How to Be Attractive

How to be attractive coverHow to be attractive
1951, 2d ed., rev. and enl.

Submitter: The original edition was from 1948. Our copy does not have the cover shown – the library assistant who discovered this brilliant work (and read it cover to cover) found the cover on the web. We were struck by the fact that, for the most part, being attractive in this volume means being attractive to men (although there is that token glance at being attractive to women–but not that way, of course). The three-page discourse on what do to if a man becomes “fresh” (do some serious soul-searching and blame yourself) is particularly revealing. We were also charmed by the photograph of the woman moisturizing her hands (this photo was part of a two-page spread on the subject)–the child looks like he’s plotting serial murder. We are an academic library, and are happy to be weeding this little volume from our collection.

Holly: These self-care books for women in the 50’s just kill me. The woman on the cover looks like a manikin or a Stepford Wife or something. And submitter is right about the first picture below. All I can think is “It puts the lotion on its skin.”

Smooth hands

As old as she looks

women must like you too

how to attract men

how to attract men


  1. Was there author info? Joan Bennett was an actress and that looks like her. The cover photo was probably taken from one of her movies. She was from a distinguished acting family and, along with her sister Constance, quite a famous actress in her heyday, which might be why she either got to do this book. She ended her career playing the matriarch on Dark Shadows.

  2. Was she friends with Barbara Britton who is depicted demonstrating the complicated task of hand moisturizing?

  3. Dear god, the advice on dealing with a man who gets fresh is hair-raising. This definitely falls into the historically-fascinating-but-hopelessly-outdated-for-general-use category.

    1. My how we rationalize how fucked up and dysfunctional we are in current times. Women were much happier then — better groomed and attired. I’d gladly go back in time to that period when men were men, and women knew their place was on a pedestal, not working like a mule for the privilege of being a baby mama.

      1. How intensely shallow you sound Libertine – better groomed and attired made us happier? Men were men? Kind of vague and sounds like you are an idiot. Working like a mule? Parenting is hard work, whoever does it, when ever they did it, and in the 50s a woman was expected to do ALL of it and all the housework. So no, she was certainly NOT on a pedestal, unless she was the trophy wife of a very wealthy man.

        1. Pedestals are for objects, not people. But then, someone who assumes that women’s happiness stems from grooming and attire alone is not someone who thinks of women as people. Let the old fart pass into obscurity while the rest of us keep moving forward.

  4. Just yesterday, a customer asked me for books by actress Joan Bennett. This particular one wasn’t available to our library system. But Claritza, I believe the well-moisturized Barbara Britton was the co-writer of Bennett’s autobiography, which I did order for our customer.

  5. Ooh, guys — another Rifftrax recommendation: ‘Constance Bennett’s Daily Beauty Rituals’ — this is a short film of the author’s sister schilling for her line of beauty products. Think of it as a ProActiv infomercial before ProActiv existed.

    The short was so creepy and odd that I looked Constance up on Wikipedia and also found Joan, who apparently played least-popular March sister Amy in the 1933 ‘Little Women’ and wound up on ‘Dark Shadows’.

    It looks as though both ladies had oodles of marriages and affairs and scandals. Meanwhile, their other sister Barbara birthed Morton Downey, Jr. into an unsuspecting world.

    All in all, this family would make for a great made-for-TV movie….There’s some kind of ‘Baby Jane’ angle here, I just know it!

    1. Yeah, as I posted above, I watched Joan on Dark Shadows and she was fairly creepy on it, as were most of the cast on it. Soaps are where some actors start their careers, some end their careers, and others simply make their careers. My mother filled me in about Joan and Constance while we watched old movies on TV in the ’60s and ’70, including many of theirs. They were from a generational acting family, and while I’m sure there are plenty of juicy stories, enough for a good TV movie, I don’t think there’s quite the drama of the Joan Fontaine/Olivia DeHavilland feud among the Bennett sisters.

      1. Yes, Shelley S., you are so right about soaps. I grew up on ‘All My Children’ and ‘One Life to Live’ (R.I.P.) in the 80’s and 90’s. And so many of the actors I first saw in those soaps wound up having major careers! It makes me sad that daytime drama seems to have become a thing of the past now…it was a great place for young actors to learn their craft and a nice, steady paychecks for older actors who had outlived their film careers.

        Meanwhile, I sooo want a Lifetime movie of the Bennett sisters. Can we get Tori Spelling involved somehow?

        1. To this day I can’t see an image of Nathan Fillion without thinking Joey on “One Life To Live” 😀

        2. The first soap I watched was Edge of Night. So much intrigue on that show! Dark Shadows was my second soap. After that, I started watching All My Children, Days of Our Lives, Somerset, Another World, The Doctors, General Hospital….

          We definitely need a Lifetime movie about the Bennett sisters!

  6. The utterly creepy excuses for rapist are spine-chilling. On a far more shallow note, they were nuts on heavy pancake makeup in those days, so I don’t think the makeup tips would be much use.

  7. No more hand-wringing — Barbara Britton died in 1980 at age 79. Son Ted (b. 1947) was an actor (Little House on the Prairie among his credits) and, according to Wikipedia, is now a yoga teacher.

  8. P.S. A great task for a literary/pop culture sleuth: finding out who ghost-wrote these beauty/advice books.

  9. So when I walk down a street and some man gets “fresh” and shouts “nice ass!” I should do some soul searching and figure out how, exactly, I brought this on and should consider his temperature and needs. Got it. Take that, you Hollaback girls!

    1. I can’t believe the author chose to use “fresh” as a replacement term for “sexually violent”. How in hell does that even work. But we must make sure the poor mens fee fees are protected, so don’t ever use negative terms like “violent” to describe one of them. Remember ladies, his pride is more important than your well being!


      1. The sexually violent were “mashers”, men who “got fresh” were just… I don’t know, wannabe mashers? Anyway, as frasersherman mentions, the term was universal in use and understanding for decades.

Comments are closed.