News & Politics

Hey, Big Berthas! Studies in Crap and Lady Be Lovely Will Clothe You in the Garment of Glamour!

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Your Crap Archivist brings you the finest in
forgotten and bewildering crap culled from basements, thrift
stores, estate sales and flea markets. He does this for one reason:
Knowledge is power.

Lady, Be Lovely: A Guide to Beauty, Glamour and Sex Appeal

ladybelovelycover.jpg

Author: Edyth Thornton McLeod

Publisher: Wilcox and Follett

Date: 1955

Discovered at: Estate sale

The Cover Promises: Foot stretching!
Neck powdering! Widow’s peak maintenance! Desperately seizing your
hand before it opens the refrigerator!

Representative Quotes

Page 13: “When a woman forgets to
say ‘thank you’ for some act of courtesy, the man should verbally
remind her of her bad manners, or lack of good ones, whichever you
prefer!”

Page 199: “I wonder what makes some
women think they can wear tight Levis of clingy denim and
wild-patterned blouses or sweaters when they are built like Big
Berthas.”

A toast to the modern American lady!

In the 1940s you hit the factories to
show she could handle any man’s work – and that your bombs could
burst as well as his. In the 1960s, you announced that you could
handle career and family both if you so chose.

In the 1980s, you
discovered you damn well had to handle both if you didn’t want
that family to starve. Then in the 2000s you thrilled us all by
demonstrating that any of her kind has a crack at 1600 Pennsylvania
Avenue itself- – provided you’re hot enough, or had the foresight to
share a bed for decades with a prior inhabitant.

And in the 1950s, you had the Edyth
Thornton McLeods of the world commanding you to be lovely.

To be charming.

To “clothe yourself in the garment of
glamour!”

Even to maintain your poise right through a
third-degree scalding. As McLeod writes, “A poised person would never
show anger if a waiter should spill soup on her best hat.”

ladybelovelysoup.jpg

Charm and Beauty

In the preface to this practical guide
to the best way to sculpt yourself to the standards of a world that
hates the real you, McLeod writes, “The desire for beauty — or if
you are the more practical type, for good looks — is inherent in
every woman. You can be as beautiful or good-looking as you desire.”

ladybelovelybackb.jpg

The difference between “beauty” and
“good looks”? Charm, which McLeod defines as “that mysterious
something which sets you apart from the average person.”

Here’s a measure of charm’s importance:
“Sarah Bernhardt (1844-1923) was actually unattractive of face
and figure, but somehow her charm cast an aura of mystery and
excitement about her.”

So potent is your charm that it can slow the pace of
society’s crumbling. By 1955, men no longer felt obligated to treat
their everyday ladies with the deference customary in the good old
days. But the lovely lady inspires chivalry:

“We women must act so charmingly and
well mannered that men will instinctively want to remove their
hats in elevators, to help us with bundles, as well as with budgets,
that they will want to open doors for us!”

So, how does a modern, ugly Sarah
Bernhadt-type inspire fellows to bundle-handling? Here are McLeod’s tips
on charm and poise:

  • “You should have a ‘wardrobe’
    of stationery, with at least six different styles and sizes of
    paper.”

  • To achieve a pleasing tone, read
    poetry out loud for five minutes a day.

  • “When you read a book, read
    it; get something out of it that you may bring into your
    conversation.”

  • Abdicate what gains you’ve made.
    “Although they haven’t yet achieved equal pay for equal work,
    women have assumed all of the details and have taken on all of the
    responsibilities. But when with an escort — husband, beau, or
    business acquaintance — please put on your best lady manners and
    ‘Let George do it!’ Let him open doors, hail the taxis, give
    directions, and order the dinner!”

Your Figure

ladybelovelyfigure2.jpg

McLeod’s remarks on physical beauty
kick off with a world-class philosophical conundrum:

“Your figure
is YOU, your personality personified.”

Besides stirring up
fundamental mind/body questions, as well as all that old-school form
vs. substance controversy, this is a whole bunch of weird chili. I
mean, isn’t your personality already its own
personification?

Please discuss.

And then, weep over the
incontrovertible scientific reality of your hugeness:

ladybelovelyidealweight.jpg

After breaking your spirit, McLeod addresses the need for
good diet, good posture, and how good gloves “without decoration,
in costume color” can flatter the short-armed. 

She points our that “Our modern
civilization demands bodily cleanliness as an aid to health and good
looks” and suggests “For stimulation, massage the body
with bath oil, then stand under a warm shower.”

ladybelovelyshower.jpg

Shocking Detail: McLeod considers the four basic shapes
of ladies: “The Long Type,” “The Short Figure,” “The Fat,”
and “The Thin.” Here’s a helpful crime-scene photo.

ladybelovelybodytypes.jpg

Highlight:

From “Your Bosom”:

“The only time I would advise you to
put up a ‘false’ front is when Nature has denied you the beauty
of a well-defined bosom. Fashion says that the bosom should be softly
rounded, with an uplifted contour. Do you qualify?”

ladybelovelyyourbosom.jpg

McLeod recommends exercise and plastic
surgery but draws the line there. “There are no creams or lotions
yet made which will increase or decrease the breasts. Massage of this
sensitive area is not recommended.

[The Crap Archivist lives in Kansas City, where he originates his on-line Studies for the Voice‘s sister paper, The Pitch.]