Those who lived long ago, in a difficult-to-fathom age known by paleontologists as “the 20th century,” liked to imagine what life would be like in our era. They would likely be disappointed (as are we) at the utter dearth of flying cars. Their hopes for a peaceful future would be shattered if they could see that we continue to excel in finding more efficient ways to kill each other. They might also be surprised at how short today’s women are.
In December 1950, the Associated Press distributed an article to newspapers throughout the United States. “How Experts Think We’ll Live in 2000 A.D.” (apparently believing it would be acceptable to put the “A.D.” after the year instead of the front, where it belongs) proclaimed predictions about 21st-century life from several Associated Press editors.
The full-page piece envisions 4-D movies, a workweek of 20-35 hours, and a U.S. population that might possibly reach as high as 200 million people. It also included the startling headline: “WOMEN: For President!”
Editor Dorothy Roe prognosticated about the 21st-century woman. She hesitantly predicted, “She may even be president.” Roe was much less hesitant in the way she foresaw the changes in the female form:
The woman of the year 2000 will be an outsize Diana, anthropologists and beauty experts predict. She will be more than six feet tall, wear a size 11 shoe, have shoulders like a wrestler and muscles like a truck driver.
Chances are she will be doing a man’s job, and for this reason will dress to fit her role. Her hair will be cropped short, so as not to get in the way. She probably will wear the most functional clothes in the daytime, go frilly only after dark.
Slacks probably will be her usual workaday costume. These will be of synthetic fiber, treated to keep her warm in winter and cool in summer, admit the beneficial ultra-violet rays and keep out the burning ones. They will be light weight and equipped with pockets for food capsules, which she will eat instead of meat and potatoes.
Her proportions will be perfect, though Amazonian, because science will have perfected a balanced ration of vitamins, proteins and minerals that will produce the maximum bodily efficiency, the minimum of fat.
She will go in for all kinds of sports – probably will compete with men athletes in football, baseball, prizefighting and wrestling.
She’ll be in on all the high-level groups of finance, business and government.
She may even be president.
Roe was not alone in the prediction that 21st-century women would be much taller. Ann Delafield wrote, “Nature seems bent on producing a new race of Amazons. Within the next 50 years, you’ll find the emancipated woman engaging actively in such sports as football, baseball and soccer. She’ll think nothing of chopping the wood and acting as family car mechanic.”
Delafield noted that the transformation from petite to extra-large had already begun. She pointed out that the shoulders of girls are 2 to 3 inches wider than their mothers’, and their gloves are several sizes larger, as well. To top it off, she observes that many teenage girls find it necessary to stoop down to be able to kiss their boyfriends.
What is causing this feminine growth spurt? Delafield explains. “Goodness knows what will happen if they continue to soak up vitamins and sunshine and just keep sprouting,” she writes. “Girls from the sunshine states, California, Texas and New Mexico can dwarf the girls from the Northeast.”
Confession time. The writers and editorial staff of Commonplace Fun Facts are exclusively male. The influence of a Y chromosome and testosterone, coupled with already-dubious social skills have always made the female of the species a bit of an enigma to us. Perhaps that is why we overlooked the fact that women and potted plants respond in the same way to sunlight. Boys bulk up through exercise and a healthy diet. Apparently, all it takes to raise a strapping daughter is a nice sun lamp.
When we focus the sun’s light on the harsh reality of 21st-century life, it turns out the expectations about a world of Amazonian women have yet to materialize. According to this AP News article, today’s women are only 0.5 inches taller than they were in the 1960s. We can only speculate that this is due to the healthy use of sunscreen. It might inhibit the latent growth spurt in girls, but at least they don’t have to be as concerned about skin cancer.
And we are still waiting for the flying cars.