Vera Francis As The “Indian Girl” In The Prodigal

For those of you who love Vera Francis, here’s another vintage photograph of the nearly forgotten & neglected African-American actress.

From the 1950s, this photo features Francis in what is called “a Southeast Asian view” of costuming.

vera francis vintage MDM publicity film photo

Publicity from MGM’s 1955 film The Prodigal, in which Vera played an “Indian Girl.”

Measures 10″ x 8,” on a single weight glossy paper stock.

For sale here.

“Topknot Troubles”

If you collect vintage magazines and ephemera like I do, you know there’s nothing new under the sun. The celebrity names & faces change, there’s “modern” graphics and trends too. But the push on beauty and grooming products remains true. This little bit comes from Beauty On A Budget, a promotional piece for hair & beauty products (copyright 1957 The Gillette Co.). The illustrations may be period, and the kitschy-cute names too, but the tips on treating your hair problems are rather straight out of any beauty column today. Meet Harriet Haystack, Olivia Oilwell, Selma Snowfall, Cora Cornsilk, Barb Wire, and Delia Droop — “six sisters with vexing hair problems.”

beauty on a budget hair problems

Despite their hair problems, most if not all of the sisters must have gotten married as they all have different last names! Perhaps that’s because they were lucky smart enough to watch Gillette’s helpful film, a Toni Company’s color movie entitled Heads Up For Beauty. It included pointers from “famous beauty consultant” Carol Douglas — and those pointers helped Ann Watson “change from an unattractive girl into a radiant bride by improving her personal grooming.” One prays to the YouTube gods for someone to find and put this movie up online.

1957 beauty

Ye Olde Male Facial Hair

Because I’m not a sexist, I thought I’d do a companion piece of sorts to this post and cover a bit of history regarding male hair — just a little link round-up of male facial hair history.

Did you know that there was once a beard tax for men? Yup, at least in 1705 there was. Per Russia’s Peter The Great, men either had to shave or pay a tax. They even got a little token to prove they had a legal, and taxed, beard.

There’s a whole book out now on the history of gay beards — the facial kind, not the companion kind (NWS).

Tour a retro pop culture line-up of mustached celebs.

It’s Movember, and the hubby and I love mustaches (or moustaches, if you prefer) and Nick Offerman; but are mustaches campy or sexist?

In fact, some are rethinking this month of Movember that is intended to raise awareness for men’s health issues, saying it can quickly turn into an unfair fetishized game of “hot or not”.

nick-offerman-conan

Bad Hair Is No Joke (Or, Hairy Situations In Racism & Misogyny)

I have not been doing a lot of “link round-up” posts since I’ve been curating at Scoop.it, but sometimes I will still find a thing or two which will spawn so many quick thoughts that it seems best to fire all the rounds in one quick-draw post. That’s certainly the case today as one vintage image and one blog post have me quickly shooting from the hip.

Via this post at Doc Blue’s Bullshit Emporium, I found this vintage ad for Jeris Hair Tonic at Retro Adverto. Along with the horrid ad copy, there’s the racist and gender obscene headline:

“I Knew,” Said The Sioux, “That Squaws Would Go For His Scalp”

jeris-hair-tonic-racist-vintage-ad-1955

I don’t know that I actually have to beat all the dead horses in this vintage ad, do I? With so much horribleness going on, it’s hard to imagine that Jeris would survive; but the company — and it’s hair tonic — is still around today. I do hope they die a little on the inside whenever this ad is resurrected.

While we are on the subject of hair…

Lip Mag has a piece on hair: crowning glory: hair, sex and gender. My profound dislike for the absence of capitals in headlines aside, the post is rather provocative and worthy of a good read. However, it is a bit incomplete. I don’t think it is proper to discuss or rant about such things as “long and blonde” being the ideal femininity standards for women’s hair without pointing out that there are some biological reasons for this.

Often, “beauty” is really just about genetics, healthy children, and the survival of the species. Long hair is a sign of health, and health is genetically preferred. Lighter hair, especially blonde hair, is often an indicator of youth and therefore fertility. The fair skin which typically, naturally, accompanies the blonde hair also makes it easier to see signs of disease, infestation, infection, and the like. Such blemishes are signs of genetic weakness, aging, or other potential problems with the viability of offspring. This is all hardwired into humans biologically. It’s primal evolution. This is why fake blondes enjoy the same attention as natural blondes; for even when everyone knows they’re seeing a bleach-bottle-blonde, the sight triggers an unconscious response of, “Yes, this is preferred genetic material.” This biological drive is what is sets many “beauty standards”. And since blondes, especially the light-white-skinned and blue-eyed variety, are fewer in numbers, their rarity is akin to “coveted and collectible”. [After decades of hair styles, lengths, and colors I know (NWS) that blondes do have more fun — if by “fun” you mean “attention.” Not all of it positive, either; especially when the attention is from other women (NWS). Women hating or deriding blondes, real or fake, is like any other body shaming issue and should be stopped.]

While genetics and evolution are typically not conscious thoughts in the process of calling someone “beautiful” or “attractive”, there are many recorded acts of using beauty standards as markers for desirability in gender and race. From the Bible and organized eugenics programs to the less organized attacks of societal judgements (NWS), history shows that women have been — and continue to be — judged, humiliated, marked, and controlled by their hair.

This brings be back to the aforementioned issue of “scalping” and how I often feel that the current trend in removing the pubic hair of women is not unlike the “pussy scalping jokes” of the past (NWS). It’s not only racist, but all about controlling women and their bodies.

Female Olympic Athletes Still Have “Beauty” To Hurdle

Today, in honor of the Olympics, in honor of the strong, skilled, and powerful US female gymnastic team, Proctor & Gamble’s official beauty Twitter account tweeted:

What’s your favorite part of the “gymnast look”? The slicked-back bun, beautiful bold lips or shimmering skin? #PGOlympics #PGBeauty

In return I tweeted:

@PGBeauty Really? Beauty looks based on female gymnasts? Are you going to do this sort of thing to male athletes?

