26 May 2010

Keeping Up Appearances

I've talked a fair bit about the food we've been eating and the cleaning I've been doing, but I haven't really revealed all that much about what I've been doing about the 50s housewife edict of being beautiful and showing pride in her appearance. So, here we go!

A friend was reading through the list of things I do for the 50s Housewife Experiment and asked if I really do the following:

Yes, I really do, despite really not being a morning person. The bow-and-lipstick look on me is less sweet and darling and more What Ever Happened to Baby Jane. You can see what I mean from this picture Patrick cheekily took of me one morning while I was preparing his orange juice.
What a vision. That is the face that launches my husband's ship to work everyday. Thankfully, my face comes with a side of bacon and eggs.

And, yes, I've also been putting on make-up even when I don't plan to go anywhere. You have to understand that I'm not really the make-up-y type. Sure, it's fun to play with and get glammed up, but if I didn't have time before going out, I didn't think anything of leaving the house bare-faced. But make-up is really just a small part of the beauty regime.

One 50s-era magazine suggested a weekly schedule for beauty and hygiene. I have to admit that I didn't really follow that all very well last week. Because of that, I opted to dedicate the afternoon yesterday toward glamourization. I gave myself a 50s facial (which involved cleansing, "ironing" my face with ice, an egg white mask and moisturizing), tweezing, a scalp massage, a nap (dreamy!) and going out for a manicure and a pedicure. I had a gift certificate for a local nail bar so I was free of feeling that cheapo 50s housewife guilt. And there's a very silly pose of me to show you the outcome, complete with my stubby hand trying to still my pounding martyr heart from all the self-indulgence. Admittedly, the look is little more 40s than 50s, but I'm not willing to set my hair with a home perm, so there you go.

I mentioned before that I wasn't sure how I was going to deal with the whole wash-your-hair-once-a-week craziness of the 50s. Thanks to a suggestion from Paige, I tried Batiste Dry Shampoo Spray. Wow! I haven't washed my hair in the shower since girdle day and not once have I been compared to Nick Nolte's mugshot. Amazing!

At the end of the day, the 50s housewife used cold cream to remove her make-up and clean her face. I happen to have some, so I've been using it daily. It's just like breakfast - greasy. Let me put it this way, if you run out of shortening (and following the 50s diet, you will), just grab a jar of Pond's Cold Cream and carry on with your recipe. It gets the make-up off, but then you spend another five minute getting it off ("That's what she said." - Michael Scott).

But that isn't all. The mindful 50s housewife ensures she is the vision of glamour before retiring for the night. You see (and sorry for the scan quality - this magazine printed close to the binding):

The bedroom is not strictly for sleeping? Ah, right. Eating.

Arf, arf. No, I do understand what they mean. According to my guide, a wife needs to consider her beauty at all times while maintaining a little mystery about how she achieves such a look. It went on to explain all the things she should do in the bathroom. And then ...

I'm about as mysterious as a Hardy Boys novel read back to front, so getting prepped for bed in the bathroom was definitely out of the ordinary for me. In fact, one night while I was getting "bright and clean and delicious" Patrick bellowed, "are you masturbating in there or something?"

Well, geez, not anymore.

Anyhoo - back to Day 9 of the 50s Housewife Experiment ... Since my day was so busy with the hard work of looking beautiful and shopping for groceries, I decided it was the ideal time to break out the 50s housewife's greatest secret weapon - the TV dinner.

While Swanson now carries contemporary dishes for the sophisticated modern palate - like chicken nuggets and ribs - I wanted to go classic so I picked up a turkey and a Salisbury steak dinner. The biggest differences between the current and 50s versions are that there isn't a soup serving, the dessert is primarily made of corn starch and everything is cooked in plastic rather than tin. Mmm, mmm.
For a treat, we ate them by the TV while we watched an episode of I Love Lucy. At first, Patrick was disgusted (he opted for Salisbury steak) but a few bites later, the Swanson chemicals flavour kicked in and he was lapping it up.

My, that Swanson made my day so easy! So fast to prepare and clean-up was a breeze! Why, I could go for manis and pedis every day if Swanson was on the menu. That said, I'd also be hassled with funeral arrangements for Patrick on account of him getting some nutrition-related disease, so in the long run, it's probably better that I cook the rest of our meals, as gross and time-consuming as some of them may be.

