The Weirdest Advice from Vintage Lit


Acclaimed Japanese novelist Haruki Murakami can now add “advice columnist” to his list of credentials. As we mentioned earlier this week, Murakami is launching an advice column on a new website called “Mr. Murakami’s Place” (“Murakami-san no tokoro” in Japanese). The news inspires visions of an old-school Dear Abby column — but with more man-eating cats and Norwegian wood. We expect unusual and eloquent words of wisdom from the postmodern author. Advice columns have dished out some pretty strange tips over the years. We’ve collected a few favorites for your perusal. Share any doozies you love, below.

If Florida Man became a magazine, this would surely make the cut. We wish Abby asked why they had a pet jaguar, but it’s easy to forget that fact when you reach the “homosexual cat” part of the question.

I am twenty and rather flat-chested. Do you think smoking a lot has anything to do with it?

It is very improbable that smoking excessively would arrest your normal breast development. I suggest you practice deep breathing night and morning before an open window. Try also sponging your breasts with hot — then cold water and finish up with a good cream massage. Carry out to the letter my instructions which I have posted to you.

From Helen Temple’s 1938 Beauty Column 1938, first published in Woman.

Don’t get “salt cellars” (aka “bingo wings”), ladies. Flap your arms like this to keep trim.

Baby shouldn’t be around “moving picture shows, funerals or crowds of any kind.” In fact, just stop procreating because the world is too dangerous.

“Much like Santa Claus, Lucifer sees you and what you eat not just when you are awake, but even when you are sleeping.”

Apparently there’s a history of doling out some very strange advice about abusing your body in the name of fitness. We guess not much has changed.

Boys and their toys.

Women: don’t do anything in public. And if you have to walk on two legs, well, do so at your own risk. From a 1966 public opinion poll.

“If you can make it there, you’ll make it anywhere” clearly doesn’t apply in this case.

When on a date with a man, it’s best to show no emotion. Never let on that you might be having fun — according to this 1938 dating guide for women.