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 ‘teeth’

Your Teeth, Keys to Beauty

Saturday, August 14th, 2010

your teeth decideThis weekend, while you all are out having a grand old time, I’ll be getting all four of my wisdom teeth extracted. With this obviously on my mind, I located the following tidbit from Gayelord Hauser’s Mirror, Mirror on the Wall. I’m certainly not going to turn down any painkillers on Saturday, but it sure does make me feel better about getting those teeth pulled.

1960: Your Teeth, Keys to Beauty

Your teeth can make or destroy your beauty. They are your keys to beauty, not only of your face but of your whole person. Let me tell you why.

Look in your mirror. Smile! A smile lights up the face like the sun breaking through clouds. Does your smile do that? Or is it dimmed by teeth that are not white, strong and healthy?

Study the contour of your face, the curve of your cheeks, jawline, chin. Your teeth decide what that contour will be. They are the architectural framework, the foundation upon which the chin, the lips and the mouth, the cheeks are dependent. The teeth can make the lower half of the face beautiful or ugly. They determine the proportions of the face from brow to jaw. The even influence the shape of the nose! Many a nose looks too long, not because it is too long, but because uneven or unfortunately positioned teeth make the distance from nose to chin too short. Many women think they need a face-life, when what they need is repair and reconstruction of their teeth.

And now look at your eyes, your skin, your figure. If they please you ~ if your skin is smooth, your eyes bright, your figure trim ~ a good part of the credit must go to your teeth!

It is your teeth that have prepared the food for your good digestion. They have ground it and mixed it and made it ready for the wonderful chemistry of your digestive system. Your good teeth have begun the work of turning nutrients into the materials of beauty. Without strong, healthy teeth, very often the sad results are indigestion, constipation, and the other digestive ills with all their unfortunate effects on your looks.

For your beauty’s sake, have these keys to your beauty looked over and cleaned frequently; take good care of your teeth.

Source: Hauser, Gayelord. Mirror, Mirror on the Wall: Invitation to Beauty. New York: Farrar, Straus and Cudahy, 1960.
~ pp. 194-95 ~

How Well Are You Groomed?

Saturday, August 14th, 2010

are your undergarments clean?This selection comes from a fabulous home economics book sent to me by my friend Helen in Kansas. She searched the region for an addition to Miss Abigail’s collection, and I must say she found the perfect text.

1936: How Well Are You Groomed?

Following are some questions to be considered in judging whether or not one is well groomed. How many of them can you answer satisfactorily? Talk them over with others in your group and compare opinions. Perhaps you will want to show these questions to your mother or to some older girl or woman and get her opinion as to how well you are groomed. List suggestions of ways by which better grooming can be attained.

Body Cleanliness.
1. Do you take a bath or shower every day?
2. Do you use a deodorant?
3. Do you keep the armpits free of hair?
4. Are you free from body odor?
5. If perfume is used, is it fresh, faint, and not cheap?

Face and neck.
1. Is your complexion good, your skin clear?
2. Are your face, neck, and ears clean?
3. Do you use the right shade of powder? Is it entirely invisible?
4. If rouge is used, what principles for selection and use are you trying to follow?
5. What bathing, eating, exercising, and other routines are you following to create an attractive complexion? Mention several of the “facial allies” to personality, such as clean teeth, interested manner, etc.

Eyebrows and eyes.
1. Are your eyebrows natural and brushed smooth?
2. Are your eyes natural, not exaggerated with make-up?
3. Are your eyes bright, healthy? Do you look straight into the eyes of others as you talk to them?

1. Are your hands clean?
2. Are they smooth and white, not red and rough?
3. Are your fingers a good color?
4. Are the nails manicured artistically, so that they are pleasing in shape, not too long, too short, too pointed, too square, too vivid, or too shiny?

1. Does your hair make a becoming frame about your face?
2. Is it tidy?
3. Does it look healthy, alive, well cared for?
4. Is the color natural, not bleached?
5. Is your hair free from dandruff?
6. Do you shampoo it at least once in two weeks?
7. Do you massage your scalp at least once a week?

Teeth and mouth.
1. Are your teeth attractive? That is, do they appear to be in a healthy condition?
2. Are your lips attractive, soft, not dry and cracked?
3. Do you promote a good natural color in your lips and cheeks by adequate sleep and exercise, and by medical attention if you are anemic?
4. Is your breath free from bad odors?
5. Do you clean your teeth at least twice a day?
6. Do you have them cleaned by the dentist one or more times a year, or often enough to keep them attractive?
7. Do you have them regularly examined by the dentist and cared for when needed?

Outer Garments.
1. Are your clothes clean, without spots and odor?
2. Are they neatly mended where necessary?
3. If you wear light-colored or white scarfs, collars and cuffs, or flowers, are they clean and neat?
4. Are your clothes well dressed, without undue wrinkles?
5. Are they well brushed, without dust, dandruff and stray hairs? If necessary, do you have a brush in your locker to freshen your garments?

