Charming you: a practical handbook of tips to a lovelier you

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Kaitlin McNabb Kaitlin McNabb's picture
Charming you: a practical handbook of tips to a lovelier you

my friend was moving this weekend into another friends house, and they had to do the old stop off at the parents house to unload (and reload) items they didn't want and furniture they needed. My friend's mom is quite the awesome lady and before my friends left she gave this book with a couple of giggles as they walked out the door.

Charming You by Marjorie Frost  This book was published in 1968.

the book has lots and lots of helpful hints on how to be a 'lovelier you' especially when it comes to seating:

"Approaching a chair diagonally

This deserves the blue ribbon for femininity!

  1. Arrance your steps so that the calf of your leg will touch the chair on your last step. If you're approaching from the right of the chair, it should be your left calf; if from the left of the chair, your right calf.
  2. Pivot and sit as on the previous chair approaches.
  3. You will be seated diagonally across the seat with your hips at a back corner and knees at the opposite front corner. (Many agree tha this figure "S" is the epitome of feminine loveliess for sitting positions)."

The information goes on and on. I was so unaware there were so many ways to sit in a chair, and that they are ranked.

Also the book mentions something called "leading with your thighs," After practicing this motion in the living room, I am not yet convinced this lady wasn't on acid, but that is impossible.


Catchfire Catchfire's picture

An indispensible find, Kaitlin. LibraryThing categorizes it under "Christian self-help." Sounds like its readers need all the assistance they can find...

Also the book mentions something called "leading with your thighs," After practicing this motion in the living room, I am not yet convinced this lady wasn't on acid, but that is impossible.

While your difficulty with the technique is not uncommon, I find execution much easier if I am also smizing.


I can't believe I survived that era with my sanity intact.

Oh wait, I didn't.

Kaitlin McNabb Kaitlin McNabb's picture

haha smizing. what hasn't tyra banks done for us?

There was also this hilarious chapter about what you should do if you can't find a chair, which basically consisted of ladies panicked and stress running in circles, zeroing in on chairs and diagonally approaching them.

If I believed in gender roles, I would feel like a huge ass for sitting on the ground or walking directly at a chair.

Timebandit Timebandit's picture

Okay, I've done a little experimenting, and I think I've figured out leading with the thighs.  You have to have a sort of mincing, cross-over gait that is completely useless for covering ground in a speedy fashion, but might be considered precious and feminine by the sufficiently addled.

Kaitlin McNabb Kaitlin McNabb's picture

i have incredibly long femurs (to the point that my nickname is 'feems').

This is going to prove a probably for my lady-likeness as well as loveliness. Luckily I am lousy with those two things, so no worries.

Timebandit Timebandit's picture

Then you'll have more thigh to lead with!!!

Actually, I'm very long-limbed myself.  Have a bitch of a time finding sleeves and pant legs to fit.  It's such an awkward gait that I don't think leg length either improves it or makes it worse.  Thinking about the martians disguised as the sexy woman in Mars Attacks...


Perhaps the book's title should have been "Charming Ewe: life lessons for lady sheep"?

I actually was taught to walk like that, but it never really took.

Kaitlin McNabb Kaitlin McNabb's picture

Mars Attacks! Yes! that part where the alien creeps up on him in the white house always freaked me out.

I just feel like a thigh wasn't design to lead while walking? Is this why it never took Lagatta?

Timebandit Timebandit's picture

Ah, but to "lead with the thigh" you must thrust that hip forward as well, giving you that exaggerated sway!  amiright, lagatta?


I couldn't even figure out what it means to lead with the thighs, but then I realized, it's that catwalk gait.  You know, where you're swivelling your hips so far back and forth that you look like you're about to make a 45 degree turn with every step.

So, are there any more fun tips in the book?  Inquiring feminine minds want to know!

Boom Boom Boom Boom's picture

Any tips for men? Sealed

Kaitlin McNabb Kaitlin McNabb's picture

We'll have to wait until I can get my hands on that copy again! I should have stolen it from my friends house...

I'm sure there are no tips for men as their behaviour can always be justified in some way Wink

Catchfire Catchfire's picture

This article I cam across this morning (from the incomparable Laurie Penny) seems to fit this thread:

Model Behavior

Gender determines the shape of our fantasies. Good little boys are supposed to dream about changing the world, but good little girls are supposed to dream about changing ourselves. From the first time we open a book of fairy tales, we learn that beauty is destiny, and when we grow up, we’re told that this destiny is ours to command. If we can consume wisely enough to be beautiful and fashionable, we can transform everything about ourselves.

