From “True Woman” to “New Woman”

This article analyzes five illustrated advertisements designed by the Lydia E. Pinkham Medicine Company in 1890. Dubbed “animated ads” by the company's director, they were an innovation among newspapers advertisements of the period in both design and execution. Each depicts a social tableaux in which women play a role in a specific social setting. A close reading of them reveals that they all made statements about woman's place in late Victorian society, which was a time when the traditional “True Woman” was being challenged by the emerging paradigm of the “New Woman. “These advertisements reveal aspects of both models and suggest to modern readers how women in 1890 reading these advertisements could negotiate the transition between the two alternative views.