Friday, July 29, 2011

1920 Rules for Health and Beauty for Girls

Advice for girls by Maude Foote Crow

My mother was born in 1923. By the time she was a teenager in the late 1930s, some rules in this list might have already seemed a bit old-fashioned. Still, many of these rules are still sound advice today.

Bodily Carriage

  • Hold the head erect.
  • Keep the chest high.
  • Hold the abdomen in.
  • Rest the weight of the body on the balls of the feet.
  • Keep this position constantly, by day and by night.
  • When lying down, stretch out; do not curl up.


  • Make a special study of the proper times for exercise and take a normal amount of it at those times.
  • Let nothing induce you to undertake severe bodily work or strain when the body is not in a condition to sustain the strain.
  • When all conditions are right for it, take a good deal of joyous exercise.
  • Learn some systematic exercises and practice them every day.

Correct Breathing

  • Take long breaths of fresh air on rising and frequently through the day.
  • Breathe always through the nose and from the diaphragm.
  • Keep the air in the room fresh by day and by night.
  • Breathe deeply to keep the mind clear, the blood pure, and the spirits buoyant.


  • Let the weight of clothing hang from the shoulders.
  • Have the clothing loose enough to allow free play of the diaphragm in breathing and of the limbs in exercise.
  • Protect the feet and ankles from exposure to wet and cold.
  • Keep the chest well protected, but do not over-wrap the neck.

A girl in "flapper" garb, Moscow, Idaho, 1922.
Image from Wikimedia

Food and Eating

  • Have meals absolutely regularly and at proper intervals.
  • Choose foods adapted to present needs. Study adaptation of foods so as to know what to choose.
  • Drink at least six glasses of pure water daily, between meals.
  • Always think and speak of something pleasant while eating.

Elimination of Waste

  • Free the body from poisonous waste by keeping the bowels active.
  • By keeping the pores of the skin open.
  • By using a great deal of well-planned, vigorous exercise.
  • By general cleanliness.


  • Take a cold tonic sponge or shower bath every day when in good health.
  • Take a warm cleansing bath once or twice a week.
  • Keep the mouth and skin free from dirt and germs.
  • Give perfect care to the hair and the finger-nails.
  • Wash the hands before eating or serving food.
  • Brush the teeth at least twice every day -- on rising and on retiring; after each meal is better still.
  • Avoid gathering or spreading disease germs through any form of contact.

Press photograph of three unknown girls, 1923,
from the National Photo Company Collection
at the Library of Congress.

Amount of Sleep

  • Ten and one-half hours (8:30 to 7:00) for those 10 to 14 years old.
  • Ten hours (9:00 to 7:00) for those 14 to 16 years old.
  • Nine and one-half hours (9:30 to 7:00) for those 16 to 18 years old.
  • Eight hours (10:00-6:00) for those 20 to 30 years old.
  • Lost sleep must invariably be made up.
  • Try to go to sleep happy.


  • When you work, work efficiently; when you rest, rest efficiently; whatever you do, do it with all your might.
  • When resting, relax perfectly; let go.
  • Stop worrying; think of something else; think of something cheerful.
  • Do not yield to impatience or to anger; they shorten life.
  • Think pure and beautiful thoughts; learn the beautiful thoughts of others and say them over till they become your own.
  • Cultivate a well-balanced mind; preserve courage and cheer.

Prevention of Illness or of a Depressed State of Health

  • Study the laws of hygiene and of sanitation.
  • Avoid patent medicines of all kinds.
  • When ill, consult a reliable physician.
  • Prevent illness by following the laws of health and by regular health examinations.

Source: Mabie, Hamilton Wright, Edward Everett Hale, and William Byron Forbush, eds. The Young Folks Treasury Vol. X: Ideal Home Life. New York: The University Society, 1919. Print. This excerpt is from p. 428-430. A footnote states that the article was reprinted from "The American Country Girl" by Martha Foote Crow, published by Frederick A. Stokes and Company, New York.

1920s bride Peggy Fish wearing a satin and net bridal dress
 Image from Wikimedia.


Collagemama said...

Good advice always sounds old-fashioned when you are a teenager!

Anonymous said...

I can still remember our mother having me walk with a book on my head to improve my posture. She did not feel I stood correctly.

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CONTENTMENT: Keep your heart free from hate, your mind from worry, live simply, expect little, give much, sing often, pray always, forget self, think of others and their feelings, fill your heart with love, scatter sunshine. These are the tried links in the golden chain of contentment.
(Author unknown)

IT IS STILL BEST to be honest and truthful; to make the most of what we have; to be happy with simple pleasure; and to be cheerful and have courage when things go wrong.
(Laura Ingalls Wilder, 1867-1957)

Thanks for reading.