Weird Words of Wisdom: “Take It on the Chin, Gal” Edition

“The more formal you are in your approach to the party, the better behaved your guests will probably be. Make them understand it’s a ‘party’ not a ‘gang-bang.’”

She-Manners, 1959 (1960 printing)
By Robert H. Loeb Jr.

K. Chin illustrated this book. The K. Chin best known for his 1970s artwork featuring cute animals? Probably. Like Loeb, Chin had an advertising background.

K. Chin illustrated this book. The K. Chin best known for his 1970s artwork featuring cute animals? Probably. Like Loeb, Chin had an advertising background.

About This Books and Its Author: A lot of people wrote advice books for teenage girls in the 1950s, and few of them had any special qualifications beyond magazine writing experience. Most of them, however, had lady parts. It took a certain amount of chutzpah for Robert H. Loeb Jr. to write a book aimed at girls (or, as he prefers to call them, gals.)

This dust-jacket blurb tells us as much about Loeb as I’ve been able to discover: “Bob’s a writer by profession, and an advertising man—no grey flannel suit, no Madison Avenue. And he used to be an editor for Esquire, when he also wrote Wolf in Chef’s Clothing, a hilarious cook book for men. Ah, then he turned his eyes upon the girls and said, ‘Say, they read, too, don’t they?’ That’s how he began. That’s how he dared.”

A writer and an advertising man? It’s as if Mad Men’s Ken Cosgrove wrote an advice book for teenage girls…which explains chapter titles like “The Wolf’s in the Trap—Wedding Time is Here” and “The Boss’ Lap is Not a Chair.”

Loeb is progressive on issues of racial and religious prejudice, devoting a whole chapter to the subject. The myths he sets out to debunk in that chapter are cringe-worthy reminders of how far society’s progressed: They include “The Negro in the United States has primitive morals,” “Negroes are not as clean as whites,” and “Jews have black curly hair and hooked noses. You can always tell a Jew.”

By 1950s standards, he’s even progressive on sex roles, admitting that they are social constructs and often unfair. In 1977, he would write a book called Breaking the Sex-Role Barrier. But his 1950s advice for dealing with male chauvinists doesn’t break any barriers: “Take in on the chin, gal. This is going to be with you always. We men have to stick together.”

Fun Fact: Loeb’s 1950 cookbook for men, Wolf in Chef’s Clothing, was reprinted in 2000. In this newspaper article, publisher Susan Schwartz describes the book and her decision to republish it—she sounds like a “gal” after my own heart.

Quotes from She-Manners

“Any man is wonderful if he is the man in your life.”

“Your best policy is always to accept the fact that (a boy) is a powerful giant, not matter what you may think. If you are able to beat him at tennis or golf or swimming, either don’t beat him or else beat him but tell him you know he’s not really trying or is just letting you win out of politeness. Let him maintain his powerful, caveman role.”

“To make (a boy) feel important, you have to forget your own desires for importance. Compliment him on his physical prowess, his mental acumen, his good looks, his virility. The worst mistake a girl can make is to make a man feel intellectually inferior or inadequate as a male. We men need  a lot of reassurance. So lay it on thick but subtly. Stoke his ego. Let him think he’s king much of the time. He will love you for it, and, you know, it will make you feel extremely feminine.”

“You know—men suffer from an odd sense of inferiority. They’re often terrified by smart women. This doesn’t mean you have to act the idiot role or the cute little ‘Oh, aren’t you smart!’ role. But it does mean that you can let him feel he is superior…The first evening you are together, don’t let him know you read Greek. Save that for next week. By that time he will like you so well that he won’t mind discovering you are an intellectual!”

“If you are a gal who uses frank, men’s locker room language—DON’T on this first date DON’T—EVER! Avoid shocking your date. Even if he uses such language and hears all the guys and dolls in the senior class using it, he wants his date to be better than the rest of the crowd.”

“(Many men will) grab you and kiss you on that first date, just to prove they can. This doesn’t mean they love you. It usually means they’re testing you. If a man can kiss you after a few minutes together, he has three reactions. One, he will think he’s irresistible. We men like to think that. Second, he will think you are an easy target. An easy target is not much to boast about. Third, he will wonder how many other men have had as easy a time as he. When he gets to that question, your market value drops.”

“The man has one set of standards for himself and another for you. He may consider himself a Don Juan for having succeeded in getting you to pet, but he will also decide that you’re too easy to get.”

On marriage: “Don’t be overanxious and feel that by the time you’re eighteen or twenty and have not been asked, you are on the shelf.”

k chin illustration 1Getting a guy to think about marriage: “Perhaps you can wangle an invitation for the two of you to dinner at the house of a happily married young couple? Or take him on a tour of home furnishing departments in the stores? Or on a lonely, romantic walk along the river? Or to an equally romantic formal dance? Maybe you can show him how well prepared you are for marriage—a good cook, a neat housekeeper, a gal who loves kiddies, a perfect hostess for a business or professional man?” Home furnishing departments? That’s really subtle.

At job interviews: “Don’t try to be overly glamorous, but don’t try to be the opposite extreme. You need not look like an old-fashioned eager beaver, all work and no-nonsense in the office…The male interviewer will probably be disinterested and think you’d not be much of an addition to the office décor.”

“If the (job) interviewer offers you a cigarette as a way of putting you at ease or as a gesture of friendship, then you may accept or not, as you wish.”

Fashion Tips (Yes, he even gives fashion tips)

“A word of warning—never overemphasize. A gal may have a terrific figure, but a homely face. So she overemphasizes her figure with tight sweaters and skirts, and walks with a hip-wiggle. All she gets are wolf whistles and leers. What she should have done was to make the best of her figure, since it is more attractive than her face, but not boast about her figure. And she should have realized that her face is not one half as ugly as she thinks.”

Suggested Wardrobe Essentials

2 long-sleeved pullover sweaters
2 long-sleeved cardigan sweaters
1 short-sleeved sweater or polo shirt or T-shirt
2 tailored shirts—1 solid color, 1 patterned
3 blouses—more feminine in styling
4 skirts—2 slim, 1 pleated, 1 full gathered
1 simple suit
1 jumper
2 date dresses—1 with discreetly covered top, preferably with small jacket; and 1 with low, round neck, décolleté style
2 simple dresses—to be dressed up with accessories for casual dates, street wear, or class
2 formals—1 long, 1 short
1 heavy all-purpose winter coat
1 dressier coat for church, dates, special functions
1 in-between coat for spring, summer, fall
1 bulky jacket or car coat
1 jacket to wear with skirts
2 pairs of slacks
2 pairs of Bermuda shorts

“Short short short shorts—no! In some towns and neighborhoods it’s against the law to wear short shorts in public.”

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3 thoughts on “Weird Words of Wisdom: “Take It on the Chin, Gal” Edition

  1. Girls read too? Get outta here!

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