No More Alibis, by Sylvia of Hollywood (1935)

I got this as a present last night (OMG best.present.ever.) and am already entranced by the absolute sadism of Sylvia. Check this out:

from The "In-Between" Figure
"In-Betweens" have worse problems than the fat or skinny ones, who know their figures are wrong. They don't need anybody to tell them so. But you "in-betweens" often get the idea you're all right. And you aren't. Just take a good look at yourself. No, you aren't fat. And you aren't thin. But look at that chest. It's too flat. your ankles are too thick. Your abdomen sticks out. I haven't space to tell you your other defects. But I bet they are there–and plenty!

from Keep That Perfect Figure!
… you fat babies must always watch your diet. And watch those scales daily just as a scare. Now that your proportions are right, your scales will warn you the minute they begin to go up. That minute, back on the reducing diet for you.

on liquids:
Fatty people must not drink too much water. Two glasses a day are plenty with the liquids I've given you. Too much water enlarges the stomach. …

on foundation garments
I don't believe in trying to hide bulges and bumps of fat by tight corsets. As a matter of fact, they are never hidden, just shifted from one place to another, in most cases making you look worse. The only sensible thing is to get rid of those bumps. Don't misunderstand me. I don't mean that you should go waddling into a room without any corset. I'd call that stupidity.

on swimming
Remember, too, that swimming builds you up. It's wonderful for you thin ones. But it won't reduce you fat ones. For you, sun baths in moderation and cold plunges in fresh or salt water are splendid.

on posture
If you think I am too hard on you or exaggerate, just go to a museum and take a look at the early Egyptian figures. Notice their sitting posture. You will see there wasn't a slumping abdomen in a tombful, and that many thousands of years before Christ, the Egyptians used Sylvia's methods.

on relations between the sexes
I am aiming to please the husbands, too. I don't want them to have to sit across a table from a woman with a mean disposition and hungry, wolf-like expression in her eye. It pays the nationally advertised beauties to take care of themselves because their living depends on their looks. And more and more, every woman's living depends on her appearance. We all have to earn our living one way or another. And men are getting more particular and critical about women every day.

Oh, I could quote Sylvia all day! But I'll stop now. More later.

0 thoughts on “No More Alibis, by Sylvia of Hollywood (1935)

  1. Wow. Yes she’s a mean bitch but I can’t wait to read more. “More and more EVERY woman’s living depends on her looks.”Dang!I’m getting a strong mental image of Sylvia of Hollwoods’ looks and I’m skeered..kelly


  2. Oh My God, I WANT THAT BOOK! :: does Zero Mostel-like dance ::Is it a reprint, or an oldie someone (very clever) found for you?Please quote more. Re: the liquids thing, I recall that Colette also mentions in a story from the 20s or 30s that women must restrict liquids because drinking water bloats one. Apparently this was an idea that was widespread at that time!


  3. Jonquil:You thank the good fairy every day for those nice sturdy ankles. Thin ankles sprain at a passing breeze. Sprains heal more slowly than breaks, and once you’ve sprained them, you’ll keep spraining them. And the oft-sprained ankle develops strange, permanent swellings.Oh, and if you are at all self-conscious about those ankles, lay in a supply of pretty boots (which is what I wear with my dresses and my easily sprained ankles).


  4. I found this book in a used bookstore. I bought it because I thought the intro was funny, but now that I’m half way through, I’m horrified by Sylvia. Talk about being harmful to the general public!


  5. I ADORE your blog and am full of admiration for your sewing skills. I’m doing some research on Sylvia of Hollywood and laughed good and hard at your blog entry and comments. I am just about to start the Sylvia of Hollywood reducing diet published in a 1932 edition of Photoplay and will be writing about it in my blog http://www.silverscreensuppers.blogspot.comI have PICTURES of Sylvia if you are interested!Lya x


  6. Dahlinks,A dear, dahlink friend gave me a copy of Sylvia’s “Pull Yourself Together, Baby!” from 1936 about 10 years ago for my birthday. I love the colon cleanse advise and all her beauty tips, babies!She, appearantly, was the personal trainer to Norma Shearer and Billie Burke as well.Dan A. Chicago


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