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Home Book of Beauty & Charm

A black and white photo of a woman serving breakfast to her husband at a dining table.

Hello Friends,

I know this is a crazy busy time of year, and sometimes the last things we want to think about are good posture, good manners, and impeccable grooming. I came across a book this morning at Nostalgia, which was published in 1951. The book is entitiled: “Sally Young’s Home Book of Beauty and Charm” by Sally Young. Think about what the culture of 1951 would have entailed. Although some women worked outside of the home, many women were housewives and “stay-at-home” moms. The emphasis was not only on taking good care of your family, but you had better look good while doing it! Now, I know that nowadays it is difficult to get through a day without looking totally spent and washed out by day’s end, but the women of the ’50s were trained to look as beautiful in the home as they did outside the home. Consider these lines from the book,

“We have no statistics on how many husbands rush off
to a day’s work without breakfast. But we’ll bet a dollar
to a doughnut we know who’s to blame. His little helpmate –
that glamour girl who became a scarecrow after he married her.
You can’t blame the poor man for losing his appetite if he
has to face a drab, sleepy-eyed, hair-in-curlers woman over
the breakfast table. No secretary ever looks like that to him.”

Women who worked outside of the home were advised to wear suits and to own at least 1 suit for winter, one for summer. She was told to add variety with sweaters, blouses, and accessories. Now, this isn’t all that different from today’s professional dress, except that the styles have changed and the rules have been relaxed. Personally, having studied and practiced image consulting and personal styling, I do know that looking one’s best influences behavior, self-esteem, and enhances general well-being. I’m not saying that we can’t wear sweatpants at home, especially after working a long day, but studies have shown that when we dress the part, we’re more likely to act the part. In other words, if I want to get anything done after work, I’d better not change out of my work clothes first! Similarly, studies show that casual dressing on the job can lead to poor performance, less focus, and a desire to leave the job early! Casual Fridays have indeed become casual everyday for many workplaces, and it often shows in reduced productivity. I love to be comfortable, but I just can’t get used to pajamas and slippers outside the home, which I see as a lack of respect for self and for others. I know that we have come a long way since 1951, but there is something to be said about an attractive wardrobe, good grooming, good posture, and impeccable manners. This goes for men as well as for women. I see the casual emphasis of today as a lowering of standards in our society, and a big part of me longs for the stricter standards of the past. That said, let’s all try a little harder to emulate some of those glamorous women (and men) from our past – we’ll look and feel all the better for it.

I think that women over 40 are particularly vulnerable in their quest for looking and feeling great.  As we age, we run into so many physical issues that seem to prevent us from doing things we used to love to do.  This may include exercise, as some of us have a harder time putting in the effort it takes to keep up the fitness level of our youth. 

For some of us, our diets change too, due to hormonal fluctuations that seem to create monstrous cravings.  You know what I mean, ladies!  But as belly fat grew and hot flashes raged, I looked for ways to battle these mysterious changes.  Along with these issues, I also noticed that I was having digestive problems and discomfort more often, especially after consuming meals that included lots of starchy foods. 

Fortunately, I came across a book called “The Virgin Diet” by JJ Virgin.  This book gave me a new perspective on health and diet.  Working as a traditionally trained dietitian for so many years, what I was reading in JJ’s book was the opposite of what I used to tell patients.  Back in the ’80s and ’90s, it was all about consuming less fat and eating more carbohydrates (they formed the bottom portion of the food pyramid, after all!).  This way of eating was no longer working for me.
What I discovered in The Virgin Diet was a way to figure out which foods were the culprits in my distress.  Once I tried this elimination diet as best I could (I AM human!), I not only lost the extra weight that plagued me since the onset of menopause, but I stopped having the symptoms that went along with it.  I, like many women, thought that we were doomed to this hormonal fate, but this does not need to be the case.  The scary changes I made in my diet were well worth the effort. 

Of course, the gluten-free, dairy-free path has become extremely popular in the past few years and food companies are trying to meet that consumer need.  The bottom line is, ladies, that as a friend said to me once, “We are NOT going down!!”

Happy Holidays, Dear Readers!

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