Admire ad men for their artistic talent, but when they created advertisements for airlines in the 1960s, you can't deny they celebrated the worst, most patronizing aspects of sexism. It's difficult to imagine that an industry that championed strong, working women in earlier decades, as this ad from 1953 shows...
...would be the same exact industry to devalue and sell a woman's body, ethnicity, and personhood as a core part of a consumer product during a decade when women had more freedom than ever to define their role in society, in family, and at work.
The airlines portrayed women as "girls" who act like children
Airlines trained women employees to be future wives for male travelers
The successful man was airlines' ideal traveler
Women flight attendants belonged to the airline and were part of the product
Decades later, it's easy to forget that cultural shifts actually live and die in the same space occupied by those who are opposed to change. And the narratives, icons, and symbols we witness and consume in the media today, whether in a YouTube ad or embedded in a blockbuster movie, will tell future generations the truth about what equal rights struggles we denied or faced, too.