Thursday, 9 December 2010

Beauty Alphabet - I

"I" for Inches

""Streamlined for summer" is the smart girl's slogan. If you have a good figure you should look after it. If you haven't, you should do something about it.

Don't, in a burst of enthusiasm, launch out into a strict diet. You will finish up with a scraggy neck and find yourself fatigued and irritable. A diet which takes inches off your waistline and the pep out of your step is not a good diet.

The average diet should take off about a pound a week. Problems that require more drastic treatment should be handled according to a doctor's directions.


Daily exercises are essential. Here are some you can do in bed.
  • Lie flat on the bed and stretch out your toes ten times
  • Pedal your legs as if riding a bicycle for two minutes
  • Revolve your feet to keep ankles trim, ten times in each direction
  • Finish with ten deep breaths before an open window
(from The Argus, 9 November 1950)

Here is a diet from 1955, the Slim Gourmet Diet. It's a calorie-counting diet, similar to Weight Watchers. I was suprised at how sensible it is! The authors explain that the amount of calories each person needs depends on how active they are, so "a woman tram conductor needs more than a stenographer".

They go on to offer the following tips:
  • The way to become slender is not to deny yourself the pleasures of food, but to take still greater joy in eating. When you enjoy your food you are able to eat less.
  • The three hand-maidens of food enjoyment are taste, variety, and naturalness. If you eat a frankfurt [!] for its taste, slowly and with pleasure, you are satisfied; if you do not consciously enjoy the frankfurt you may take a second and third, until you are stuffed.
  • No single diet can be prescribed for all. Each of us is born with a clear and unchangeable food personality. We love some foods, abhor others. Some of us eat heartily in the morning, others at lunch, others not until dinner; some can and some cannot eat between meals of before bed. Follow your habits - don't fight them.
  • No food is fattening in itself. The only two restrictions are: Fix your calorie allotment and tailor the size of your portions accordingly.
  • Your main weapon in the fight against quantity-eating is quality-eating. Cultivate the pleasure of taste, making use of variety, and bringing to the fore what I believe is a basic instinct for simple, natural dishes.

Then there is a calorie chart. It's interesting to look through this and to get an idea of what foods were commonly eaten in 1955. I suspect that this is an American diet, as there is a whole section for pies, including apple, apricot, banana custard, butterscotch, lemon meringue, fruit mince, peach and rhubarb. Puddings include the very 50s tapioca pudding, junket, rice custard, bread pudding, banana custard, and fruit gelatine shape (which is listed separately from jelly, so perhaps this is jelly with fruit in it?). There's a section for fats too, including bacon fat, chicken fat, dripping, and lard.

And finally a daily calorie recommendation, based on your ideal weight for height and age, and taking into account whether your work is sedentary, fairly active, very active, or heavy. This will give you the number of calories needed to maintain your ideal weight. They recommend cutting that number by 500 calories a day, to lose a pound a week.

I've never counted calories before, and I was interested to see what they thought my ideal weight should be. At 29 years old and 5'5", with an average frame, I should apparently be 132 pounds, or 60 kilos. This seems very reasonable, and is in fact the weight that I feel healthy at. For some reason I thought a 1955 me would be expected to be lighter!

I would take any 1955 advice on diets with a pinch of salt, but it wasn't as crazy as I thought it would be.

(from The Australian Women's Weekly, 12 October 1955)


  1. Great post as usual! I am loving these alphabet beauty tips! I have to say I was surprised too at how sensible the advice was. I kind of thought it would be about diet pills or something. Their advice kind of measures up to my approach to keeping weight off - eating sensible portions of very nice food which is not processed (organic F&V and homemade cakes). I have cake every day, but only a small (ish!) piece. And a bit of Zumba to work it off on Saturdays! Life is far too short to be dieting all the time. Thanks for all the great posts this year and have a lovely Christmas. Maria x

  2. Oh I'm glad you are enjoying them, it's fun ferreting out vintage tips and pictures to put in them! Have a lovely Christmas also! XXX

  3. I shall remember this when i go for that 'tram conductor' job... ;)x