1950s Charm School: Stop Thinking, Talking, Weeping and Wailing About Your Weight

You can lose or gain weight if you make up your mind to follow a diet plan faithfully.  Thinking, talking, weeping and wailing about your weight is not going to change it.  A conscientious diet program is the only way to add or shed pounds.  Good eating habits are good beauty habits.  And what you eat affects not only your figure, but your skin and hair, as well. ~John Robert Powers, Secrets of Poise, Personality and Model Beauty, 1961.

Diet Delight Advertisement

Diet Delight Advertisement, February, 1958, Woman's Day magazine, courtesy of Liza P on Flickr.com

For last Wednesday’s charm school lesson, we got real with ourselves and did a head to toe evaluation of our physical and personality attributes.  This week, Mr. Powers gets tough with us and tells us that if we don’t like our figures, we need to commit to doing something about it rather than just moaning and complaining about it. 

He then goes on to tell us that we need to tone our bodies through exercise in addition to dieting:  “It is not enough for a fat woman to lose the excess poundage.  She must exercise so that the skin tissues will be firm and youthful.”  Mr. Powers  continues by reminding us that exercise will also help with our posture, graceful movements, and poise no matter the current size and shape of our body.

But, Mr. Powers is quick to point out, diet and exercise will not affect our bone structure.  We also need to make sure we create the illusion of perfect proportion by employing styling techniques.

Sometimes the truth has to hit us right between the eyes before we make a commitment to our health and changing our current lifestyle.  If it takes vanity to get us healthy again so that we can live a fabulous Technicolor life, I’m all for it!

Okay, I wouldn't recommend this diet.... This disturbing Tapeworm Diet advertisement is courtesy of M. Veen on Flickr.com

I’m not going to tell you which diet plan is right for you.  Our circumstances are all different.  There are a lot of sound, nutritious programs (most of them free) and it may take some tryouts with different plans to find one that works right for you.  I am currently focusing on portion size and calories with an emphasis on eating lots of “victory garden” types of food and reducing (not eliminating) my starch and sugar intake.  Is it a pain measuring and writing everything down?  Yep.  But the alternative is even more painful and leads to a diminished life.  What is the payoff for you?

Mr. Powers concludes this section by telling us:

Your body was intended to be beautiful, functional, and graceful.  If it is not now, it is up to you to make it become so.  Eliminate the negative aspects of your figure by working hard to bring it into the proper proportion through diet and exercise. 

Are you ready to stop thinking, talking, weeping, and wailing about your weight?

To your fabulous Technicolor health!

Dr. Julie-Ann

The following two tabs change content below.

Dr. Julie-Ann

I'm Dr. Julie-Ann, living life in its Technicolor finest by channeling my Grandma, Donna Reed, and June Cleaver with a bit of Audrey Hepburn and Grace Kelly glamour thrown in for good measure, too. I work outside of the home full-time as a university administrator but I nourish my soul and find my greatest happiness by trying to be the "perfect" 1950s homemaker.

Latest posts by Dr. Julie-Ann (see all)


  1. 1


    This post came at a very opportune time, as I just started Weight Watchers Online on Friday. I lost about 20 pounds before my wedding in April, and I’ve noticed it creeping back onto my tummy and tush.

    Thursday, I started documenting my outfits for the “Self-Stitched September Challenge” and I was terribly displeased with what I saw. Friday, I decided to change things.

    I chose Weight Watchers, because I’ve had success with it in the past and because my Mother and Best Friend are also doing it, which sort of turns the whole thing into a “club.”

    Honestly, I’ve had body issues since High School, except for 3 glorious years when I was a tiny size 4/6. I turn 30 next year, and although I’ve been told it’s all down hill from there (something I utterly refuse to believe, just look at Helen Mirren), I figured I need to fix my waves and troughs of weight under control, NOW or I never will.
    Miranda recently posted..Another Challenge….My Profile

  2. 2


    Well, as you know, I am big on real foods that still look like they did when they were outside in the wild (or yard) not how they are in the pantry. I do not wail anymore but I did. I’m not sure what happened really. Suddenly the small but incremental health improvements added up to a snowball and being fed up with not being in control of my eating seemed ridiculous AND ludicrous. I blogged about it and that was it. Boom, healthy diet. Mr Powers would send me to the top of the class 😉
    Alison Golden – The Secret Life of a Warrior Woman recently posted..10 Foods To Remove From Your Diet To Regain Your HealthMy Profile

  3. 4


    I didn’t know that women were encouraged to exercise back then. What did “exercise” entail? I’m guessing it didn’t involve spandex and running.
    Some of the advice from back then is a little outlandish, but this is a lot better than the potions and fasts that are purported to make us slim today! I like his outlook.
    Lindsey recently posted..On “Teaching Children to Question”.My Profile

  4. 6

    Dr. Julie-Ann says

    Miranda~I truly believe that having your mom and best friend supporting you at WW will help you tremendously. And you’re smart to nip the weight gain in the bud now.

    Alison~Mr. Powers would, indeed, send you to the top of the class!

    Mimi~ I agree! I think people are so quick to dismiss the wisdom from that time because of the stereotypes associated with it. But once we get through the chafe, there is a whole lot of goodness!

    Lindsey~ Oh, yes! The encouragement to exercise has been around a very long time but the rationale behind it was different. It was for vitality rather than vanity. The emphasis was on sports rather than “working out.”

    Carrie~ I’m with you! I love the reminder to stop complaining and just do something about it :)