Weird Words of Wisdom: A Million and One Tricks With a Strand of Pearls Edition

“If you don’t know what foods are fattening, ask your chubby friends, because they will know.”

This week’s offering in my Weird Words of Wisdom series will help you get your glamour on for upcoming holiday celebrations—or at least help you learn to stand like a model.

Betty Cornell’s Glamour Guide for Teens, 1951 (1958 printing)

About the Book: This 25-paperback, written by “famous model” Betty Cornell, purports to offer the secrets of beauty and popularity. Actually, it focuses mostly on grooming basics.

About the Author: Betty Cornell is not the pensive blond on the book’s front cover—she is the white-gloved brunette on the inset photos and the back cover. In the 1940s, she was one of the country’s busiest models of juniors’ fashions, but she actually got her start modeling plus-size clothes. She tells her own story in this book’s introduction—the story of how she went from a “tubby teen” to the possessor of “one of the smallest waistlines of any model in New York.”

At age 16, she decided to “really go to work” on her weight problem. By 1947, according to this syndicated newspaper column, she stood 5’ 8.5” tall and weighed only 90 pounds! (The article claims that her waist measured 19.5 inches, and her hips and bust were both 30 inches.)

It’s lucky that 1958 readers didn’t know her 1940s stats, or they might have raised skeptical eyebrows at all her cautions against starvation diets and overly dramatic weight loss.

In 1951, when this book was first published, Cornell had aged out of her career as a junior model. Writing books for teens was the start of a new career. Her other titles would include All About Boys, Betty Cornell’s Teenage Popularity Guide, and (more oddly) Betty Cornell’s Teenage Knitting Book.

In 1952, she married John Joseph “Jack” Huston of Philadelphia and went on to raise three children. Jack died in 2010, at which time Betty was still alive. In 1977, she was one of several former models interviewed for the book Eileen Ford’s Beauty Now and Forever: Secrets of Beauty after 35. Now that’s a book I’ve got to get my hands on!

The Basics of a High School Wardrobe, According to Betty Cornell

Several slips
Half-slips in nylon and cotton (“Cotton to starch for wear under summer skirts”)
Three or four bras
Panties (“Preferably shirred to give good curve control”)
Girdle
Two or three pairs of nylon stockings
White wool socks for sports
Colored socks to match sweaters and skirts
Assorted sweaters, both long- and short-sleeved. (“Pastel colors look pretty in short-sleeved pull-ons.”)
One good basic suit in a neutral color.
Skirts, both pleated and plain, in dark colors and plaids. (“Wool usually wears the best.”)
A raincoat.
A good basic coat, box cut or flare cut.
A dressy coat. (“Here you can take to fitted lines, for you will wear this coat with party dresses and well-cut fitted suits.”)
A party dress.
A formal.
Low-heeled school shoes.
Dress-up shoes. (With Cuban heel—in calf or suede.)
Evening slippers.
Warm gloves for school.
Dress-up gloves. (“A pair of white cottons, kept clean, will fill almost every bill.”)
A hat. (“For church and formal afternoon parties.”)

Sample Menus for Weight Control
Breakfast: Half a grapefruit, 1 poached egg on rye or whole wheat toast with small amount of butter, 1 glass of milk.
Lunch: Small container of cottage cheese, fresh fruit, any kind of lean meat sandwich, consommé, milk
Dinner:  1 glass of tomato juice, generous serving of broiled calf’s liver, serving of cooked carrots, tomato and lettuce salad with lemon juice, fruit Jello, milk.

The liver alone would do much to control my appetite.

Recommended Hairstyles, Based on Face Shape

Round Face: Smooth sides. “The simpler the hair style the better.”
Square Face: Should be short or shoulder-length, never chin-length. “A short bang or flip at the forehead is a flattering touch.”
Long and Narrow Face: Should always be wavy, never straight. “In-between lengths are the best.”
Heart-Shaped Face: “A soft bang at the forehead will help to mask the width.”
Pear-Shaped Face: “She should keep the interest to the top and have her hair at the bottom short enough to curl just slightly over the edges of the jaw.”
Oval Face: “The teen with the oval face may do as she pleases.” (Wow!)

Quotes from Betty Cornell’s Glamour Guide for Teens

“Often it is necessary to squeeze blackheads in order to force out the little plugs of dirt…After squeezing, rub the skin with ice cubes.”

“Beautiful hair is about the most important thing a girl has.”

“When it comes to shampooing your own hair, plan to save at least one night a week for the job. Most teens prefer Thursday night because it puts their hair in shape for the weekend.”

“As for making up your eyes, don’t. Young eyes need no enhancement.”

“To walk gracefully one must move the leg in one piece.”

“The next time you get up to dance, pull in those tummy muscles, tuck in your fanny, pull up your rib cage, and then dance. If you keep your arm lightly on your partner’s shoulder and your head high, you’ll look as light as a thistledown, be you five feet one or five feet eleven.”

“If you’ve ever watched a model in repose, you’ll notice that she stands with one foot at a right angle to the other, rather like a ballet dancer.”

“You should shave your legs at least once a week, and your underarms less often…”

Why every girl should wear a girdle: “Even a teen with a trim figure needs to coax her curves a bit when it comes to wearing slim skirts and slacks. To me there is nothing more repellent than a protruding fanny or a bulging tummy marring the outline of a narrow silhouette.”

“Get to be known for your sense of color or your sense of accessory. Be the girl who knows her way with a scarf or can do a million and one tricks with a strand of pearls.”

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2 thoughts on “Weird Words of Wisdom: A Million and One Tricks With a Strand of Pearls Edition

  1. I’ve never quite gotten the hang of this: “To walk gracefully one must move the leg in one piece.”

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