Who is Miss Abigail?

Abigail Grotke
Silver Spring, MD
email: missabigail at missabigail dot com
twitter: @DearMissAbigail

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Miss Abigail has a collection of over 1,000 classic advice books, spanning from 1822 to 1978 and covering a variety of topics, from love and romance to etiquette and charm. The collection sparked the idea for this site, then a book, Miss Abigail's Guide to Dating, Mating, and Marriage, which has inspired an Off-Broadway production of the same name!


Posts Tagged ‘body odor’

My Boyfriend Has B.O.!

Saturday, August 14th, 2010

blighted romance and social ostracismQ Dear Miss Abigail:

I really hope you can help me, because this is driving me up the wall. My boyfriend, who I love very much, has no idea of personal hygiene. He stinks, yet isn’t bothered by it. How can I kindly persuade him to wash before my nose runs away?


A Dear Lydia:

I once had a high school teacher who stunk, but knew it. He warned us on the first day of classes that he had no sense of smell, and that we would just have to deal with the impending odors. We put up with it, but never did understand why he didn’t try just a bit harder to keep clean.

No matter what the reason, this bit of advice from Dress and Grooming, which is Unit Two of Estelle Hunter’s “Personality Development” series might be helpful for your less-than-fresh friend. And if you can’t come right out and say something to him about it, print this page out and subtly leave near a stack of newly purchased shower supplies. Yeah, that’ll work.

1939: Cleanliness the First Essential

The beginning of good grooming is personal cleanliness. Careful bathing is important as a hygienic measure, but it is even more important from the standpoint of personal attractiveness. It is regrettably true, however, that many persons are careless about their bathing. A daily bath with plenty of soap is the minimum essential.

You may laugh at the advertisements picturing the loss of business opportunities, blighted romance, and social ostracism by ‘B.O.’ (body odor), but be sure that you do not offend in this respect. If the hair in your armpits holds perspiration, apply a deodorant and remove the hair at least once a week. If your skin is sensitive, do not apply the deodorant at once, however, as to do so may cause a painful under-arm eruption.

Nothing is more attractive than a clean, healthy-looking skin. The care of the skin is discussed in the section on health, but a word should be said here about the need for using plenty of soap and water.

If the skin is oily, the face should be washed several times daily with warm, but not hot, water and soap. Great care should be taken in selecting soap. Since many soaps disagree with certain skins, everyone should experiment until he finds the soap that agrees with his skin. Following each application of soap and water, the face should be rinsed thoroughly and dried. Finally, a good astringent lotion should be applied.

Skin eruptions are a source of embarrassment to the possessor. Often they indicate some internal disorder. Eliminating them is then a matter of discovering and correcting the source of the trouble.

Source: Hunter, Estelle B. Personality Development, Unit Two: Dress and Grooming. Chicago: The Better-Speech Institute of America, 1939.
~ pp. 115-16 ~

She Smells Worse Than Wet Mulch!

Wednesday, August 11th, 2010

clear, clean wholesome waterQ Dear Miss Abigail:

I have a co-worker who smells worse than wet mulch. It’s not that she looks dirty, or dresses in dirty clothing or even has a trace of filth on her person. No, it’s just that there seems to be an invisible cloud of BO floating where ever she roams. Before I dropped a bar of Zest her way, I figured it’d be best to consult you.

Breathing Through My Mouth

A Dear Breathing:

I am sorry that I have no real suggestions as to what you could say to this co-worker of yours. But I have compiled some thoughts about cleanliness and body odor; maybe you could print this out and hang it up on your office bulletin board, or somewhere else conspicious? Or perhaps just pose as an Avon lady and deposit free samples of soap in a pretty pink basket near your desk. Maybe she’ll get the hint.

1947: Cleanliness Essential

What are the actual factors which have a good or bad effect upon marriage happiness? There is tidiness, for example. It is doubtful if there is anything more destructive to romance than soiled underwear or body odor. They must be guarded against with the utmost care, and yet one must have a smattering of good judgment too. If the housewife must do her own laundry she may not wish her husband to be overly free with the linen. She may prefer to have him wear his underwear until it is really soiled a bit than to be confronted with a mountain of washing and ironing each week. Possibly her husband would rather have her wear her danties longer than to have her exhausted with the effort to keep herself “as sweet as when she stepped out of her bath two hours ago.” A house, or a wife, or a husband may be so dainty that there is no comfort in living with it, or her, or him. One cannot relax well in a home or with a person who is too nice to get a bit messed up. After all, there is the work of the world to be done, and it is impossible for workers to avoid soil and perspiration entirely.

All of this is a matter for adjustment.

Source: Fishbein, Morris and Ernest W. Burgess. Successful Marriage. Garden City, N.J.: Doubleday and Company, 1947.
~ pp. 193-94 ~

1960: Beauty in Your Tub

The best things in life are free, and one of the greatest gifts is clear clean wholesome water. We are told that all life started in water, that we came originally from the sea. Each of us, we might say, is a miniature ocean enclosed in skin. Even our skins have their salty water content, within each cell and in the fluid-filled intercellular spaces. Water is essential to the life of every cell. It is essential both inside and outside.

If you have thought of your bath mainly as a Saturday night affair, let me tell you that cleanliness is only the first function of your beauty bath. For by changing the temperature and length of your bath, and by adding mineral salts, oils, unguents or cosmetic vinegar, you can make your bath serve a whole spectrum of relaxing and beautifying experiences.

Source: Hauser, Gayelord. Mirror, Mirror on the Wall: Invitation to Beauty. New York: Farrar, Straus and Cudahy, 1960.
~ pp. 237-38

1970: Body Odor

Body odors become much stronger in adolescence ~ partly as a result of glandular changes and skin changes, partly as the result of axillary (armpit) hair on which perspiration collects and is decomposed by bacterial action. It is essentially that teenagers, in a society like ours which considers body smells offensive, take a careful soap or shower daily and follow with an underarm deodorant.

Source: Spock, Dr. Benjamin. A Teenagers Guide to Life and Love. New York: Simon and Schuster,1970.
~ pp. 161-62 ~