No one responded. Not P&G; not any of my tweoples.

I guess I should just be glad I wasn’t banned from Twitter for knocking a paying advertiser. But in actuality I’m peeved that no one else seems upset by this… There were 13 retweets, 11 favs, and one comment — not mine (mine is conspicuously absent).

So000 disappointing.

In Older Athletes Earning Gold For Endurance In The Olympics, Patricia Nell Warren writes:

Fortunately for Olympic athletes, they don’t have to rely on their looks to get to the podium, or even get to the Games. However gorgeous their displayed bodies might grow because of intensive conditioning — if they are swimmers or gymnasts or runners — it’s what they can DO with those bodies that counts.

Then there are those, like the fencers and archers and equestrians, who may or may not have a pretty face or gorgeous bods, but who deliver the goods while buttoned up to the chin in traditional gear, even gloves and helmets or top hats, with only their faces visible.

While Warren’s article was about what the LGBT community might learn from events such as the Olympics, it’s clear that “we heteros” have a long way to go ourselves. Some of us are forgetting to honor and admire the dedication, skill, and prowess of our female athletes when there’s beauty standards and products to sell.

Ain’t that a kick in the groin.

Beauty After The Atomic Bomb?

Advertising based on fears — especially the female fears of beauty, “catching” and “keeping” a man — are nothing new. This vintage print ad for Dorothy Gray captures those horrors.

However, this vintage TV commercial for a pre-cold war cold cream preys on more than beauty fears. Circa the 1950s, this commercial for Dorothy Gray Cosmetics boasts how the cleanser removes two and a 1/2 times the radiation of other cleansers. No word on how much radiation is left behind or even it it’s enough to kill you…

Pro-Nun-ciation

In Look for the Detail!, Beryl Kenyon de Pascual tells the story of this pair of vintage bookmarks:

The fourth example is also from the late nineteenth century. The cosmetic firm of Cherry Blossom—not to be confused with the company that makes shoe polish—produced a bookmark featuring a nun on one side and a biennial calendar on the reverse. The earliest examples were printed in black and white and include the phrase ‘none nicer’, as in the reproduction of my 1889/1890 bookmark. I found the relevance of the nun puzzling in the context until I acquired a chromolithographic issue from 1897-1898. The latter is more decorative and does not have the die-cut page clip found in the black and white series. The nun was nevertheless retained as the central feature. The phrase ‘none nicer’, however, was amended to ‘nun nicer’. The light dawned on me. In some regions ‘none’ is pronounced the same way as ‘nun’. Since I pronounce the two words differently the play on words had passed me by. Possibly other people were puzzled at that time and this may account for the change in the spelling of the phrase to a form that highlights the pun and explains the apparent incongruity of the nun.

I had to read this twice in order to comprehend that there’s another way to pronounce “none” — a way that doesn’t sound like “nun.”  Beryl Kenyon de Pascual was born in England — and she worked as an international linguist, so I’m terribly surprised. But even more curious to hear how she and others pronounce “none.” Please do share!

Smells Like Mid-Life Spirit

Whether or not you want to smell like Madonna, you might want to catch her wearing lingerie (what else?) in the online ad (video below) for her new fragrance, Truth Or Dare.

I guess we should thank our lucky stars that Mad’s not completely nude as this online campaign was looked after by French art director Fabien Baron, the very same “director” of her 1992 coffee table book Sex. (The book is now highly collectible; yet deals can be found on eBay.)

The fragrance, I-kid-you-not, goes on sale in Macy’s stores April Fool’s Day (April 1, 2012). But it’s available online now for those with US mailing addresses.

The music for the perfume ad is a remix of Madonna’s latest single, Girl Gone Wild, which is the second single off MDNA. Girl Gone Wild has already enjoyed some notoriety, nearly costing the material girl in court (NWS).

Will Bruce Willis Replace David Hasselhoff? It Makes Scents…

I love sandalwood. And I love Bruce Willis. So how it is I missed that Bruce launched his own fragrance in 2010?!

Bruce Willis is one of the most successful and popular actors in the world. He is a man of many sides – versatile and authentic. Together with LR, the Hollywood star has now developed his first own perfume. In doing so, a fragrance has been created that merges his personality, expressiveness and character.

The perfume of Bruce Willis – a breath of immortality

Smart Guys live forever – just like Bruce Willis.
Straight down the line, masculine and unconventional.
The fragrance of action heroes: strong sandalwood and spicy
pepper mixed together with earthy vetiver and revitalising
grapefruit. Bruce Willis’ first fragrance – now a legend.

Fragrance: woody – green – elegant

Bruce Willis’ fragrance is available as:

Eau de Parfum
Perfumed Deo Spray
Perfumed Hair & Body Shampoo
Aftershave Balm

Ahh, perhaps because it’s a German fragrance thing… “The Bruce Willis fragrance ranks among the top 5 at the German perfume prize 2011 in the ‘Lifestyle Men’ category!” Which means Willis may replace The Hoff in the noses, if not hearts, of Germans. (Despite rumors, The Hoff has no scents — pun intended.)

I’m not too keen on the ad. It brings to mind more the smell of charbroiled meats than anything else — and that’s not the hunger I have or ought to have when Willis is around…

But multiple angles of that sardonic Willis smirk are much appreciated — as is the Bruno vibe.

