Health and Beauty: Advice from the 1930’s

Some of us girls embrace the health and beauty industry, others of us couldn’t care less. Me – I’m somewhere inbetween; I’m a sucker for painting my nails, but I like to treat my eye-brows much like a mother of teenage children, I sigh and disapprove, but give them freedom and let them make their own mistakes. My Mum bought me Every Woman’s Book of Health and Beauty mainly for a giggle, but as well as that, I actually found myself enjoying it far more than your average woman’s magazine or beauty blog today.

health and beuaty


 “Under no circumstances do you want your bust to become bigger.”

Granted, I wouldn’t take all of its advice on board, times have moved on since olive oil was recommended to prevent sunburn. I also find it hard to believe any woman in any era could go to the lengths this book suggests; their is a whole chapter entitled ‘keeping the neck beautiful’, including massage and exercise techniques. I for one have NEVER considered looking after my neck, but at least I now know where to go should I ever find the need.

“It is not, as a rule, good to sleep flat on the back, for with many girls, for some rather obscure reason, it seems to be the cause of bad dreams.”

health and beauty 2

“The fashion for slimming is no longer a craze but has settled down into a desire for a figure with well-defined lines and shapeliness.”

When it came to advice about weight, this book couldn’t be more different from most of the articles we read today. The chapter on weight loss was called ‘slimming with safety’, with not a juice detox or crash diet in sight, it aims to get you to an average weight and no less. This was then followed by a chapter about putting on weight, for those girls ‘whose looks and health would be vastly improved if only they could put on a little more flesh’. I don’t know about you but I envy those women who lived in a time when the aim wasn’t just to be as thin as possible, when having a healthy figure with ‘shapeliness’ was considered far more attractive.

health nd beuty 3

“Woe betide the girl who habitually crosses the same leg when sitting, for she will soon have shortened muscles at one side resulting in a prominent hip.”

But perhaps the biggest breath of fresh air I received from this book was its focus on health. Be healthy, it says, and the beauty will follow. Today we are bombarded with miracle lotions and potions to try and make ourselves more beautiful, which, don’t get me wrong, I buy into as much as the next girl. In this book however, instead of recommending products, the advice is to change your health habits in order to maintain good looks. It talks about the right kinds of food to eat for shiny hair and a blemish free complexion, as well as the importance of sleep to your health and appearance. Plus if you need to lose weight, it’s because it’s unhealthy, rather than because it’s unattractive.

You won’t find me doing neck exercises any time soon, but I have taken more away from this little book than just a good giggle at how times have changed. Put being fit and healthy first, have a bath everyday, and remember never to keep crossing the same leg.


  1. August 3, 2014 / 5:40 pm

    this books looks great! i lvoe that it focus on health and not just on being skinny!
    thanks for sharing

    • Emily
      August 4, 2014 / 9:56 am

      Do it! That’s such a good idea 🙂 Some tips are funny and then some are actually helpful!

  2. August 4, 2014 / 9:47 am

    What an awesome book! It sounds so interesting and yes, for certain, more along the lines of my reading enjoyment that any fashion and beauty magazines.
    I cringed when reading, ‘olive oil was recommended to prevent sunburn’ – OUCH!

    Best wishes x

    • Emily
      August 4, 2014 / 9:58 am

      Haha yeah there were quite a few ‘DIY’ beauty ‘solutions’ because there just wasn’t the range of products we have today!

    • Emily
      August 5, 2014 / 11:17 am

      Aw thank you! I’ll head on over to have a look 😀

  3. August 4, 2014 / 8:47 pm

    I just love discovering treasures from other eras. The differences in illustrations and language can be so amusing. I blog about vintage-inspired lifestyle and fashion so I was pretty excited to see this. Thanks for sharing!

    • Emily
      August 5, 2014 / 11:19 am

      This book amused me no end 🙂 Really glad you liked the post, your blog sounds really interesting I’ll come and have a look now! 😀

  4. August 5, 2014 / 4:40 am

    I think a lot of these are funny! I need to get me some of these to read!

  5. August 5, 2014 / 1:26 pm

    This sounds so great, such a refreshing take on beauty and its from 80 years ago! I think we need to be taking some tips from women back then. Be healthy and happy and the beauty will come naturally. I hope in the future there is less focus on loosing weight or even gaining weight to look beautiful. The focus needs to be on being healthy and being happy.
    Great post 🙂

    Emma x
    Writing Essays With Wine

    • Emily
      August 6, 2014 / 11:17 am

      Yes definitely! When I go for runs etc I’m always trying to remind myself that the goal is to be healthy, not lose weight. Obviously the two can be the same thing, but I really want to focus on being fit and healthy rather than just body image. Really glad you liked the post!

  6. August 5, 2014 / 1:30 pm

    What a fab find and a great post! I always sit with my right leg crossed over my left so now I am worried I might have a prominent hip 😉 Seriously though you’re right, it is so important and this book is probably (definitely) more on message than your average tabloid/glossy mag!


    • Emily
      August 6, 2014 / 11:19 am

      Glad you liked the post! And yes I think the message to be healthy above everything else is such a good one and one that you rarely hear in magazines etc today. I think everyone has a leg they cross over surely? In the same way everyone folds their arms only one way!

  7. Jessica
    August 8, 2014 / 4:46 am

    The book looks so fab! I would totally love it as a gift to myself! It’s not quite the same but I recently purchased a copy of a biology book published in the early 1900’s. It’s adorable–and was once very well loved. Now it serves as a bit of light bathroom reading.

    Vivacious Events @

    • Emily
      August 8, 2014 / 10:39 am

      Aw yeah I love the thought that really old books have been enjoyed so much before they got into our hands 🙂 and seeing how knowledge and advice has changed over time, instead of being irrelevant it just becomes really interesting!

  8. August 12, 2014 / 10:53 am

    I really loved this post. I agree with you completely, I wish we could go back to a time when it was fashionable to look healthy and happy rather than thin to the point of emaciated! x
    Would love if you’d take a little look at my blog, follow on bloglovin if you like it and I’ll follow back.
    The perks of being a hipster

    • Emily
      August 12, 2014 / 3:28 pm

      Glad you liked the post! It’s odd to think of a certain weight being ‘in fashion’ but it’s true! Sure I’ll head on over to have a read 🙂 x

Let me know what you think!