Today's Los Angeles Times had an article from 1902 titled "How to be Healthy and Beautiful," with the subtitle Putting Symmetrical Curves Upon the Weak, Emaciated Figure of a Worrying Woman.
Though the text itself is hard to read (click on the image of the full article to pull up the jpeg and zoom in), much of the advice in the article seems familiar to what we might hear today:
A famous French doctor once said to me: "The only way to successfully treat emaciation is to search for the mental cause and abolish it." It is not difficult to discover the explanation of a bony woman, if one makes a study of the subject. But it is quite a different matter to supplant the angles with curves.
Sound like the standard lines from ED treatment providers? Thankfully, we have some better treatments now.
And this paragraph comparing obesity and emaciation:
Feminine beauty is not compatible with either extreme stoutness or emaciation. The fat woman is repellant because all the contours of beauty are gone; the hollow-cheeked, angular, flat-chested woman cannot be really physically lovely either, but the grossness of obesity is certainly more to be deplored than the cadaverous condition of emaciation.
The big difference, of course, is that the article is advice on how to gain weight--something you would never see in today's papers.
Among other things (there are recipes for homemade cold cream, an eyelash/eyebrow grower, and a cream to "reduce fleshy breasts"), the author provides techniques, pictured below, to help the poor worried woman add some pounds. In this case, just lay on your back with a weight on your stomach!
It's a fascinating look at weight from 100 years ago, and an eye-opener into what has changed, and what really hasn't.