Shoes and hose.
1. Are your shoes clean and well polished? Do you wipe them off every night? If not, how often? How often do you polish them? Have you a cleaning kit in your room?
2. Do you keep your heels clean and straight? When you polish shoes, do you polish the backs?
3. Are your hose clean? Do you wear a clean pair of stockings every day? Do you wash your own as most business and college girls do?
4. Do you adjust your stockings straight at the back seam without wrinkles at the ankles?
5. Are they neatly mended, if necessary?
6. Is your hat clean and well brushed?

1. Is your jewelry clean?
2. Are your gloves clean?
3. Are they neatly mended, if necessary?
4. Is your purse clean and in good condition?
5. Are your handkerchief, powder puff, and comb clean?
6. Are they kept out of sight?

1. Is your slip the right length for your dress?
2. Do your shoulder straps show?
3. Are your undergarments clean? That is, do you change them three or four times a week?

Health routines.
1. Do you get out in the sunlight every day?
2. Do you walk enough daily to stimulate circulation?
3. Do you play games once or twice a week hard enough to cause perspiration? And follow it with a cleansing bath?
4. Are you interested in acquiring a natural “peaches and cream” complexion from outdoor life, exposure to sun and wind, vigorous games, and adequate sleep?
5. Do you drink six to eight glasses of water daily? Have daily elimination?
6. Can you find among your friends those in whom good health practices are the cause of their natural attractiveness and good spirits?
7. What health practices can you add to the routines here suggested to increase personal fitness and wholesome attractiveness?

Mental health and personal appearance.
1. Do you consistently maintain a friendly attitude toward others? A person friendly to others never lacks friends.
2. Do you harbor resentments or quickly forget them? Do you allow yourself to be easily provoked and continue to feel put out? “A good forgetter of trifling disappointments is a good looker.”
3. Have you a complaining voice and unpleasant ways at home? Cosmetics will not cover faults that pull down the corners of your mouth and put crow’s feet around your eyes.
4. Whatever your religious faith, do you maintain a daily contact with the spiritual resources of life:
By reading something inspiring and worthwhile?
By reflecting on the widening of helpful relationships in your own town, nation, and the world and what you can do to enlarge the rule of good will at home, in business, and between nations?
5. Do you subscribe to the friendly code:
“Come on, let’s live and let’s help others to live, with richer lives, wider interests, fuller opportunities, for young and old, rich and poor, American and foreigner!” If you do, then you will have a personality worth grooming a bit in private; but after grooming in private, forget the art and go out with a friendly smile. The world has a place for every such person!

Source: Van Duzer, Adelaide Laura, et. al. Everyday Living for Girls. Chicago: J. B. Lippincott Company,1936.
~ p. 108-10 ~

The Breath

Tuesday, August 10th, 2010

fatal to friendship and to loveQ Dear Miss Abigail:

Sometimes I get self-conscious when talking to people because I have bad breath. It has lasted about three to four years now. I’m sixteen. Will I ever talk “carefree” again?


A Dear Viv:

According to Mrs. A. Walker in this excerpt from her book Female Beauty, you might want to think about consulting some kind of “medical man.” Take action soon ~ before all of your friends turn away, no longer willing to hear your carefree “whispers of confidence.” We certainly wouldn’t want that to happen!

1840: The Breath

Foul yellow teeth covered with tartar, are not only frightful to the sight, but communicate foetid effluvia to the breath, which is absolutely disgusting. Of all the antidotes to love, a foul breath is the most effectual; for, under the enchantment of a gracious smile, lies a mortifying and insuperable repulse.

No female can be too attentive, or take too much pains, in averting this dreadful calamity, for calamity it really is; the fond husband turns with ill-concealed loathing from the treacherous salute, and the friend who has listened to the whisper of confidence will not again submit herself to the infectious atmosphere. The feeling of disgust is destructive, alike fatal to friendship and to love.

Extreme attention to cleanliness of the teeth and mouth, a regular life, early hours, and wholesome food, can alone preserve the natural purity of the breath.

The Tongue, Throat, &c. In unhealthy persons, a kind of mucus sometimes exists upon the tongue, which ought to be removed, as it covers and destroys the delicacy of the papillae or little eminences which are the organs of taste, and must besides be offensive.

The throat should be gargled every morning with fresh water.

If the breath be in the slightest degree unpleasant, and there is a certainty that it does not arise from the teeth, it must originate from a disordered state of the stomach or of the lungs. Attention to the state of the digestive organs is indespensable in the first case; and the last requires generally the aid of a medical man.

Above all things, it must be remembered that the teeth cannot long continue sound if the diet be unwholesome or the digestion impaired.

It was a custom of the Grecian women, in order to improve this portion of their personal attractions, to hold a piece of myrtle between their teeth. The Roman ladies of our day have still a strong predilecation for the myrtle. But the use of masticatories is a bad practice; and the pure sweetness resulting from health and cleanliness is far more delightful than all the artificial perfumes of the medicinal gums.

Source: Walker, Mrs. A. Female Beauty, as Preserved and Improved by Regimen, Cleanliness and Dress. New York: Scofield and Voorhies, 1840.
~ pp. 199-201 ~