How to Get Thin (1922)

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Carl Anderson, manager of Educational, which in the 1920s and 1930s specialized in short subjects, produced this amusing one-reel film which apparently uses an actual overweight woman -- not an actress -- as its star. Ima Gobbler (obviously not her real name) weighs in at 172 pounds with a 36-inch waist -- hefty even in the days when the feminine ideal wasn't as thin as it is now. Her friend, Mrs. Growthin (not her real name, either), insists that "every pound off the hips is a year off the age" and drags her to a doctor who advises her, "No candy, nothing made out of white flour, no pork, no potatoes; eat all you want of everything else." He also teaches her a few exercises and instructs her to apply rubbing alcohol to her neck (a dermatologist this guy wasn't). Mrs. Gobbler diligently does as instructed (her chubby husband, Heza, however, is too lazy to follow her lead). Five months later, she's 40 pounds thinner and jubilant. But the doctor warns her, "Getting thin isn't any more permanent than taking a bath," and instructs her to keep exercising and continue avoiding starchy foods. This novelty was one of Educational's more unusual films.