This book, published in 1954, gives us step-by-step instructions (377 pages of them!) on how to be "charming" in every aspect of life. In a nutshell, everything we do every moment of the day is a performance, ladies. With Mr. Powers help, we can learn how to look, sound, and act beguiling at all times.
Here's Mr. Powers on the meaning and significance of charm:
It is easier to dissect charm that to define it. On analyzing every facet, you immediately discover the source in a wellspring of consideration for the sensitivities of others. Thus, when a woman sincerely desires to please the eyes, ears, and feelings of those around her, she strives for an attractive appearance and manner and is well on her way to becoming a charmer.
So if I don't strive to be charming, it's because I am so heartless that I don't care if I'm forcing everyone to look at some hideous frump. (Wow, it almost sounds like it's my Christian duty to turn myself into a Powers model!)
So, where do I start? Well, the first section is called Charming of Form. In it I'm shown how to get my body shape in line with the proper standards:
Look in Your Mirror Now!
Is your figure what you want it to be?
Well, actually, it is. But I guess I'm about to find out whether my figure is what YOU want it to be, Mr. Powers.
Beauty, grace, and a way with fashion, have their origins in a well-proportioned, lissome body. Even the most enchanting face and costume cannot fully overcome the appearance of an ill-balanced figure.
Whatever you detect -- overweight, underweight, or spotty distribution of flesh -- face the fact. Unless you do, there is no hope of correction.
Done? Then as of this moment, perfection is within your easy grasp.
Perfection! Oh, thank you so much! But first, I have to acknowledge the fact that the current state of my body is flawed. Otherwise, there's no hope.
Those encouraging words are followed by:
- A chart to tell me exactly what I should weigh based on my height and wrist measurement.
- A diet plan to help me lose, gain, or maintain my weight as needed.
- A warning that I dare not think it normal for my weight to change as I age. (Susun Weed definitely disagrees with that one!)
- Another chart to tell me exactly what my bust, waist, hip, thigh, calf, ankle, and upper arm measurements should be based on my height and frame: "You could tip the scales at the weight that is ideal for you, but a too large hip or a too small bosom would immediately destroy the streamlining that always distinguishes a twentieth-century Venus."
- Spot-reducing and spot-increasing exercises to get each body part in line with the correct measurement.
- A handy chart so that I can track my weight and measurement progress every week. The chart covers a 12-week period. I guess that's how long it takes to become perfect.
Mercy! I had no idea that I had so much work to do to demonstrate my concern for my fellow man by becoming a 20th century Venus (never mind that it's the 21st century now, being charming is a woman's eternal duty). And I've only made it through page 54!
Don't worry, girls. I'll share more pearls of wisdom from Mr. Powers from time to time so that we can all be better citizens. In the meantime, we can discuss what we've learned so far.
UPDATE: I just realized that this post is the perfect place to link to a blog I stumbled across recently. Is this healthy? discusses beauty standards for women, with a focus on women in the entertainment industry.