Speaking of which, I best get on with the day. Catch up with you later!

Image Sources: Avon advertisement, circa 1958 and The Bride's Reference Book


Unknown 10:07 am, May 26, 2010  

Oh God, Jennifer! You are killing me! This is hilarious. Maybe someone should send a link to the SNL folks. I bet they could use a writer with your sense of humour!

Jen 12:15 pm, May 26, 2010  

Haha, my mom used to use Pond's Cold Cream, and that was what she used when I was a kid to get my dance recital make-up off. Yes, I know the torture. Ugh. Thank God for Mary Kay make-up remover!

You look so sweet in that glammed up picture though!

Northern Living Allowance 4:18 pm, May 26, 2010  

I am so loving this series!! You & Patrick must be having so much fun (outside of the food, the neverending glamourizing, Swanson TV dinners...) More! More!

Foxy Renard 10:36 pm, May 26, 2010  

I have to say, I agree with the prettying up! I had no idea "pretty up" was a 1950s term, as I regularly use it. I APPROVE, 1950s!

- The girl who, in probably two decades, has NEVER EVER left the house without prettying up, and who in fact hasn't gone a day without doing so, even just at home with nothing to do, and even at the cottage, other than the day after her kid was born.

dinah34 12:04 am, May 27, 2010  

this has become my new favourite blog to read. i wait for it every day now! keep up the good 50's times.

when will you venture to the malt shop or diner?

Jen 9:05 am, May 27, 2010  

Thanks again for the comments, people!

I think you are biased, dear Joe, but thank you all the same! :)

Jen: I oddly like the smell of Pond's Cold Cream - I just don't feel so clean after having used it!

Northern: Thank you! Yes, each day is sort of a new adventure. Plus, I never tell Patrick what I'm making for dinner, so it's kind of a surprise for him each day.

Foxy: I know - even when I saw you hours after you gave birth to Ewan you had make-up on. Clearly the 50s housewife approves of you.

Dinah: Aw, thanks! No malt shops in our future, but I hope we do have one outing shortly .... :)

Unga Punga 10:22 pm, May 27, 2010  

I'm a pretty-up-er too! The world is easier to look at with mascara firmly in place.

Seriously though, this whole series is freaking fantastic, haha. Maybe you should try life as a vegetarian vampire next?

Sandy,  1:06 am, February 16, 2011  

I was doing some research on Donna Reed and came across your site. I LOVE IT!!!! I have been on my blackberry now for almost two hours! You and your husband are adorable. How cute he went along with this. I am obsessed with this era. Great job!!!!!!!!

Jen 2:42 pm, February 16, 2011  

Thanks so much, Sandy! Yep, my husband is quite a doll. I'm a lucky girl. Good luck with your Donna Reed research!

Susan,  8:41 pm, May 31, 2011  

I never ever comment...but I have to tell you, your 50s housewife experiment had me laughing out loud and I didn't want it to end!! I don't remember how I came upon your site, but I love it. I'm a 50-ish wife and mom from VA in the US...your site is now on my "must read" list every day. Thank you!!

Anonymous,  5:35 pm, September 08, 2012  

I loved reading your 50's wife experiments! I found a 1951 home economics book in an old shed when I was younger. You would be amazed at how much the advice in those old books can still be relevant today (aside from the dietary suggestions). I referred to that book many times during my marriage, and today my daughter and I read it (and sometimes laugh at it) together.

Your collection of books is fascinating. I found the Searchlight Homemaking Guide on Amazon. Which book of yours had the morning stint in it?

Your bow in your hair is cute along with your "I-don't-want-to-be-up-this-early" face! ;-)

Betty Martin 11:42 am, October 07, 2014  

Laughed my arse off at this...thanks so much.
I think of my mother, who gave birth to 3 babies in the 50s. Somehow, I don't see it all working. I don't know how they did it.

Liz,  3:29 pm, December 26, 2014  

That pic of you early in the morning with a bow in your hair is priceless. Very funny!

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Need words? I'm a Toronto-based freelance writer who injects great ones into blogs, websites, magazines, ads and more. So many services, one lovely Jen (with one 'n').

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