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Abigail Grotke
Silver Spring, MD
email: missabigail at missabigail dot com
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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!

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Posts Tagged ‘mirrors’

Mirrors

Saturday, August 14th, 2010

rely upon itHelena Rubinstein, in the foreword to her book entitled The Art of Feminine Beauty wrote:

I like to look forward half a century and imagine a world ~ and this dream is not beyond the realm of the possible ~ where every woman will rejoice in the possession of beauty . . . grace and mobility of movement, loveliness in coloring and harmonious interplay of mind and body. There is no reason why this goal may not be achieved ~ at least in countries like our own. The progress of the present century has been revolutionary.

Well, Helena, I hope we’ve made you proud with our more recent progress. There is no doubt in my mind that this was achieved due to a recent surge in the popularity of, um, mirrors. Of course.

1930: Mirrors

What is associated with make-up as inevitably as night with day? What, indeed, by mirrors! In fact, mirrors and beauty in general are inseparable, and I strongly urge the woman who cultivates beauty to surround herself with them. How can she possibly do without them? That pastoral period of antiquity, however lyrically praised and sung, must have been very dreary when women had only the limpid rivulets or pools in which to see themselves. Even the day when man invented the mirror of polished steel was but a slight improvement.

A mirror tells you your faults with such a calm matter-of-factness, in an impersonal way that no friend could do. The mirror is there, in your home, to counsel and guide you. Accept what it tells you with a grain of salt, but on the whole rely upon it. Do not be intimidated by it. Sometimes you may triumph over your mirror and at other times it will triumph over you. A poor mirror will cloud and change your coloring, and if very poor it will distort your features. On the other hand, a mirror in dim light will cast a glamour over your face and soften a crude make-up, of which kind of flattery one must beware. . . .

I would have women collect mirrors for their homes, and surround themselves with them. Let them have, as their first toilet requisite, even if they have to make sacrifices to obtain it, a triple mirror for their dressing table. Then, as soon as possible, a full length triple mirror for the bedroom or dressing room. And by all means let them have mirrors in their bathroom, the more the merrier, and mirror panels in their hall and drawing room. Above all, let them have hand mirrors on their dressing table, on their bathroom shelf. And at least one magnifying mirror, which are now being made so charmingly, with slender handles and colored enamel backs, or with gay leather coverings for traveling.

The story that each mirror tells may be slightly different, but by common sense you will be able to strike a happy medium that approximates that supposedly impossible ideal of seeing yourself as others see you.

Source: Rubinstein, Helena. The Art of Feminine Beauty. New York: Horace Liveright, 1930.
~ pp. 254-255 ~