How did I finally find out about this? Willis has just launched Lovingly, a fragrance for women, “Inspired by my lovely wife Emma.” (I can only imagine how this all makes Demi feel…)

It is a very personal story of a world star who was inspired by his wife Emma Heming-Willis to bestow a fragrance. As a sign of his love Lovingly was developed. A fragrance so full of passion just like this unique declaration of love. With a bouquet of white blossoms and a hint of fresh citrus fruits this scent encases a lustful aura of charm and love. Sandalwood and musk lend a warm and romantic feel. This is true love!

Fragrance: flowery – green – elegant

Lovingly by Bruce Willis is available as:

Eau de Parfums
Perfumed Shower Gel
Perfumed Body Lotion
Perfumed Deo Spray

According to this news story, the Bruce Willis scents are only available from LR, which is some sort of European version of Avon, Mary Kay, etc. independent direct sales rep at home company. Not sure if they allow US sales reps or partners, but the Bruce Willis fragrances can be found on eBay from US sellers.

Sockingly Awesome, Wretched Vintage Beauty Quackery Device: The Relax-A-Cizor

Any of these old beauty gadgets or quack medical items draws my interest — but when an electrical item demands you make the pads which attach to wires wet, well, I’m in love!

I’d love to own this not-so-little gem, but it’s beyond my budget. *pout* Here’s an awesome description from the seller:

The Relax-A-Cizor is an Electrical Muscle Stimulator. They date from the late 1940’s to the early 1970’s, and sold for $200- $400.
It claims to reduce girth by giving electric shocks to the muscles. Wet pads are strapped or placed on the body, attached by cords to a power source.
Pads can be placed on the stomach, thighs, arms, etc., even the face. Then you just lie there and electric shock yourself into a fabulous figure, yay!
Sounds scary, huh?

In 1971 the FDA declared the Relax-A Cizor to be dangerous, causing or aggravating medical conditions.

This is after selling thousands of units for decades!

The FDA ordered the destruction of units, or for them to be made inoperable. They also banned the resale of already purchased units. So, given all that information, this auction is for the purpose of Collecting Medical Quackery Items only. This Relax-A-Cizor is not being sold as an excercise or fitness machine.

This auction contains:
the original hard case
electrical console with dials, toggle, and inputs
The original instructions
6 disks with pads
face pads and strap
chest pads and vest
extra straps
chin pad
cords

The instructions have gorgeous drawings of statue like women, some naked, I love the art, fabulous! There are photographs of pad placement in these instructions, including some nudity.

The funniest thing about the instructions (in my opinion), is the lack of warnings. In fact, the only warning is to NOT store wet pads in the box. The only other warnings are to make sure to lie down, and to get the pads thoroughly wet, nothing about being shocked!

This is a true medical oddity.

This Relax-A-Cizor is in excellent condition. The pads and straps have some discoloration from use, age, and storage. I’m not sure if this unit is complete, there is no item list. The paper instructions are in excellent condition, there is a hand written note taped to the inside. The case is in excellent condition.
I do not know if the unit works or not. There is some broken and burnt looking ends on the wires.

I soooo NEED this!

Images and description via Strange Vintage.

Busted! As Good As “Our Bodies, Ourselves”

Bra Coach & Author Ali Cudby

Continuing my talk with Ali Cudby, author of Busted! The FabFoundations Guide To Bras That Fit, Flatter and Feel Fantastic. (Enter to win a signed copy of the book here!)

As a researcher *, I disagree that corsets were as restrictive as the roles women had in society. Because women controlled how tight they laced, could remove stays, etc., there was far more control by the individual over her corset than her culture. Culture has been far more damaging, suffocating, than any corset.

There were actually significant health issues directly tied to corsetry, as well, particularly when the fashions dictated the smallest possible waist. Women did permanent damage to their lungs and even rearranged their internal organs to accommodate corsets! Plus, it was (in my oh-so humble opinion) a lovely turn of phrase…and I love a good turn of phrase. :)

In that sense, women today who are not wearing a properly fitting comfortable bra are doing far worse things to themselves and their bodies than corsets, really. We are imprisoned by the places and times we live in, yes, but our ignorance of our bodies, our bras, is some sort of self-inflicted madness at this point…

Agreed, especially as society is less rigid today and women have much more opportunity to make decisions for themselves about how to dress, especially underneath their clothes.

To that extent, I see your book as a companion piece to the iconic Our Bodies, Ourselves. How can we be the action figures we need to be in our lives without knowing this fundamental functional part of our lives? That question may be rhetorical… (Feel free to comment though!)

Busted By Ali Cudby

Naturally, I love the idea of being a companion piece to the seminal Our Bodies, Ourselves! When it comes to bras, specifically, the thing I love is how empowered women feel when they figure out how fit works on their bodies. It’s fantastic to help a woman feel better in her skin and move past the negative body image messages perpetrated by the media.

I’m glad you mentioned body image messages in the media… Fundamentally, we women think we know our breasts. But we really don’t. I think we more about how our breasts are “supposed” to appear, clothed or not, and we certainly have feelings about that… But we really don’t know our own breasts, do we? How does this compound the matter of fit?

I don’t think I’ve said that women don’t know their own breasts, but women certainly get mixed messages about the role of breasts in society.

No, you didn’t say that bit about women not knowing our own breasts; I did. *wink* It seems we don’t know as much as we should, or we wouldn’t suffer with bras that don’t fit!

If you’ve never been taught how a bra should fit, and you may not even be aware of brands that are designed for your specific body type, it’s like trying to hit a moving target with a blindfold on!

In Chapter Two, in Once Upon A Time, When Fit Was A Fairy Tale, you discuss the fairy tale of fit:

Bra fitting can be confusing because there are so many pieces to literally fit together, and it’s not something most American women are taught — not at home, in school, or anywhere else. There’s no real mechanism for that education. It’s not taught in high school health classes. Many mothers overlook the chance to help their daughters get fit correctly, perhaps because they never experienced the benefits of the right fit themselves.

So poor bra fit is literally passed down through the generations!

