Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Your Power as A Woman: Hygiene and Exercise


As promised, I've been reading through the 1956 women's self help book Your Power as a Woman and lordamighty...the minutiae of every day gal-living in the 1950's! I've been imagining myself as an Eisenhower-era housewife of my current age, unemployed, married, and bent on self-improvement, picking up this book at the corner drugstore in the same impulse buy that made me pick up the Whitman's sampler and the copy of Screen Star with Liz Taylor on the cover (she was in Giant that year!).

Win, win....and win.

First, a checklist for the improvement plan laid out by author Alma Archer during the course of the text. I love how little these goals have changed over the year! "Intrigue your man" is probably my favorite:

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And a pep talk to those in need of one, even before they've started the program:


I could be any of those things! Where's "plucky young library employee with beehive and mania for fifties' social knowledge"? Well, they can add that in later editions, I guess.

Don't forget the ABC's (and D) of this improvement plan:


Hygeine takes up the next chapter. These chapters breeze by! And let us examine the importance of beauty in everyday life:


I was reminded, in reading this, of a post I think Solanah at Vintage Vixen did about people asking how she could wear beautiful vintage outfits every day, all day, full time, and she replied, "I only have beautiful vintage clothes!" I wish I could find the exact post, but it was something along that line. A remark which I treasure in my heart, as well as try to keep in mind when editing my closet and paring down to just-what-I-love when closet space gets scarce. So! "Have you touched beauty today?" I hope so! And if not, let's make a plan to do so more often.

Archer expounds upon the many benefits of luxuriating in a "beauty bath" at least once a day...not merely "scrubbing off dirt" but planning "your emergence as a beautiful butterfly" through the wonders of bubble-based baths. I have to tell you, sitting here a few hours after my brisk morning shower at 7 AM, in which I am hardly cognizant of the basics, much less the finer points, of bathing, I feel pretty louche. When I could have had a beauty bath! But time, again, is a key factor in all this being possible. After the bath, she suggests putting eau de cologne on a still wet body, drying off in a big Turkish towel, and applying "dusting powder" before dressing. This routine sounds so Dinah Shore to me, and yet! I'm envious of that "perfume and powder" smell I'm sure this routine elicits.

Next, some exercises. Notice that the last is entitled "Bust Exercises". Notice me tittering to myself in the back of the room. The illustrations here are pretty neat, no?

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Something to keep in mind while exercising, and maybe one of the most hilarious parts of the book (Archer, you snide thing you):


Next up, diet! You wouldn't believe the 14 day plan Al-Arch's got us on in the pre Slim Fast, pre diet shake days....real food but real little of it, in my reckoning...but you decide when we get there.

Yours in MidCentury perfection attainment, til next time!


  1. My favourite is to "push firmly away from the table when offered a second helping"! Obviously the person who wrote this never had dinner with either of my grandmothers or my mother!
    I wish I was in the habit of taking baths. Even with a gorgeous old clawfoot tub to use, I still opt to use the shower all the time...which always irritated my dad because he and my grandfather went to a lot of trouble to bring that tub from my bathroom in our old (very old) house to my bathroom in our new house on my whim (the worst was how they had to roll it into the little alcove it sits in--and just barely fits in!). Poor Daddy and Pappy! OK, it's official: I'm making a resolution right now to take a "beauty bath" at least once a week from now on!

  2. Love it! What Alma doesn't understand is that in order to take a beauty bath befitting of a butterfly, one must have a sparkling clean tub devoid of any mildew or grime. I simply don't have time for that kind of upkeep what with trying to keep my man intrigued, attempting to touch beauty and getting permanent waves. Being a lady is hard.

  3. oh i just love this! i simply adore old beauty tips

  4. THE BEST EXERCISE OF ALL IS NOT EATING! Haha, history is hilarious.


  5. Terrific information from the past! It is even written n a voice that resonates with the style, tone and cadence of the era! Plus, adding your voice as commentary of the day, along with your commenting guests, really makes it a joy to read!



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