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 ‘breasts’

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 ~

Bust Worries

Sunday, August 15th, 2010

an inconsequential element in the total mosaic of traitsQ Dear Miss Abigail:

I have such small boobs they are hardly boobs! The thing is they are only starting to grow now and I just turned twelve years old and some of my grade six friends have bigger breasts than me and my close friend Mel has big boobs and we always have sleepovers and talk about boobs and do things with our bras but I only have a training bra. How long will it take them to get kinda full since they are really hurting right now? Thanx!


A Dear Jeanelle:

I hate to alarm you, but you’ve got plenty of years ahead of you to worry about the size and shape of your breasts. I can’t give you a specific time frame, though. Sorry. Perhaps you’ll be comforted to read the following from How to “Cash-In” On Your Worries, by George W. Crane. Now, could you explain what “things” you and Mel do with your bras on your sleepovers? Just curious.

1956: Don’t Worship Your Anatomy

‘Oh Dr. Crane, I am so mortified because I have such large breasts,’ other girls will tearfully exclaim. ‘Would it be safe for me to have a plastic surgeon remove part of my breasts?’

Yes, it is safe enough, but usually not warranted. Small breasts and full breasts are really an inconsequential element in the total mosaic of traits that comprise a charming personality. The chief trouble with girls who grow upset over a single physical feature, is their lack of proper perspective. They are like that Florida girl with the crossed eye whom I mentioned earlier. They are idolatrous, worshiping a narrow segment of their own anatomy.

Many girls with perfect anatomical busts are a perfect ‘bust’ on a date, so get wise to reality. Other girls with flat chests or very pendulous busts are popularity personified, with proposals of marriage by the dozen, and that is literally true!

If you repose such credulous belief in the magic of a normal bust, then you are almost sure to be disappointed, even if you resorted to plastic surgery. For that very yen to have the surgeon makes you popular, indicates you fail to see clearly what constitutes charming femininity.

A girl can be charming and popular though she has a leg removed or a breast amputated. Freckles and a pug nose and skinny legs or thick ankles and big hips, don’t exert more than a minor influence on your total rating as ‘date bait.’

A cheery smile and a ready compliment for your male companion can get you an engagement ring much faster than the most publicized Hollywood bust. If you still disbelieve me, just visit the Marriage License window at your county court house and watch the applicants thereat. There probably isn’t one Hollywood type of female among them per 1,000. Count ’em for yourself and see!

Source: Crane, George W. How to “Cash-In” On Your Worries. Chicago: Hopkins Syndicate, 1956.
~ pp. 146-47 ~

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 ~

1929: Beautiful Breasts

Tuesday, January 1st, 2008

This being the first day of 2008 (hard to believe) I thought I would find something to help you with your latest new year’s resolutions. I’m sure most of you have resolved to spend more time with family and friends, excercise more, eat better, to earn more money and perhaps travel to exotic locales this coming year. But I wonder, are there any women out there resolving to take better care of a part of our bodies that we often take for granted — the breasts? The author of Lovely Ladies hopes that you will. After reading this, I think I’ll try to do better by them this year.

No woman can have truly womanly beauty without beautiful breasts. If illness or childbirth causes them to droop, don’t allow this condition to continue for a single month. And allow no perverted current ideas to cause you to bind or strap them into a semblance of boyish flatness, and thus break down their muscles and delicate tissues.

First, the underdeveloped breasts. Simply massage them in a rotating movement five minutes night and morning, with lanolin or cocoa butter, all that they will absorb. Dust with talcum. Always mix a few drops of tincture of benzoin with lanolin or cocoa butter for whitening.

Next, breasts that sag because of illness. Watch this particularly after operations, after childbirth, and after nursing a child. They must have a massage with diluted alcohol, then a good brisk slapping with a folded towel wrung out in cold water, then the upward and rotating massage with the lanolin or cocoa butter, unless they are already very large. Never under any circumstances attempt to reduce your breasts with epsom salts or reducing creams or bandages, or rubbing contraptions which are beneficial to other parts of the body.

Continue these ministrations until your breasts are beautiful, and return to the measures if your breasts tend ever to lose that beauty.

Important Disclaimer: This is originally from the 1920s, so this advice may therefore be a bit unsound. You might want to confer with your doctor before rubbing something like “tincture of benzoin” (whatever that is) or any other product that sounds funny and is probably not readily found in your local drugstore onto your chest. And hey — don’t blame Miss Abigial if your breasts burst into flame with the use of epsom salts or reducing creams. This is meant for entertainment purposes only!