Small House of Everything

Small House of Everything

Saturday, December 17, 2016


As we get older we tend to forget all the trauma and the disservice our parents inflicted upon us and we remember childhood as an innocent, halcyon time.  Parents are not really to blame for this; they really have their child's best interests at heart.  It's my considered opinion that, for people my age at least, it was easier being a boy than a girl.  Boys were expected to be boys, and girls...well, girls had their own stereotypical roles to play.  While boys could easily be Dennis the Menace, girls were typically expected to be either Margaret (the smart, ladylike one) or Gina (the attractive, semi-tomboy one), and parents often idealized their daughters as a combination of the two:  an attractive, smart, ladylike, feminine child who could play girls athletics of be cheerleaders.  And girls were interested in clothes, cooking, sewing, giggling, and other womanly arts.

Perhaps I'm laying it on a bit thick but perhaps not. Case in point:  Polly Pigtails, a magazine aimws at grammar school girls (roughly age 7-12) put out by the publishers of Parents Magazine in the late Forties.  Polly Pigtails spawned all sorts of merchandising and an untold number of Polly Pigtails Clubs and was a marketer's wet dream.  After a few years, the magazine's title was briefly shortened to Polly and eventually morphed into Young Miss, and then YM, but it was Polly Pigtails who started the ball rolling.

The magazine is often referred to as a comic book, but it was actually a general interest publication that had a few comic stories in it.  There were articles with a lot of pictures, advertisements disguised as articles, some clean-cut fiction, profiles of current child actors, craft projects, advice columns, cooking instructions (in the issue tagged below, we learn that a "mock chicken casserole's"main ingredient is tunafish), articles on fashion, puzzles, clean living, a sometimes healthy disregard for boys, and a sometimes healthy regards for boys.

And there were pigtails.  Lots and lots of pigtails.

This link shows you a number of the magazine's covers:

And this link shows you how society and Polly Pigtails did much to screw up the young girls of seventy years ago:

And this link takes you to a discussion of what Polly Pigtails and her ilk spawned (while focusing on a magazine that went in a slightly different direction):

And, finally, here's issue #27.  An issue worth reading with a critical eye.

(And I know that many women have fond memories of magazines aimed at young and teen-aged girls.  And that many feel these magazines were harmless juvenile fare.  But were they?  As a representative of the Y chromosome, I don't have a dog in this fight, but as a cantankerous geezer, I'm not happy with pigeon-holing more than half the human race.)


  1. Jerry, some of the covers look like covers of Harvey and Archie Comics. I prefer the early issues.

  2. I had a next door neighbor who won the "Miss Polly Pigtails" contest--I believe about 1949. It was a contest for the cutest girl who had pigtails. Any way of verifying this fact, as I can give you her name.