Tag: Charles Atlas

Charles Atlas and the Golden Age of American Constipation

Constipation: a condition in which there is difficulty in emptying the bowels, usually associated with hardened faeces.

Constipation may seem an odd topic of study, but the history of the condition and efforts aimed at relieving it open up interesting social, political and economic histories . From 1900 to 1940, the United States suffered a pandemic of constipation. The condition was widely acknowledged in public discourse and a thorn in the side of the medical profession. Today’s article focuses on Physical Culturist Charles Atlas’s role in promoting anti-constipation remedies. In examining Atlas’s story we will look briefly at what the medical profession had to say about the condition and what marketers were selling to consumers before examining what the ‘World’s Most Perfectly Developed Man’ had to say. It’s a story as bizarre as it is interesting.

Charles Atlas’s ‘Special Secret for Rapidly Building Enormous Power’

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When Atlas Wasn’t Playing Tug-of-War he was giving out Diet Tips

“I realize you are anxious to build up great strength and power as soon as possible. Here is a simple secret which should help give you the results you hope for.”

Charles Atlas, Mail Order Workout Programme, Lesson Two, c.1930s

 In 1921 Charles Atlas won Bernarr McFadden’s ‘Most Perfectly Developed Man Competition’. In 1922, he won again and by this time McFadden ceased holding the competition. Rumour has it McFadden stopped because he felt Atlas would win every time. By the end of the 1920s Atlas was marketing his own unique mail order workout programme aimed at delivering fast results to his customers. The World’s Most Perfectly Developed Man promised to turn his weak students into dynamic man, just as Atlas had done with himself. In just 12 basic lessons,  Atlas covered everything from diet and training to the right mind-set for building an awesome physique.

In the second lesson of the Atlas programme, aspiring muscle men (and women) were given a secret muscle-building programme by Atlas. It revolved around a single food…a ‘super food’ in modern day parlance.

“Hey Skinny, Your Ribs Are Showing”: Charles Atlas and American Masculinity

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Introduction

Consciously or unconsciously, we are all aware of Charles Atlas and his business. In today’s article we will look at Atlas, Physical Culture and constructions of White Masculinity in 1920s to 40s America. I believe Atlas’s ‘Dynamic Tension’ product was successful in this time as claimed to provide men with masculine qualities that they wanted at a time when American White masculinity was seen as threatened. Atlas did not target other races, genders or sexual orientations instead focusing solely on white male heterosexuals. Atlas once said: “15 minutes a day! Give me just this and I’ll prove I can make you a new man.” Well in much less than 15 minutes you’ll have an idea of what type of man Atlas and his customers had in mind.