Who is Miss Abigail?

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

Find me on…

Get the feed


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 ‘bra’

What Do You Want? Bigger Boobs! When Do You Want Them? Now!

Sunday, August 15th, 2010

nothing to be ashamed ofQ Dear Miss Abigail:

How do I make my boobs look bigger without padding?


A Dear Razzy:

Ever heard of Judy Blume and that little book she wrote about a girl named Margaret? The one my friends and I practically memorized? No? Well, never mind. We’ll have to settle for the following tips about our friend The Bosom. They’re from McCall’s Guide to Teen-Age Beauty and Glamour, which written by Betsy Keiffer in 1958.

1959: Bosom ~ Too Much or Too Little

If you have a problem in this department, the chances are that it’s neither so grave nor so permanent as you think it is. For one thing, your proportions are still changing, and what seems like an opera star’s endowment today may be in perfect proportion with the rest of you by the time you’re in your twenties. And what strikes you as a calamitously flat chest still has time to develop more becoming contours. But in either case there are ways to make yourself happier about your looks in the meantime.

If you think your bosom is too large, and you are not generally overweight, clever camouflage is your best ally. Your bra is an essential ingredient of this. Shop in a store that has a wide selection, enlist the help of a salesgirl ~ because they know more about this problem than you do ~ and find a well-designed bra that really fits and supports. Remember that your clothes, too, make a world of difference in the total effect. Stay away from tight sweaters, extravagant collars or necklines, and blouses or dresses made of nubby materials or such clinging fabrics as jersey. Full skirts and waists not too tightly belted will help you look well proportioned. Another point: avoid the sort of hairdo that adds to a top-heavy effect. Keep your hair medium length, simple and sleek. And please, please, don’t hunch over. You have nothing to hide.

If your problem is just the opposite, a bit of padding in your bra, otherwise known as a ‘falsie,’ is nothing to be ashamed of. But do choose both bra and pad (some bras come with built-in padding) carefully. Make sure you’re comfortable and look natural. Experiment with clothes until you find a cut ~ often a bias top ~ that accents your bosom becomingly. For casual wear, stick to blouses or bulky sweaters instead of skin-tight pull-overs.

Naturally, if you look flat-chested because you’re too thin, it’s only sensible to try to put on some weight. And exercises, though there are none which will develop the breasts themselves, can strengthen the muscles that support them and help you avoid a caved-in look. My final plea: don’t waste money on so-called ‘developing’ creams or lotions. The one that really works has yet to be developed.

Source: Keiffer, Betsy. McCall’s Guide to Teen-Age Beauty and Glamour. New York: Pyramid Books,1959.
~ 28-29 ~

To 34B or Not to 34B

Sunday, August 15th, 2010

the fullness of womanhoodQ Dear Miss Abigail:

I’m a twelve-year-old girl who has started going through puberty. My breasts have been developing faster than most of the girls in my class. I’m already bigger than my mom. She told me that if I started wearing a bra now I would probably wear a size 34B. She thinks I should start wearing one now, but I don’t think so. What should I do?


A Dear Illana:

Listen to your mother, young lady! This is the perfect reason to have them around ~ who else is going to tell you to start strapping your boobs in? I remember the day my mom first took me bra shopping. I was horrified, but ultimately it was the best thing that could have happened. I was more comfortable, and so was everyone around me. In any case, this excerpt from Evelyn Millis Duvall’s Facts of Life and Love for Teen-Agers should help you think about all of these bosomly issues. Good luck!

1956: Breasts and Brassieres

Breast development is apparent quite early in the girl’s maturing. As her breasts become larger and fuller a girl is sometimes sensitive about such obvious signs of growing up. For a short time she may want to avoid tight dresses that reveal the new lines of her developing bust. Fashions that decree straight, boyish figures for women add to a girl’s self-consciousness about the full lines of a mature bosom. More normally, however, styles recognize and accent the natural form and figure of women. Fortunately many girls are proud of these signs of growing up and learn to wear clothes that enhance rather than play down the ripening lines of maturity. Some girls, impatient with the course of nature, add to the curves of the breasts by using what are popularly known as ‘falsies’ ~ rounded forms that fit over the breasts and make them appear rounder and fuller than they really are. If a girl is concerned about her breast development, she will do well to consult her doctor rather than resort too quickly and uneasily to makeshifts. Given time enough, nature usually endows a girl with the fullness of womanhood that is suitable for her.

Selecting brassieres that give some support without being uncomfortably binding is relatively easy these days. Bras come in many sizes, measured in inches around the largest circumference of the bust; for example, 30, 32, 34, 36, are popular sizes. The bra should fit snugly without feeling tight when a girl breaths, laughs, or bends over. The fullness of the breast is accomodated by varying cup sizes of brassieres. The A cup is for the small breast, the B cup for the medium full breast, the C cup for the full breast, and the D cup for the very rounded breast. Many fabrics and styles are available, from the sheerest nets and laces to the heavier cottons. Some uplift quality is usually desired. Easy washability is imperative. Straps which have a strip of elastic at front or back usually wear better, without pulling out, than those with fixed, inflexible ends. The same holds for the fastenings at the back. A piece of elastic at least an inch or two in length adds considerably to both the comfort and the wearing quality of the garment.