Historically, speaking, what’s to blame for this? How much of women’s ignorance to the issues of bra fit are our fault? How much do we, must we, hold others accountable for? How do we take back our breasts, our health, our lives? Is there anything we can do at the consumer level?

I think economics and the bottom-line thinking that has been so pervasive in America is the culprit. Customer service has left the building in a lot of areas of the department store (except the men’s suit department…hmmm).

The good news is that I see a swing of the pendulum in the opposite direction. There are an increasing number of fit-based boutiques out there. Right now, most of them cater to the high end of the market, but it could be a beginning of a movement. I’d like to think so, at least! The product is there, the message is getting out…so I’m optimistic about the direction this industry is going.

We’ve all heard (and quite possibly ignored) the percentages of women who are not wearing a properly fitting bra; what does this percentage mean in terms of number of women?

The numbers are staggering. Between 80-100 million American women spend several billion dollars each year on bras that don’t fit and cause them physical and emotional harm!

And that’s just women over the age of 18 — the youngest group of women are actually most likely to wear bras that don’t fit.

Warning! The Wrong Bra Can Be Hazardous To Your Health

I know you’re not a doctor; and neither am I, but I’d guess this phenomenon of poor fitting bras and the increase of medications for depression, anxiety, aches and pains, lethargy, et al. is likely related. My readers might think I exaggerate — do you have any comments on the links between poor fitting bras and the things that ail us?

I know that women who have gotten fitted report that they no longer have daily headaches, shoulder aches and back pain. They stand taller and feel better — both physically and emotionally. I know that was true for me, and my experience is what led to me writing this book.

To say that proper bra fit can be life-changing may sound overblown to some, but I’ve seen it happen way too many times to question the phenomenon!

The reason I find your work, your book, so amazing is that women spend how many hours a day in their bras? I mean, even if we take them off the second we can, it’s a lot of hours to be miserable! Like that seminal feminist work, Busted! is based on the principal that we can be instruments of change — for ourselves, personally, and for society itself. In order to do that, we need to be educated. Did you have any idea when you began your work as a bra coach that you’d be writing such a book? Did the connections between bras and health, society, etc. surprise you?

First off, thanks! I really appreciate it. My work has evolved very organically. It started with my own moment of realization, when I found pretty bras that fit and were comfortable. I started talking to my friends about my discoveries and began helping them. Then friends started bringing friends, and the seeds of my fit methodology began to gel, and I started talking to industry experts and blogging about my experiences. The more I learned, the more I realized how pervasive this issue is, both from a comfort standpoint and also that connection to self-image so many women face.

Bra coaching goes way beyond bras — it goes to the core of how we carry ourselves as women. I didn’t expect that, and every time I hear back from someone who has benefitted from my fit methodology, it’s incredibly fulfilling. Helping women feel better about themselves is rewarding on so many levels.

Is this an American problem; are things better in the UK or elsewhere?

Culturally, women from the European countries seem to value buying fewer items of better quality more than in the US. And in the UK there is a wider array of product available in more places, it’s just easier to find stores that carry a variety of sizes. But availability of product doesn’t necessarily translate into excellence of fit. Fit is a challenge worldwide, simply because there are so few standards for sizing within the industry.

I would love to see American women placing more value on finding a quality garment that fits, versus going for the least expensive, or only buying on promotion.

Since you work with bra designers and other in the manufacturing industry I have to ask, how much of the problems regarding limited bra sizes begin there? Or is it the retailers who are the biggest problem?

I think there’s a ton of great product out there in a huge range of sizes – like I’ve said, 28AAA through 56N. The challenge is finding what works for you.

There are real issues for retailers when it comes to stocking that wide range of products, the amount of inventory required is mind-boggling. So (as with most things in life) it’s more complicated than it seems and I honestly believe that most manufacturers and retailers want their customers to be thrilled with their purchases.

Rather than focus on the inherent problems, I see a great opportunity for women — own the solution by understanding fit on your own body and finding the products that work for you, either in local stores or online. It’s very empowering!

Now go forth, ladies, empower yourselves with Busted!

Further reading: Another interview with Ali Cudby at A Slip Of A Girl.

* In fairness to Ali, and for clarification for you readers, I should note the following. Ali and I had a bit more of a discussion about corsets and history. She is operating off the more generally accepted wisdom about corsets, yet when I proffered her my research (What If Everything You Knew About The Corset Was Wrong?, Corsets Are Too Sexy?, Corsets Bound To Stay Suffrage), she not only read the posts but called them “fascinating!” We happily agreed to the following: Corsets, while restrictive, may not have been AS restrictive as women’s roles in society. That is probably more than a humble research obsessed feminist historical blogger can really ask for.

No More Crying In The Bra Fitting Room!

Few things excite me this much. Few contemporary things, that is. But I’m all giddy about a book that’s just been released: Busted! The FabFoundations Guide To Bras That Fit, Flatter and Feel Fantastic by Ali Cudby.

Ali Cudby is American’s #1 Bra Coach, the founder of Fab Foundations™ — and one hell of a great woman with a mission I adore. I was introduced to her by my friend and lingerie blogger, A Slip Of A Girl — who is, by the way, currently running a contest where you can win one of five copies of the book signed by the author. Go ahead; go enter the contest now. I’ll wait.

When Slip told me there was a book which could actually assist me in finding a bra — or even several bras! — which would fit while looking good and feeling super, I was skeptical. It seemed like the cosmetic ad promises: hope in a jar; hope between the covers. But quickly I found that Cudby’s book was more than hope and promises — it was a plan that works!

It was then that I became smitten with Ali Cudby, starting a dialog which was so long and insightful, that I’m breaking up the interview into two parts.  We begin with the personal…

Ali, your story, like mine, begins with the problems of big busted women — but that’s not the only women who have difficulty. Were you surprised — horrified? — that smaller-busted women also suffered from the insanity?

