Well, it wasn’t that long ago that cellulite didn’t exist. Just half a century ago, women in the US and Australia had never heard of the word. That all changed when Nicole Ronsard came along.
Body positive author Megan Jayne Crabbe has exposed the secret history of cellulite in a podcast with Russell Brand.
#donthatetheshake is the social media, body positive movement we can’t get enough of:
She tells Brand that those lumps and bumps, which nearly every woman has, used to be just seen as “a variation of flesh”.
“And then in 1972, a woman, Nicole Ronsard – she owned a beauty salon in New York. And she started selling procedures to get rid of cellulite. She wrote a book about getting rid of cellulite,” Crabbe explains.
Before long, cellulite was seen as a “hideous, disfiguring” flaw.
“And this woman, Nicole she became a millionaire,” Crabbe adds.
Ronsard didn’t invent cellulite. In Europe, beauty businesses had been using the word to sell their services to women since the 1920s. Ronsard, who’d moved from France to the US, clearly saw the potential to sell a few services herself.
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In a 1973 edition of the The New York Times, Ronsard described cellulite – pronounced “sel-lu-leet” – as “fat gone wrong”.
She explained that American women weren’t aware that it was different from “ordinary fat” and required a combination of diet and massage. She offered a course of 20 treatments at her salon for $275. Women who didn’t have $275 to spare could buy her book, Cellulite: Those Lumps, Bumps And Bulges You Couldn’t Lose Before, for $12.95. They did. Within two years, the book had sold more than 200,000 copies in hardcover and 400,000 in paperback.
In 1975, People magazine ran an article headlined “Nicole Ronsard made ‘cellulite’ a U.S. household word – and problem”. In it, Ronsard defended herself against “accusations of quackery” from doctors and nutritionists.