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October 25, 2012

Book Look: Harper's Bazaar Beauty Book

Today's book is the Harper's Bazaar "Beauty Book" (c) 1959 by Hearst Publications.

I love the Illustrations by Norma Welliver throughout the book. They are so elegant and chic, I almost want to clip them out of the book and frame them!

Every chapter is all about beauty, with titles like "Dyeing for a Change?", "Perfume...The Most Beautiful Thing You Wear" and "Your Diet." There's even a chapter on plastic surgery, which was a surprise! Apparently women were getting nose jobs over 50 years ago, which was news to me. The chapter begins:

"By any standard this is a pretty face, an attractive woman [drawing]. But what if the nose were a horrid shape or an awkward size? How inconsequential the large eyes would seem then, how irrelevant the nicely curved lips. For, while an imperfection can be a delightful distraction that merely relieves the monotony of a perfect symmetry and dramatizes natural good looks, a malproprotioned feature is downright ugly; a defect no amount of make-up artistry can ever quite deny. It calls for more than camouflage. It calls for alteration. Frankly, it calls for surgery." 


While some of the views of this book are antiquated and frankly, a little sexist, there is a ton of great beauty advice that can be found in each chapter. The chapter on "Your Hands, Feet, and Legs" tells women how to remove dead skin and callouses, and another section about make-up tells women how to put on the "perfect face" -- even which color palette will complement your skin tone. Really, it's just interesting to read through each page and feel transported back in time -- you would never find a book written this way today. While some of the dialect is dated and the subject matter is indicative of the 1950s and 1960s, much of it is relatable still today. 

The book is pretty much summed up by what's written on the back cover:

"Dear Bazaar: Somehow the Christmas holidays just went rocketing by like a bright, noisy train. I have a sensation of being left over. I never knew before what it feels like to be limp and tense at the same time, but I know now. My eyes are tired. My hair looks frenzied with exhaustion. I am bone-, muscle-, and skin-tired. And although I hate to admit it, Bazaar, my feet hurt. Should I (a) Lie perfectly still in a darkened room from now on? (b) Arrange to be seen only by candlelight from now on? or (c) What?...
(This "anonymous" letter made me laugh -- I know I feel this way after the holidays. My vote is to lie perfectly still in a darkened room...from now on.)
...Harper's Bazaar printed this letter and some good advice in reply as an article. And then they wrote this book as the complete answer. You may not want a whole new you -- you may want just bits and pieces glossed, polished or changed. But whatever your problem, the answers are here. And the answers are by experts in the field -- experts who have combined up-to-the minute knowledge with a verve and a simplicity of approach that is the ultimate of sophistication. There is no conceivable beauty problem that is not treated -- from skin, to nails, to hair, to posture, to tension, to voice and mannerisms. But most of all the editors tell you how to surround yourself with an aura of beauty." 

Here are a few of my favorite pages [click to enlarge]:

While this book may be a little trivial at times, it's a true time capsule, and I love it for that one reason. With that, I'll leave you with a final bit of mid-century beauty advice from the Harper's Bazaar editors:

"Wherever you walk and whenever you sit, hold your head as thought a thread attached it to a star -- lifted well away from your shoulders until your neck is like a swan's. And lift your rib-cage up and away from your hipbones, so that the diaphragm seems long and lean as a section of python. Forbear at all times to slump, slouch, or loosely sauter -- to relax is neer to collapse. Out of doors, drink in the fresh air, and fill your lungs. And into every move you make -- the adjusting of a hat, the bending down to pull a weed -- put all you can of the freedom, grace, and authority that distinguish the gestures of a beautiful woman."

I've been unable to find this book for sale online, but you can find this one for sale right here

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