Gertrude’s Diary #82 – Frankly Feminine

I was delighted recently to receive an edition of Frankly Feminine, published in 1965 by The Grolier Society of London. This is a book which tells the modern woman everything she needs to know about modern life in the modern world. From tips on how to care for your fur coat, to how to explore Venice and Versailles, Frankly Feminine is 550 pages of advice that will astound and amaze.

I especially liked the chapter on beauty – this picture accompanied the section on hair styling.

As soon as this is over I'm going to see my dealer.

And just what is that white fabric surrounding her? Is it a kind of daisy costume? Or a frighteningly overgrown collar? Either way, that model must have some pretty pressing financial problems to have accepted that assignment. “I’ll do anything I tell you, anything. I just need the money.”

Or perhaps she’s an undercover MI5 agent; note the secretive smile.  And that hair appears to have been fashioned into some sort of weapon. She could definitely put an eye out with it.

It’s a little hard to read, but you may be able to make out the first line of the text accompanying this next photo. “An elegant woman knows how to use a mirror.” And the valium bottle too, by the look of it.

I used to set fires, but my husband got me these little pills and now I'm just fine.

The chapter on how to accept the gift of love was – I thought – a little bit racy for general publication. The accompanying illustration is below. Make of it what you will.

phwah!  get an eyeful of that erection.

The book is in fact peppered with advice on how to achieve successful heterosexuality, except for the section on hats, wherein it states the following: “A good hat should never be in the wardrobe, but always out and about. Good hats may have a short life but it should be a gay one.”  Quite.

Another entry regarding sexuality stated that if junior is masturbating you should make sure his clothes are not too tight and that he has plenty of other hobbies.

Some of the entries seemed more than a little quaint. Learning to Leave was a page of vague advice that ran in the following order: How to Leave a Man, How to Leave Home, and How to Leave a Party. I was horrified to learn that all these years I’ve been leaving parties the wrong way; I always thought you drank and took drugs until you passed out and didn’t go home until the next morning when you woke up on the floor of the hosts’ kitchen with your head in a cupboard. Come to think of it, that’s also the way I ended up leaving home and several men that I can think of.

Despite my general sense of derision at Frankly Feminine, the chapter on careers was frankly frightening, and should remind us how far things have come since second wave feminism. I leave you with the list, unabridged and unexpurgated:

Nurse, Midwife, Physiotherapist, Radiographer, Occupational Therapist, Speech Therapist, Teaching, Librarianship, The WRNS, The WRAC, The WRAF, Secretary, Receptionist, The Bank, The BBC, Public Relations, Fashion Model, Fashion Artist, Dress Designer, Journalist, Photographer, Job At Sea (“…for the adventurous girl!”), and Air Stewardess.

Good grief.

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