We love to complain that the greatest crime perpetuated by women's magazine editors that they publish the old same crap under different covers month after month, year after year. Well, yesterday, we were directed to a website, Faking Good Breeding, on which a Smith College coed posted an excerpt from "What Every Woman Knows By Now", an Atlantic article about this most favorite of our irritations. The piece — written by British novelist/critic Marghanita Laski (no, not like the drink, or the Italian fashion heiress) — is better than anything we could ever dream up: In less than a thousand words, Laski (seen above left in 1934) hilariously and accurately calls bullshit on the stuff that modern women's periodicals are made of, and proves that nothing ever changes when it comes to shilling "femininity" on the newsstand and trafficking in man-anxiety. Her amazing ladymag manifesto-of-sorts — did we mention it was written in 1950? — after the jump.
"What Every Woman Knows By Now", from the "Accent On Living" section of the May 1950 issue of the Atlantic.
It is as much a source of amazement as of income to me that readers of the women's magazines have such an insatiable thirst for reading the same information over and over again, despite the fact that any one year's reading must inevitably give enough information about the technique of being a woman to see one through a lifetime. I have, then, no fear of spoiling the market, either for myself or others. Every subject in this symposium, given a snappy title and an angle that appeals to the editor, will still be worth a substantial fee.
The simplest are in the best taste.
Men like women to be in the best taste.
Find a new interest
Time cures all.
Men don't like women to ring them up.
CARE OF FACE
Remove old make-up with cream (dry skins), lotion (oily skins), or superfatted soap (if you must).
Then dab face with an astringent lotion.
Then pat in nourishing cream.
Blackheads are frequently due to internal causes. Drink lots of water.
Men are repelled by pimples.
Charm is an indefinable quality.
Men like it.
Choose the clothes that suit you.
You can be perfectly dressed at every income level.
Little touches of white must be immaculate.
Diagonal stripes are slimming.
Invest your all in one good little black dress (or tweed suit).
Don't go in for clutter but have lots of bits and pieces that will make one outfit do the work of ten.
Men like black satin, well-cut tweeds, floating tulle, utter simplicity, and don't notice what you wear anyway.
Read good books sometimes.
Men don't like cultured women much.
Figure deficiencies are frequently glandular. Consult your doctor.
A good corset can correct many figure faults. Have it fitted by an expert.
Good exercises can correct bad figures. Here are some.
Men like good figures.
If you can't afford good furs don't have any, but there are some awfully cheap ones in the shops.
Men are impressed by mink — but then, so are you.
HAIR ON THE HEAD
The condition of the hair reflects the general health.
Massage with the finger tips stimulates the scalp.
Brush fifty times a day and wash at least every fortnight.
Choose the hair style that suits you and don't get into a rut.
No moral opprobrium is attached to dye.
Men love those gleaming tresses.
In the armpits remove by depilatory.
On the legs remove by depilatory, wax, sandpaper, or razor; the last will coarsen the new growth.
On the face remove by wax (will weaken growth) or by electrolysis (will kill it).
If the growth is slight, bleach with peroxide-and-ammonia.
Men notice superfluous hair.
Before doing rough work smooth a protective cream over your hands.
After washing, smooth a creamy lotion over your hands.
Make your hands flexible by shaking in one way or another.
File your nails to the shape that suits you.
Press back your cuticles after you've had a bath.
Chipped polish looks slovenly.
Men abhor scarlet talons.
One big good piece is better than a lot of little cheap trinkets.
One big cheap piece is better than a lot of little good ones.
In fact, One Big Piece is Best.
Men are better if they like jewelry.
Smooth on foundation cream or lotion, not forgetting neck.
Add rouge where it improves the natural shape of your face.
Add discreet eye-shadow and mascara on the upper lids only.
Paint outline of lips with a brush, fill in with lipstick, blot on a tissue, powder, and add more lipstick.
Press in powder over face and neck; remove surplus.
Men don't like women to be obviously made up.
Be sweet to old people.
Be kind to his mother.
Be nice to other girls — they have brothers.
Don't comb your hair or clean your nails in public.
Don't order direct from the waiter.
Don't swear or drink too much.
Men hate red marks on coffee cups.
Enter it joyously and proudly.
Remember you've got to take as well as give.
There are all sorts of compensations.
Men should be encouraged to wash up.
Choose the perfume that suits you.
Spray it onto your body but never onto your clothes.
Test new perfume by trying a drop on the back of your hand.
Have different perfumes for different moods or make one perfume distinctively YOU.
Men are enraptured by perfume.
Either go with an open mind or with a rigidly-to-be-adhered-to list.
Either enlist the help of the shop assistant or don't let her make up your mind for you.
Either men like shopping or — more usually — they don't.
Prepare a few conversational remarks to break the ice.
Try to put the other person at his ease.
Instruct yourself in current affairs.
Join a club.
Men like a woman to be a good listener.
Cream hands thickly and sleep in gloves the night before.
Try to fit in a facial and a hair-do.
Rest for an hour with your feet up and pads over your eyes.
Make up extra specially carefully.
Oh, men, men, men.
Consult your doctor.
Send us a stamped addressed envelope.
Men are beasts.