Source: Duvall, Evelyn Millis. Facts of Life and Love for Teen-Agers. New York: Association Press, 1956.
~ pp. 7-8 ~

Care of the Breast

Sunday, August 15th, 2010

the bust pockets should be fashioned with firm fabricTwo things I must question about these “care of” pointers: 1) This excerpt is from a book called Secrets of Love and Marriage ~ I wonder, is this really necessary for a healthy, happy marriage? and 2) The book was written and edited by men. Hmm . . .

1939: Care of the Breast

The tight, bandage-type of brassiere which was in vogue until the recent change in the mode greatly aggravated the tendency toward prolapse of the breasts. Fortunately women have awakened to this danger and styles now call for firm, rounded contours.

Attention is therefore being paid to suitable supports and the use of healthful girdles, belts, and common sense corsets.

Many women suffer from prolapse of the breasts, particularly after having nursed a child. Physicians now, thanks to the change in styles, have little trouble in obtaining the cooperation of the patients in wearing uplift bandeaus. The pendulous, atrophic type of breasts should be supported by a suitable bandeau.

Such a bandeau should be carefully fitted, and be made of slightly elastic material. The bust pockets should be fashioned with some firm fabric at the bottom of the pocket. Where the breasts are large, there should be an anchorage of fabric attached to the breast pockets, to fit snugly around the chest.

The correct bandeau should prevent sagging and subsequent ptosis. It should permit full freedom in breathing, and relieve the pendulous sensation.

Women who are dancers, frequently suffer from collapse of the breasts because of neglect in wearing uplift supports. Young mothers often neglect this attention to the care of the breasts, resulting in a sagging condition.

During pregnancy, when the breast become heavy and enlarged, a support should be worn constantly. It should not cause pressure on the nipples. Physicians prescribe a bandeau during pregnancy and nursing to prevent breast abscesses and “caking.”

The use of applications involving massaging to improve the appearance of the breasts should not be undertaken without the advice of your physician. Supporters, however, usually can be fitted at the good clothing store.

Frankly, I would advise you to give your bandeau a careful inspection. Does it constrict the breasts? Do they still sag when the bandeau is in place? Are the straps too tight across the diaphragm, restricting breathing? If so, discard them and seek a more suitable bandeau.

Limp, prolapsed breasts are considered unsightly among all races. In his chapter [in The Sexual Life of Savages] on the care of the body as practised among the natives of the Trobriant Islands, Malinowski says: “Firm, well-developed breasts are admirable in a woman. Adolescent girls massage their breasts.”

The savages are no different from civilized peoples in this view of personal beauty.

Source: Hendry, James Parker and E. Podolsky, ed. Secrets of Love and Marriage. New York: Herald Publishing Company, 1939.
~ pp. 177-180 ~

The Thin Line Between Like and Hate

Monday, July 12th, 2010

you started acting gigglyQ Dear Miss Abigail:

Could “I hate you” mean “I like you”? I ask this because there’s this guy and when we we’re playing and joking around he said “I hate you” and I said “I hate you” back. But when I said “I hate you,” I really wanted to say “I like you.” So like instead of him saying “I like you” he says “I hate you.” Is it like him saying “I like”? Is he just too shy to say “I like you”?


A Dear Alex:

Lucky for you, I have an amazing talent for interpreting just such a conversation. Closing my eyes, thinking, thinking ~ hey, I think he likes you!

Here’s some advice that might help explain why communicating with boys can be so difficult. It’s from Ellen Peck’s informative book titled How to Get a Teen-Age Boy and What to Do with Him When You Get Him, written in 1969. And before I go, please remember, Alex, that like is such a strong word. Please use it very carefully.

1969: What A Teen-Age Boy is Like

A teen-age boy is basically insecure.

It all started when you were twelve and he suddenly noticed that you were wearing a bra. That’s all the evidence he needed that you were definitely and completely female. But you left him feeling very unsure of himself as a male. Especially when you started acting giggly and embarrassed whenever he came around. (Yes, you did too.) And that nice, comfortable feeling he had with you ~ and with all girls when they looked pretty much like he did ~ changed. You became different then. Because of that bra, and the giggly behavior, he began to feel uncomfortable and tongue-tied around you. And maybe he isn’t quite over that feeling yet. Even though you’ve stopped the giggling. (Or, if you haven’t, do.)

Source: Peck, Ellen. How to Get a Teen-Age Boy and What To Do With Him When You Get Him. New York: Bernard Geis Associates, 1969.
~ pp. 54-55 ~