"Elaine liked her models lean, but Jim Rainey liked his girl Janey well-rounded...which gave her a king-size problem: how to keep her figure — and her job — without losing her man." For a while now I've been amassing a collection of career romances from the 1940s through the 1960s — titles like Lady Lawyer; Polly Perry, TV Cook; The Girl on the Bookmobile and A Flair for People: Personnel. While they're uniformly fascinating in their portrayal of working women in other eras, they definitely fall into two categories: conscientious informational tracts on industries, designed to really introduce young women to potential careers — and unabashedly lurid stories whose portrayal of industries seems fanciful, at best. Today I bring you the Cliffs treatment on the latter, Jeanne Bowman's 1961 A Measure of Love, which gives "eating disorder" a whole new name.Janey is a model. And not just any model — the face of exclusive boutique Elaine's! So why does the first scene find her crying in the rain? She's gained weight. "Think of it as four pounds of butter in all the wrong places. The Medina girl came in for her trousseau, and I had to model it because we are, or rather were, the same size. The wedding gown had a basque waist. When they zipped me in it looked awful." Elaine is furious! And Janey's bitchy roommates are no help: "Martha had made the casserole again: raw brown rice, ground beef, button mushrooms, and on top wads of cashew nuts." (Ew. -Ed.) They spitefully tell her she can have a cup of skimmed broth instead. It develops Janey can't marry her weird feeder boyfriend, Jim, because she has to support her grandma and is only qualified. "On the other hand, how could she hold Jim's interest if she lived on lettuce and grapefruit and continued to look like a two-armed road sign?" "Are you trying to kill yourself?" he roars. "Do you know what happens to girls who don't eat properly?" "They keep their jobs," she retorts. They arrive at a "solution": she'll binge for a week then go to a "beauty farm" to "take off the excess." According to this plan, she has "cream in her coffee, and three big jam-filled crullers." Feeder Jim is thrilled. "Never had Jim been so approving. He even understood that she couldn't start out by eating as much as he. Her intake had shrunk. But each evening she could consume a little more." He also says stuff like, "Have some more scalloped potatoes; they use real cream in these." She puts on ten pounds and goes to the "beauty farm." But when she arrives, she finds Jim has double-crossed her: the farm wants to fatten her up even more! "There are girls who can maintain a model's figure without sacrificing their health. You're not one of them," says the director. Finally she talks the director into letting them "restack her" — ie, redistribute her weight so she can model. She is inducted into the world of the Beauty Farm, with its psychiatrist, doctor, dietician, athletic director, assorted patients, some of whom appear to be mentally ill, and diet regimens that seem to center around steaks swimming in pools of melted butter. They're given a lot of literature saying things like, "health and beauty are one, for who can be beautiful without health?' Janey is forced to spend her time with a woman who's supposed to be catatonic, but who gets cured as soon as Janey shows up. Anyway, after a week at the Beauty Farm, Janey, through a sadistic regimen of hikes in the rain, has slimmed down enough to go back to work at Elaine's. Right off the bat, she is asked to model a salmon lame number. But, lo and behold, it won't zip! Long story short: Elaine has altered the gown so Janey seems too fat to model and has to be fired. Why she couldn't just fire her is unclear. Janey goes back to the Beauty Farm instead to learn the art of "beauty cultivation." Then things just get weird. Janey's grandmother shows up and explains why Janey's insecure: "You were such a beautiful child, Grandpa feared you'd grow up vain. So he picked imaginary flaws. He overdid it...He was a fine man, but prejudiced about beauty in women. You see, a great beauty turned him down before he married me." Oh, and then we find out why her boyfriend Jimmy is a feeder: the aunt who raised him. "She's a good woman, but she had funny ideas about food. And she was thin as a rail...I half starved during my growing years, for food and affection, and somehow I associated slenderness with a form of extreme attrition. To me, someone real plump was the antithesis." Um, so that's that. Cured through the magic of psychology and the beauty farm! A measure of love, indeed.
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@descent_into_votd: you should try it- my dad has always pu butter on his steak, and i picked up the habbit—it is realy good...no need to go to a "beauty farm" for that kind of deliciousness.