In the very beginning, I started with the idea of covering only full-busted women in the book – it never occurred to me that petite women had similar issues. I was shocked when I started hearing the stories from smaller-busted women. We all deserve to feel beautiful, and when you’re told to shop in the children’s department, or told you don’t even need a bra, it makes petite women feel like they don’t even count among the ranks of women. That’s a huge barrier to feeling feminine, so it makes sense that this book is for everybody…and every body!

There are 16 questions in the Personal Assessment at the end of Chapter One — I’m too embarrassed to admit how many of them I had the positive-sounding, but negative-in-reality, response of “Yes.” (In fact, I found myself starting with an emotional “Yes! She gets me — this must be common!” but after so many, my ego deflated…) How many of the 16 problem symptoms do you think the average woman has?

Great question! The intent of the Personal Assessment is certainly not to make your ego deflate — sorry! — but hopefully to help you realize that all of these issues will be addressed in the book. They are common!

I would say that the majority of women I fit (if they’re being honest) would be answering “yes” to at least 10 of the 16 questions, and oftentimes more like 13-14. The idea of the Personal Assessment in the beginning is to make it clear that there’s an issue (guess I did that!) and have the book guide you through turning all of those issues around by the final FabFit Assessment at the end of the book.

Obviously, the best way for a woman to get a bra that really fits, is to go into a store and try them on. But what about the times where literally, you cannot find a store with bras larger than 38DD — and those are, in fact, too small? (Yes, this is personal experience! Every clerk I asked about the possibility of bras in larger sizes, of hidden stock consisting of the less-flattering-on-display bra sizes, was shocked — as if I belonged in a circus!)

Are we really forced to order a bunch of guessed sizes in several bra styles and brands, have them shipped to us? I mean even if these places have easy return/exchange policies, this wreaks havoc with a lady’s finances! How do we at least narrow down such a big search so that we have less up front (so to speak!) investment in bras?

Hearing your story makes my blood boil! Too many women are made to feel like THEY are the problem and it’s absolutely NOT TRUE! The good news is that there are great (and gorgeous) bras out there, in a variety of price points and in sizes that range from 28AAA all the way to 56N!

In the book, I go through specific steps to help make Internet shopping work for you. That should cut down on both the confusion and the outlay of cash.

I also have a secret website only for people who buy the book, and not only is there great information on the site, but there are exclusive coupons as well. And I’m in conversation for contests and other goodies for the page. Heck, the book practically pays for itself! :)

In your book, you talk about the prices of bras. While you are clear to say that you don’t have to buy the most expensive bras, there is some truth in getting what you pay for as well… What’s a respectable, reasonable, price to pay for a decent bra? What’s the average lifespan of any bra? A properly fitting bra?

I think there’s a balancing act when it comes to price. Some of the most expensive bras out there are pieces of art, but not designed with fit in mind. Then there are very expensive bras that are absolutely amazing for fit, and are made from the finest materials, have incredible hand-stitched embroidery, lace, etc. You absolutely get what you pay for! But do you need to spend that kind of coin to get a bra that will fit properly? No, you don’t.

You are asking a bra to do a job, and for some of us, it’s a big job. You want a quality bra that will last without stretching out or falling apart.

Unfortunately, you can’t depend on price as a good indicator of quality, and that’s why I break down the quality indicators of a bra in the book — from construction to embellishments — to help you get the most bang for your buck.

How you take care of your bras will also have a HUGE impact on how long they last. There are a lot of numbers thrown around the industry for the lifespan of a bra, but I say it should last around 6 months of wearings, or until it’s no longer doing the job of supporting your bust.

[Breaking down the price of “expensive” to the ridiculous… Ladies, if you buy a $70 bra, that’s like $11 a month. If you even wear that bra 10 times, that’s just over a dollar a day.  Remember those old “less than the cost of a cup of coffee” commercials, designed to make you weak with the need to help a stranger? Why aren’t you moved to help yourself first? Tsk Tsk Tsk Charity begins at home! In this economy, can you afford to waste money on disposable cheap bras each month?]


Aside from the obvious changes in our bodies, such as weight changes, pregnancy, etc., how often should a woman go through the bra assessment? What are the average number of times a woman’s body changes enough to warrant a bra check?

You should reassess your fit every six months, plus any time your body undergoes a weight fluctuation of 5 or more pounds. Let’s say you get this book when you’re 20. If you use the information you learn to buy bras, you’re looking at 50+ years of bra purchasing. That’s around 100 times that you need to reassess your fit. And you need more than one bra, so figure you have at least 3-5 bras at any one time (the barest of minimums, including sports bras.) That’s a lot of bras over a lifetime! I think every woman deserves to look and feel amazing, and shouldn’t waste money on bras that don’t work for her body. (How many ill-fitting bras are collecting dust in your lingerie drawer?)

You know the old adage that you give someone fish and they eat for a day, or you teach someone to fish and they eat for a lifetime? Well, this book is all about teaching women to fish, so to speak. :) That’s why I call myself a bra coach – because I want all women to learn how to understand fit for their unique bodies, for the rest of their lives.

[That means, ladies, that Busted! is a book that pays for itself — and quickly. That’s even before you get to the secret goodies stashed on Ali’s site. Get this book before you even get the aforementioned quality bra and that bra will fit!]

This interview is “To Be Continued” — meanwhile, get yourself a copy of the book. Order it; enter to win it. Then come back tomorrow for the rest!

Make Your Children Feel Pretty By Making Fun Of Presidents (Or I’m Giving Away Atomic Religous Beauty?)

