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“Simple exercises for the figure” March 31, 2014

Posted by Jenny in history, Lifestyle, memoir.
Tags: , , , ,

ShirtwaistsMy maternal grandmother, Beatrice Grieb Johnstone, grew up in the suburbs of Philadelphia. When she passed away, my mother found among her belongings a diary she kept at the age of 16. It was a hardbound volume with five printed lines beneath each date, clearly intended for the jottings of a society lady, produced by the John Wanamaker department store.

Grandma’s diary entries had much to do with music lessons, ice skating, “rough-housing” with her cousins, and bringing a lizard to school to cause a commotion. She grew bored with the diary by September and apparently did not try it again the next year.

The Wanamaker Diary featured a pithy saying for each day, such as “Glass, china and reputation are easily cracked and not well mended.” Many pages were filled with advertisements, and other pages contained short articles about topics ranging from “The Value of Archery” to “Theory of Nerve Vibrations” to “The Hygiene of Travel.”

Beatrice Grieb

Beatrice Grieb

Here is an article titled “Simple Exercises For the Figure.”

A sensible means of reducing the number of inches at the waist, thus achieving slimness without compression, is to spend a few minutes in deep nasal breathing before an open window. Walk round the room stepping high, first with the right leg and then with the left.

Walk round the room with the arms stretching up as high as possible, and working one after the other as though progressing along the rungs of an imaginary ladder laid horizontally near the ceiling. The walking must be done on the tips of the toes, so that the whole body is kept at full stretch. Once round a fair-sized room will be enough of this at a time.

An elegant poise may be obtained, as well as a beneficial effect on the nervous system, by raising the leg sideways as high as it will go while standing perfectly still on the other foot. Repeat on each side alternately a dozen times.

Artists have accepted the Greek proportions as those of the ideal figure, and, according to this model, a woman’s height when fully attained should be 5 feet 5 inches; her waist should measure 24 inches; the bust under the arms 34 inches; and over the arms 43 inches. The circumference of the upper arm should be 13 inches; of the wrist 6 inches. The thighs should measure 25 inches, the calves 14 1/2 inches, the ankles 8 inches each. And the weight of this ideal figure should be 138 pounds.

Philadelphia soap


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