Thursday, 21 October 2010

Beauty Alphabet - D

Here's your weekly installment in The Argus Beauty Alphabet from 1950, this week it's:

"D" is for Daintiness

"D is for daintiness and is possibly the most important letter in the beauty alphabet. You cannot be well groomed if you have not first of all been well scrubbed. No make-up looks attractive unless the skin is fresh and clean.
  • Your bath can be an important beauty treatment, so use a good soap, and use it generously.
  • A complexion brush used with a circular motion can work wonders with the neck, elbows, knees and heels.
  • As steam, plus cream, does a double-time lubricating job, scrub the face, neck and cuticles first, then massage in cream and let the steam do the rest.
  • If you want to be fragrant and dainty, a daily use of a deoderant is a must
  • And, of course, you shampoo you hair once a week? Two lathers and three rinses will bring out attractive lights and leave your hair bright and shiny.
  • Your eyes and teeth are precious possessions, which you must guard as if they were heirloom jewels.
  • Wear glasses if you really need them - (Men DO make passes, at girls who wear glasses), and no matter how much you like reading in bed, discontinue the habit if the light does not shine directly on to your book.
  • Then there are your hands and your nails. Keep a nail brush and hand lotion in your office drawer, and give them a good scrub during your lunch hour.
  • Nail varnish is fun. BUT please watch for chipped polish. Nothing looks worse."
I was trying to find out exactly what they mean by "daintiness". These days I guess we would use "dainty" to mean delicate or small and pretty, but the 1950s meaning seems to have something to do with being fastidious and well-groomed. I found this exchange in a short story called Bernice Bobs Her Hair by F. Scott Fitzgerald, from the collection of short stories Flappers and Philosophers. Although it was written in 1920, it seems to illustrate this use of the word dainty. In the story, which was published Bernice is visiting her cousin Marjorie, who is giving her advice on how to be more popular with young men. The short story was based on letters which Fitzgerald wrote to his younger sister Annabel, on the same topic.

Bernice says:

"Don't I look alright?"

"No; for instance, you never take care of your eyebrows. They're black and lustrous, but by leaving them straggly, they're a blemish. They'd be beautiful if you'd take care of them in one-tenth the time you take doing nothing. You're going to brush them so they grow straight."

Bernice raised the brows in question.

"Do you mean to say that men notice eyebrows?"

"Yes - subconsciously. And when you go home you ought to have your teeth straightened a little. It's almost imperceptible, still --"

"But I thought," interrupted Bernice in berwilderment, "that you despised little dainty feminine things like that."

"I hate dainty minds," answered Marjorie. "But a girl has to be dainty in person. If she looks like a million dollars she can talk about Russia, ping-pong, or the League of Nations and get away with it."

You can read the rest of Bernice Bobs Her Hair if you so desire, on Google Books here.

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