Perhaps today’s right-win conservative evangelists are only following the advice of Dorothy C. Haskin in God In My Kitchen: Fifty-Two Thoughts For Homemakers (copyright 1958, Warner Press, Anderson, Indiana)…

In chapter three, Beauty, we find the following:

Sheer physical good looks do not necessarily go together with excelling character or outstanding achievement. Our most handsome presidents were perhaps Warren G. Harding, James Buchanan, Franklin Pierce, and Chester A. Arthur. None of these are rated by historians as among our top national leaders. The presidents most praised by historians were not handsome men. George Washington was pock-marked. Abraham Lincoln’s rugged features are well-known and Theodore Roosevelt was bristling in appearance. Parent will do well to mention these things, because many children worry about their looks.

So I guess, by the laws of logic one should be voting for “ugly” candidate?

But that depends upon your definition of beauty; thankfully, Haskin helps with that.

Beauty is something which every girl can have. A young girl was praised for her beauty. Privately her father told her, “People are not praising your beauty, but your youth. You can take no credit at all for beauty at sixteen. But if you are beautiful at sixty, you can be proud of it, for it will be your character which has made you beautiful.”

Way to connect with your daughter, dad. Yeah, there’s some truth in that, but talking about her future old crone status is sure to help her in high school — because you know every high school kid thinks they’ll be dead before they reach the old age of 30. Sixty? What the hell is that?!

But I’ve shown poor character and interrupted Haskin again.

True beauty shows when your face is in repose. The natural expression reflects character. It may be fretty, quarrelsome, or reveal a spirit at rest with God. Another time that true beauty may be seen is when you greet someone. If you are self-centered, your greeting is without feeling and does not light your face. But if you are genuinely friendly, your greeting of others will bring a radiance to your face.

A Quaker woman’s recipe for beauty was:

“Use for the lips, truth… for the voice, prayer… for the eyes, pity… for the hands, charity… for the figure, uprightness… and for the heart, love.”

Because everyone talks about how beautiful Quaker women were! Seriously, I’m not a religious person (shocker!), but most of that sounds pretty nice and pretty sane to me — get it, pretty nice? Pretty sane? lol

Anyway, because I’m not religious — and because I’ve had my fun’s worth of this book, I’m giving it away.

There are many ways to enter; options. But you need only do one, if that’s all the effort you wish to put into winning… And no, I don’t care if you want this vintage homemaker’s book for ugly or pretty reasons. Just enjoy it!

To Enter:

* Follow me on Twitter: @DPopTart. (Please leave your Twitter username in your comment so I can check.)

and/or

* Tweet the following:

I entered @DPopTart’s contest to win a FREE copy of God In My Kitchen http://bit.ly/n7fIhz

(Remember to come back here and leave a comment with your tweet for me to verify.)

You may tweet your entry once a day.

and/or

* Friend me on Face Book: Deanna Dahlsad. (When making the request, note that you are entering the contest.)

and/or

* Post about this contest at your blog or website — if you do this you must include in your post to this contest post or Kitsch Slapped in general.

(Please include the link to your blog post in the comments section so that I can find your post.)

and/or

* Post your entry as a comment — if you do this, please make sure I’ve got your email address, because if you’re the winner I’ll need your email address to contact you regarding your shipping information.

Here’s the giveaway fine print:

* Giveaway is open to US residents only
* Be sure that you leave your email so that I can contact you
* Contest ends October 10, 2011; entries must be made on or before midnight, central time, October 9, 2011. Winner will be contacted by October 11, 2011, and has 48 hours to respond; otherwise, I’ll draw another name.

Make Up For Breasts?

No offense to Mr. Vargas, but I think he misunderstood the task… This vintage ad was for “Twin Make Up,” not makeup for “the twins.”

The original artwork by Alberto Vargas goes up for sale at Heritage Auctions on September 30, 2011.

ALBERTO VARGAS (American, 1896-1982)
New Jergens Twin Make-Up, advertisement poster, 1943
Mixed media on board
18 x 14 in.
Signed upper left

Sexism In The Royal Canadian Air Force Fitness Plans?

Here’s a little gem: the Royal Canadian Air Force Exercise Plans for Physical Fitness booklet.

This edition is the forty-third printing of the revised U.S. edition of the official RCAF fitness plan, published in 1962. It’s two books in one, as it contains both XBX (Ten Basic Exercises), the twelve minute a day plan for women, and 5BX (Five Basic Exercises), the eleven minute a day plan for men, which were previously published separately. (Note, the “X” in XBX does not refer to the two x-chromosomes of women.)

The plans enable you, the common folk, to get fit just as the fancy airline folk do — by yourself, at home, in your spare time, at your own rate, without any equipment.

I can’t speak to the effectiveness of the fitness plan; however, the exercises, created by Canada’s “pioneer” of physical fitness, William A. R. Orban, look like the general movements, tasks, and poses I’ve found in so many publications over the years (none as bad as beating your fat against a wall). But I can and will speak to the quirky fact that the two fitness plans differ greatly in terms of how the exercises are depicted by gender.

The women’s exercises are shown with step-by-step photographs of women in leotards:

While the men’s are shown with cool, graphic, iconic, illustrations:

While it’s true that the men’s fitness plan predates the women’s by a couple of years, I still find the differences striking… Was one gender thought to be confused by less-than realistic images? Is the female form just more acceptable, if not titillating, when shown in photographs? Or was continuity broken because greyscale printing became cheaper or otherwise de rigueur?

Before you decide, let me just show you one more thing…

While the men get a great phallic graphic, we women are sans a powerful ovarian homage.

 

Why Long Nails Are Sexy

Fingernails have long been symbols beauty — specifically as indicators of wealth. The cleaner, the longer, the more well-manicured, the more they distance the wearer from manual work. Long nails, even if natural fingernails, are unnatural — and the really long “dragon lady” fingernails are sexy because they are so removed from the norm they become exotic.

