Posts Tagged: sun worship

Get your health rays this winter



In America, we like our substitutes. We like sugar substitutes, meat substitutes, and in the 1920′s, we apparently liked glass substitutes. In 1927, Time Magazine published a short article promoting the practicality of newfangled glass substitutes: “Children and animals that live in glassed houses are cheated of that ultraviolet part of the sun’s light which helps the bones ossify. The glass blocks the ultraviolet rays; the children and animals become rickety. Therefore glass substitutes have recently appeared for sale.”

One such wundermaterial was Cel-O-Glass. It was produced by a company out of New York City and promised all the qualities of glass with added medicinal value. Cel-O-Glass was marketed as a new glass-like product particularly useful for constructing a kind of closed-in porch. And, bonus: Cel-O-Glass, which was was “approved by the authorities,” let in the “vitalizing ultra-violet rays of the sun. These are the health rays which produce a healthy coat of tan in the summer. In winter, you can get these rays indoors through Cel-O-Glass.”

For the first three decades of the twentiesth century, sun rays were thought to prevent and cure tuberculosis and rickets (which is partially caused by a vitamin D deficiency, so I guess they were on to something there). According to “The Beach: The History of Paradise on Earth,” sunlight was also an important element of the eugenics movement, thought to be “nature’s universal disinfectant, as well as a stimulant and tonic.” That sun-kissed look, which used to be associated with field work and peasantry, became the height of fashion and health–a tribute to the sculpted and bronzed bodies of ancient Rome and a marker of one’s abundant leisure time spent soaking up the sun on the beach. But come summer, what was a decoloring sun worshiper to do? Thanks to Cel-O-Glass, winter never had to get between you and those “vitalizing” ultra violet rays again.