Ideal bodies vary across cultures and time.   In the U.S. today, childhood obesity is considered a significant social problem and is widely covered in the news, on talk shows, and the like.  When food was more scarce, however, having a fat child was a sign of health and well-being.  This ad, from 1898, is for a tonic that will fatten up your child.  How times change.



Lisa Wade is a professor of sociology at Occidental College. You can follow her on Twitter and Facebook.