We may no longer be digging roots out of the ground, grinding corn by hand, or banging laundry against rocks; but (most of us) still wash dishes, scrub floors and type on keyboards — all which wreak havoc with our nails and manicures. And so, whether we “do less work,” pay for our manicures, or just wear gloves to protect our hands, manicures, and pretty hands in general, remain “beautiful” because they and/or the high maintenance of them indicate wealth.

Image credits: Chen-Yu Nail Polish for Vogue, 1939; photographer Horst P. Horst. Via.

Have Hairdryer, Will Travel

This vintage travel photo is awesome on its own, but it’s also a culmination of many posts I’ve made today! (Hint: That means all but one of the the links are to my posts at other blogs. It will be like you traveling with me!)

Life magazine posted it at Tumblr, saying:

Hostel? Clean? Those two words in the same sentence? Wow, what a foreign concept for many of us— let’s take a trip back to When Hostels Were Clean (yes, once upon a time they were clean…)

We want to hear from you: tell us about your worst hostel experience.

I don’t think this is a true hostel; it looks like a motel. I would also accept the inaccurate use of hotel. But not a hostel. It’s not just my experience which says so; I look at a lot of (and post a lot) of vintage travel images. But in any case, note how mom has her portable hairdryer in hand. Americans probably wouldn’t bother to bring a hairdryer to a hostel… However, you would bring one before you bring a child.

Speaking of vintage hairdryers

Traveling with one is preferred over packing your vacuum. Even if it can clean and double as a hairdryer.

Anyway, I’m lovin’ following Life at Tumblr (this is me at Tumblr, in case you wanna follow me there); I also posted this about Life’s contest tomorrow.

Literary Debutante Ball Fashion Advice: Etiquette Advice We Can All Actually Use

“For attractive lips, speak words of kindness.  For lovely eyes, seek out the good in people.  For a slim figure, share your food with the hungry.  For beautiful hair, let a child run his/her fingers through it once a day.” – Audrey Hepburn. I would add: then take a shower, eat a hoagie and throw some lip-gloss on, because no one wants to be the starving, bleeding-lipped weirdo with kid junk in her hair.

From Marie-Helene Bertino’s Literary Debutante Ball Fashion Advice, where she also gives this wise nugget:

“Stop talking about your phone.” – One Clue to Becoming an Interesting Person, Marie-Helene Bertino

Amen.

And, for those not yet an interesting person, this would include iPads, laptops, book-readers, tablets and other tech gadgets. Wait to be asked — and even then, keep it short.

Image via Vicki @ Nostalgic Collections.

Lashes For The Feminist Movement

Picture the scene… It’s 1974 and those women’s libbers are everywhere. Before you know it, those damn women will have screwed up everything. Hell, we won’t even be able to tell the boys from the girls. Oh my gawd, what about the children?! How do you combat it? Big Fluttery Lashes.

The amazingly-trademarked Big Fluttery Lashes were copyrighted in 1974, by Imagineering Inc., Phoenix, Arizona (but made in Hong Kong).  The lashes sold for 39 cents and they were safe & non-toxic (unless you’re under the age of three).

And good news, boys; if you were caught with one on your upper lip (or simply caught with the package), you could simply say it was a mustache — the package even says so!

Image via Tiki Ranch.

British Ladies Cat Fight With American Women, 1832

Since I love old beauty tips and their cultural context, I was intrigued by A Slip of a Girl’s posts sharing clippings from the March 1831 issue of Atkinson’s Casket (aka The Casket).  In that same issue, found via Google Books, I found this great article on painting on glass — but I wanted more.

In another issue, from 1832, this incredible review of Frances Trollope‘s Domestic Manners of the Americans (1832):

Mrs. Trollope has treated America with the same liberality, and her success in depicting the character of our people, has been nearly as great as captain Hall’s. An unsuccessful speculation in Cincinnati, awakened, it appears, the indignation of Madame T. and she forthwith—with the assistance of the notorious Fanny Wright, with whom she travelled, and whose abominable doctrines she appears to have imbibed—resolved to glut her revenge by writing a book. No doubt she is now satisfied, for she has the pleasure of seeing it stated in print, sanctioned by her name, that the Americana are the most illnatured, ungenerous, wicked, illiterate and vulgar people on the face of the earth ; that their moral sentiment is less elevated than that of the savages, and that the half-horse and half-alligator population of the Mississippi Valley, are as uncouth and as barbarous as a nation of Ourangutangs.

Mrs. Trollope, however, certainly unwittingly, pays American ladies, a very high compliment. Having fixed upon the society of Almacks as the criterion by which to examine the character of our ladies, she finds that they are all utterly destitute of polish; of that easy, lady like deportment, by which English ladies are distinguished throughput the world, and entirely ignorant of those amiable accomplishments in maneuvering, &c. which give her own countrywomen so strong an influence over their husbands. Our ladies are too modest in their behaviour and dress, to meet the views of Mrs. T. ; in company they want loquacity ; they seldom visit theatres; they arc respectful to their husbands, and indefatigable in instructing their children ; they are but indifferent dancers, and speak Italian shockingly incorrect ; and finally they are not carried away with foolish and ridiculous fashions. All these are serious faults in the opinion of the immaculate Trollope, and she vents her spleen at them in no measured terms.

Trollope’s sentiments seem very much to echo those of this article from 1907 — so much so, that I double-checked that Trollope was indeed deceased in 1863. However, as this article, titled British Cockney Writers, shows, this apparently was quite the trend during this period.

