The Fragrance of Beauty: Ladies, to win God's love, try make-up and deodorant
Each Thursday, your Crap Archivist brings you the finest in forgotten and bewildering crap culled from basements, thrift stores, estate sales and flea markets. I do this for one reason: Knowledge is power.
The Fragrance of Beauty
Author: "Joyce Landorf, radiant beauty." Seriously, that's straight from the about-the-author page.
Publisher: SP Publications
Discovered at: Thrift store
The Cover Promises: "Joyce Landorf deals with a host of other enemies that would rob you of your fragrant beauty -- both inner and outer loveliness."
- "Actually, your husband has looked at you, and when he caught a glimpse of your Phyllis Diller hairdo and Mama Cass figure, he didn't feel like he wanted to look any farther. He didn't have any incentive to express his love, and he certainly was handicapped in trying to see what God might see in you." (page 19)
Early in The Fragrance of Beauty -- a title chosen, presumably, only after rejecting The Stench of Comeliness and The Redolence of Pulchritude, "radiant beauty" Joyce Landorf shares hard truths in what at first sounds like the setup to a joke.
"If three pagan women and one Christian woman were waiting for a bus at the corner, you could instantly tell which one was the Christian," she writes, pretty much inviting readers to offer punchlines.
(My best? The Christian is the only one whose ancient blood ritual is metaphorical.)
But Landorf's own answer can't be beat:
"[The Christian] was always the perfectly dreadful looking one."
Yes, in the early 70s, singer and To Lib or Not to Lib author Landorf looked deep into the souls of believers and found that they needed foundation. She writes:
"What disturbed my friend Perky and subsequently aroused me was the large segment of Christian women who, while they dressed neatly and modestly, still had the drab, worn-out bathrobe look."
What disturbs Perky arouses me, too.
Of the typical woman of faith, Landorf snaps,"She was considered 'very spiritual.' (I used to think, 'Yes, ugly, but definitely spiritual.')"
For all her cattiness, Landorf deserves credit for taking on the belief, then prevalent in many churches, that a godly woman should not concern herself with worldly appearance. She points out that "Man certainly does look on the outside!"
She suggests that women pluck stray hairs, experiment with eye-shadow ("sparingly, however, because you're not dressing up for a circus"), dare lipstick, and "seek out a hairdresser or even a good men's barber for a haircut, trim, or style change as often as needed."
Key traits of "the beautiful women of faith and face that God intended":
So, that's about two pages of a 143 page book. To fill the rest, Landorf argues that without inner beauty, based on faith and serenity, there can be no true outer beauty, which goes against that whole public-transportation pagans example, but whatever.
Here she describes a fashion model who, while beautiful, spoke "the most filthy, critical and angry language we'd ever heard.":
"The brilliant, dancing lights in her hair dulled. Her eyelashes, once long black sweeps of beauty, grew shorter and shorter and became ugly stumps. Her skin showed red blotches, scars from a latent teen-age case of acne seemed to appear, and her hips began to thicken. Her once slim ankles looked exactly as mine had when I was nine months pregnant with Laurie and retaining all fluids."
Your Crap Archivist can't make sense of this. The "vile outpouring of her soul" made a great beauty so ugly-on-the-outside that Lanford is reminded of her own pregnancy -- the life-blessed time when, spiritually, she was at her most beautiful?
Lanford guides us through the dangers to inner beauty: the "roaring lion" of fear and the "scampering mouse" of worry. She writes, "One of the first ingredients of beauty and graciousness in a woman is a cool, relaxed, prepared look... This prerequisite of charm is completely obliterated by the lion of fear."
(Note to ladies: maintain your poise during lion attacks.)
The animal motif continues throughout.
Rejected Chapter Titles:
Sloth: The Ocelot of Not Doing Stuff
- Gluttony: Like a Hippo You Go from Hungry, Hungry to Unfulfilled, Unfulfilled
- The Subsequently Arousing Beauty of Perky
- Sadness: A Chimp in Overalls Crying "Why?" After Its Balloon Has Popped
When this last title came to me, I was so struck by the sadness of a chimp with a popped balloon that I asked co-workers to attempt to capture the image.
Landorf describes moments when women should not let fear "vandalize her soul":
- "A distraught young wife, biting at the edge of what was once a fingernail, says 'My husband has been out of work for months; we may have to go into bankruptcy.' "
- "A wife, barely able to control her ravaged emotions, trembles as she blurts out, 'My worst fears have come true... My husband says he's never loved me, that he's "gay," a practicing homosexual, and he's leaving me.' "
From a page-long list of common fears women should face coolly.
From the first page of my copy:
Sylvia, you're beautiful on the inside. Now lose some weight!
BONUS CRAP: More sad monkeys!
[The Crap Archivist lives in Kansas City, where he originates his online Studies for the Voice's sister paper, The Pitch.]
The mighty Studies in Crap e-mail list updates you whenever a new SiC post hits. Sign up at email@example.com.
Get the This Week's Top Stories Newsletter
Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts stories — along with film and food reviews and the best things to do this week — so that you’ll never miss Village Voice's biggest stories.