Before and after: The DuBarry Success Course | Intellect Skip to content
Volume 1, Issue 3
  • ISSN: 2050-0742
  • E-ISSN: 2050-0750



At any time of day or night, we can witness a ‘makeover’ segment on morning and afternoon television talk shows: programmes such as What Not to Wear (2003) or The Biggest Loser (2004); virtual salons and online makeover video games produced by cosmetic companies and networks (Mary Kay, Revlon, Lifetime, Oxygen). This article examined an important early player in the makeover game, the DuBarry Success Course, which operated on a mail-order basis beginning in 1940. What started as a beauty salon programme for debutantes was translated into a mail-order ‘course’ available for a fraction of the price. Advertisements featuring black and white photographs of clients ‘before’ and ‘after’ coupled with testimonial headlines and personal details appeared in Mademoiselle, Life, Good Housekeeping and Woman’s Day. Women who achieved remarkable weight loss participated in an ‘Achievement Award’ contest featuring an all-expenses paid trip to New York City, including a stay at the Waldorf-Astoria, theatre and night clubs. During World War II, marketing materials directly appealed to improving appearance as a patriotic duty. It is estimated that more than 100,000 became Success Course students during an eight-year period. Although the language used in DuBarry advertisements and promotions may not resonate with, or offend, contemporary audiences, the ‘style’ may have changed, but the desire for a ‘makeover’ remains.


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  • Article Type: Article
Keyword(s): advertising; beauty; dieting; DuBarry; makeover; reinvention
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