beans, the magical fruit! The more you eat, the more you toot...your way into weight loss. Okay, maybe not, but back in the '40s it was pretty damn popular to rely on beans as the key to weight loss.
Yeast DietNothing says delicious like...yeast. Yeah, yeast, that's what actress Greta Garbo consumed for breakfast, lunch, and dinner as her diet of choice. Of course, she ate real food too. But every meal was accompanied with a mixture of dry activated yeast and buttermilk. BRB, about to puke.
Baked Potato And Caviar DietJackie O was, allegedly, a stickler about making sure she was fit and trim. That's why it was unusual to discover that rumor had it she was obsessed with eating a baked potato filled to the brim with caviar. How starch and fish eggs is the key to keeping off the pounds, I have no clue.
Smoke Yourself Slim DietLooking back on old smoking ads is absolutely nuts. A long time ago, Lucky Strike had an ad campaign encouraging consumers to smoke because it was the only thing that would stop them from turning into a fat blob. Listen, cigarettes contains nicotine, which IS an appetite suppresant. But smoking is so catastrophically bad for your overall health that encouraging people to smoke as a quick way to lose weight is unconscionable.
Sugar DietYou know how people avoid sugar like the plague nowadays? Well, about 40 years ago there was a campaign to use sugar as a weight loss aid. Yes, sugar. There were large ad campaigns suggesting that eating sugar made you lose weight because they make you energetic...which makes you less hungry.
The Tapeworm DietYes, people consumed actual parasites because they believed that they would help reduce appetite. There were ads for them in the papers, and there were rumors that this celebrity and that celebrity relied on tapeworms to keep a flattering figure.
The 'Sexy' Pineapple DietBack in the mid '70s, pineapples had a moment. Of course, this led to any way for people to decide that it was a magic weight loss supplement. I mean, pineapples aren't bad for you, but you should probably not rely on them to lose a ton of weight.
Chewing DietBack in the 19th century, Fletcherism was huge. Basically, a guy named Horace Fletcher figured that if you chew your food at least 32 times before swallowing, you'll lose weight. So basically, you can eat a brownie and not worry about weight gain, as long as you chewed it for so long that it started to liquify. Ew.
Which of these diets is the weirdest, in your opinion? Tell us in the comments!