Included in this issue of Atkinson’s Casket are some excerpts or “extracts” — of which I found the following quite amusing:

The ladies have strange ways of adding to their charms. They powder themselves immoderately, face, neck, and arms, with pulverised starch; the effect is indescribably disagreeable by daylight, and not very favorable at any time. They are also most unhappily partial to false hair,which they wear in surprising quantities; this is the more to be lamented, as they generally have very fine hair of their own. I suspect this fashion to arise from an indolent mode of making their toilette, and from accomplished ladies’ maids not being very abundant; it is less trouble to append a bunch of waving curls here, there and every where, than to keep their native tresses in perfect order.

Though the expense of the ladies’ dress greatly exceeds, in proportion to their generalstyle of living, that of the ladies of Europe, it is very far (excepting in Philadelphia) from being |n good taste. They do not consult the seasons in tne colors, or in the style of their costume; 1 have often shivered at seeing a young beauty picking her way through the snow with a pale rose-colored bonnet, set on the very top of her head: I knew one young lady whose pretty little ear was actually frost-bitten from being thus exposed.— They never wear muffs or boots, and appear extremely shocked at the sight of comfortaole walking shoes, and cotton stockings, even when they have to step to their sleighs over ice and snow.

They walk in the middle of winter with their poor little toes pinched into a miniature slipper, incapable of excluding as much moisture as might bedew a primrose. I must say in their excuse, however, that they have, almost universally, extremely pretty feet. They do not walk well, nor, in fact, do they ever appear to advantage when in movement. I know not why this should be, for they have abundance of French dancing masters among them, but somehow or other it is the fact. I fancied I could often trace a mixture of affectation and of shyness in their little mincing unsteady step, and the ever changing position of the hands. They do not dance well; perhaps 1 should rather say, they do not look well when dancing; lovely as their faces arc, they cannot, in a position that exhibits the whole person, atone for the want of tournun-. and for the universal defect in the formation of the bust, which is rarely full, or gracefully formed.

PS Apparently this had all been previously published in The Saturday Evening Post; the connections between and history of The Casket and The Saturday Evening Post are well documented here.

Breaking Free Is A Drag (Or, Drag Queens Part 1)

Glowing Doll Danielle says she was “totally gob smacked” watching Freddie Mercury’s “sexy mustachioed housewife” in Queen’s I Want To Break Free.

In her post, Danielle also wrote:

I love drag queens because they can dress like women but without all of the pressure to look pretty or be sexy. I know there are plenty of women who dress like drag queens but they are few and far between and they tend to be Pop stars.

Umm, I could be wrong here, but I’m pretty sure the sole point of being a drag queen is to look pretty and be the (supposed) feminine ideal of sexy.

I think part of Danielle’s confusion here — and there’s plenty to be confused about traversing those fine, slinky, and slippery lines between drag queens, female impersonators, transgendered folk, cross dressers, fetishists, etc. (note: no mention of gay folk here) — is mistaking Mercury’s artistic gender-bender performance for Mercury being a drag queen.

Freddie Mercury in drag is not Freddie Mercury, Drag Queen.

The simple & pure existence of a mustache sort of illustrates that point — and my point about a boundary pushing performance.

Danielle gets close to those distinctions when she writes the following (exactly as typed at her blog):

To me anyway, Drag culture is as much about attitude as it is about aesthetic. It seems to exude a sort of ‘Don’t give a fuck’ attitude which I think everyone could benefit from. Ultimately there is a humour born from sadness underlying the aesthetic. The theatricality used as a kind of armour against a world that is so un accepting of others.

If I could be a part of either world I just feel that I would be freer some how. I find myself, inpsite of a vast collection of clothes and accessories, dressing drably from day to day. I guess I fear judegement by small minded people and on a deeper level just want to dissapear sometimes (hard to do with electric coloured clothes, spiked accesories and gigantic hats).

The mythical non-mustached Drag Queen Mercury, like other Drag Queens, probably would have had a female name and completely distinct female persona to go with it. And none would have seen drag as an armor but as flamboyant exhibitionist expression — that people would still sling arrows at.

Mercury in drag wasn’t exactly like Travolta in Hairspray; Mercury’s dress was a theatrical application, use of imagery to make a point. Or at least a slightly different point.   And the whole point of Freddie Mercury et al and their obvious appearance as men in women’s clothing (along with other things in this video and aspects of Mercury’s life) was to expose absurdity, especially the norms of “normal,” to break free of everything — everything except that vacuum, that is. *wink*

You Could Have Hundreds Of These Cards & Still Not Be Playing With A Full Deck

I’m completely smitten with these 1916 M.J. Moriarty Playing Cards featuring the leading ladies and gents of the silent silver screen.

I found them when I found my buddy Cliff Aliperti (who deals in vintage movie collectibles, especially movie cards and other ephemera) in chat and asked him if he had a photo or scan of something featuring Florence LaBadie for a silent film article I was writing. When he sent me two options, I, the too easily smitten, replied, “Damn you, those cards are cool!”

“Which ones? The playing cards or the pink borders?” Cliff types back.

“Both, actually,” I reply. “I like the playing cards a lot — but I’m a girl and pink scrolls are sexy too.”

He sends me links to more — purely to torture me, I am sure.

And while I’m looking them over, he tells me more about these old playing cards. “But the fun is there’s different cards in some decks … I’ve seen over 100 different cards. Ruth Roland, on one of the Aces, there are actually 4 different poses for the single card. But some of the variations are totally different stars — like one deck shows Norma and Constance Talmadge together, another has them on 2 separate cards.”

At this point, all I could say was, “Dude, stop messing with my head! It’s not nice to do that to obsessives.”

Like Cliff, you know I am obsessive with stuff; so y’all know I was half begging him to stop, half in love with the idea of hunting down all the variations.

I mean Charlie Chaplin as the Joker? Awesome!

Plus these cards feature silent film stars I’ve never even heard of — oh, the glory of the hours of research!

You can get more details and see all the cards in the gallery at Cliff’s site; and you can buy cards from him in his store, Move Cards For Sale, and in his eBay listings.