When beauty becomes mandatory, it ceases to be about fun, about play. Dressing up, playing with gender roles, doing your braids badly in the mirror, and eating half your mother’s lipstick in an attempt to get it on your face: Do you remember when that used to be fun? And do you remember when the fun stopped? Like any game, the woman game stops being fun when you start playing to win, especially if you’ve got no choice: Win or be ridiculed, win or become invisible, dismissed — disturbed.

For modern women in this anxious age of small and hidden gods, the makeover is a ritual of health and devotion and social conformity. It’s the central transfigurative myth of modern femininity under capitalism, and it’s lucrative. Playing the woman game, the game of artifice and self-annihilation, is serious business. A recent survey by shopping channel QVC claimed that the average British woman spends £2,055 per year, or 11% of the median full-time female salary, on maintaining and updating the way she looks. Men, by contrast, spend just 4% of their salary on their appearance, most of which goes on shaving and the gym. Glossy women’s magazines are manuals of self-transformation: Change your body for summer, change your wardrobe for winter, learn to look at the world through smoky eyes, sparkly eyes, or natural eyes, which require as many paints as the rest. Cosmetic-surgery companies plaster public transport with promises to deliver not just physical changes, but emotional ones like “confidence.” Fashion editorials advise us to spend money we don’t have on skirt-suits and handbags as “investment pieces”; you’re not supposed to dress and style your body simply to please yourself but with one eye on your financial future. That skirt-suit really is an “investment” in a one-woman business whose product is you, only glossier. This is what power means to the modern, emancipated woman: terminal exhaustion and a wardrobe full of expensive disguises.

The paeans to disguise and self-reinvention are everywhere, from reality television shows like The SwanHow to Look Good Naked, and the global Top Model megafranchise to the world of high art. Even recent films that have dealt with the few iconic instances of female political power in the recent history of Anglo-American government — Game Change, the story of Sarah Palin’s 2008 vice presidential bid, and Iron Lady, the biopic of Margaret Thatcher — have sold themselves as double-makeover stories. The viewer is invited first to boggle at how well-known actresses (Julianne Moore, Meryl Streep) were transformed to fit the title roles and then at how the women portrayed physically transformed themselves for power — how they manipulated their audiences with cleverly chosen accessories that were, if we are to believe the screenwriters, more important than their policies. The Iron Lady’s vision of Thatcher’s legacy deals with the former prime minister’s epochal battle with mining unions in one throwaway sentence, but it does feature a 20-minute makeover  sequence which could come straight off a reality show as scripted by Milton Friedman. It is no accident thatThe Iron Lady won the Oscar for Best Makeup.

The fantasy is atomizing and addictive. You can be anyone you want to be, it whispers, as long as you know how to play the game. America’s Next Top Model, now in its 19th series with spin-off shows in many other nations, outfits itself in a horror-frock ensemble of neoliberal feminist cliches. The rules of the game are gruelling: The best contestants are pliant and directable, silently submitting to such gymnastic humiliations as being photographed topless on a horse or writhing in a giant bowl of Greek salad. You’re meant to show some character, but never enough to overwhelm “the product” in the eyes of industry “insiders” with an array of frightening hairstyles. Host Tyra Banks is a constant, terrifying presence, offering various bits of grim advice for young women who want to “be on top” — and what more could a modern girl possibly want? Part fairy godmother, part corporate dominatrix, Banks shows the contestants and the rest of us how pliant female bodies and personalities can best be contorted to please the judges. They learn to “smize” — to smile with the eyes, not the mouth, which is almost impossible to do without looking like you’re trying to hold in a fart in a quiet room.

This modern Cindarella story, this identity-quest that is really a quest for many identities, is phrased as spiritual in the most uninspiring manner. Clumsy ritual is broken down into bite-size chunks, reality conforming to the dictats of television, spliced by advertising, replete with incantations, psalmlike call-and-response catchphrases, managed stages of emotional dissolution and  reconstruction, and directed at every point by the host — Tyra Banks, Gok Wan, even the effervescent RuPaul of LogoTV’s Drag Race — who functions as a spiritual guide, as priest, master, teacher. Do you have what it takes? Can you look good naked? Do you want to be on top?

and so on.

Kaitlin McNabb Kaitlin McNabb's picture

I <3 Laurie Penny Kiss