[ Newspaper throwback ] How can I keep thin?

Before I begin penning the article, I have to admit that I have been thinking for a while to post this, since weight is a much-discussed issue these days. I, too, cringe behind my desk when I see yet another young girl starve herself to death to achieve the much wanted thigh gap. And with every year passing by, the younger the girls are, that fall victim through the unhealthy looking glass called media. It leaves many a girl frustrated, as a thigh gap is not physically possible for most people and the obsessed dieting gets into the extremes. I am not someone that will tell you "hey you know, you might be overweight, but don't diet cause big is also beautiful." No I won't say that. But -before you curse me- I do think that a more voloptuous body can be just as beautiful as a thin body and vice versa, but what I think is even more beautiful ... is a healthy body. And that is what we should strive for. Health, vitality, energy and, hey if you feel good in your skin ... then who cares if you are thick, thin, tall, petite or whatever! As long as you are healthy! In the end I don't think the article below does any harm and it's an interesting insight in how Hollywood stayed thin back in the day. Cause believe me, weight was just as much an issue as it is now and this article proves!

Jean Harlow exercising

How can I keep thin?
How movie maidens keep their slender figures

 © Written by Donna Risher, 1936

Eversince Lillian Gish's maid, back in the silent days, followed her mistress around the studio lot with a bunch of raw carrots in her hand to keep Lillian from getting fat, and Ethel Barrymore gnawed eigtheen days on grapefruit for the same reason, the over-weight phobia has grown among Hollywood actresses until it now looms as large as a dab of gravy on a white shirt bosom.

In fact, so weight-conscious has everybody become in this land of celluloid that all life's problems seem to hinge upon the fact that the body must be kept slender. The need amounts to a veritable phobia or fear which has taken possession of every studio player from the youngest to the oldest.

This desire for the body beautiful has gone to such extremes that it has even led to a new trend in conversation. Time was when friends meeting in the studio greeted eachother with a "Hello" and "how are you?" Not so today. The lots ring with, "Gee kid, you've lost a few pounds," or the dismal reverse, "Better be careful. You're eating again."

Ginger Rogers doing her favorite sport Tennis

And what do the cinema maidens do to maintain their slender figures? How do they get that way in those slap-stick gowns in which only a two-by-four may enter? What, for instance, makes Glenda Farrell, who weights 110 pounds, look slimmer than Mrs. John Public of Redlands, Calif., who carries the same amount of poundage? The answer is -- what don't they do?

A peep into the studio dining rooms tells the story. Here is mute evidence of the silent struggle going on between want and don't. Begin with blonde Glenda.

In her attractive lunch nook Glenda is facing her daily diet but she's playing a game, she says, to make herself like it. She has ordered the studio chef to decorate and disguise her "must" rations to make them look like "something else." The dish actually consists of boiled carrots, celery and turnips but they are dolled to look like a meat dish. But Glenda isn't fooled. "No matter what I do," she opines with a sigh, "they taste just like their own sweet garden selves." After a few days of this make-believe food, the blonde actress will fall back upon her daily cups of coffee, her regular weight-reducing stand-by.

Leila Hyams and Johnny Weissmuller

Maureen O'Sullivan, on the other hand, will try out any recipe or menu recommended at any time by anybody. Asparagus forms the base of every meal, but when hungry she weakens and indulges in a roll of white bread. Mary Carlisle attributes her good figure to vegetable soup without vegetables. Jean Harlow goes in for lamb chops. Verree Teasdale's diet of tea and crackers is known to be effective, while Carole Lombard risks a chicken sandwich for lunch. Gracie Allen indulges in on one soft boiled egg and one salty cracker while Dolores del Rio takes a chance on a glass of water and a small piece of sweet cake.

But the eating part is only the beginning in the reducing business. Exercises come next -- badminton, tennis, bicycling, swimming and polo. Unlike the average citizen who goes in for sports because he likes to play, actresses must exercise their muscles for business reasons. They must scientifically take off pounds in the right places.

Following the physical work outs come the body massages. This is accomplished by Hollywood's many experts in this line who have flocked here from all the corners of the globe and who are getting rich off the hoard of actresses who demand their services. These body treatments are considered important, not only because they get the results desired but because many of the stars are too indolent to exercise as they should. 

All things considered, it's a sorry business -- this job of keeping down weight. It must be gone through day after day and year after year. There is no let-up. Slim and trim these girls must be. They are resigned to the hardships, they say, and have learned to accept with equinimity their standing order, "no food with my meals, please."


  1. Stellar post, dear.
    I have seen and posted something similar, so I'm quite familiar with the extremes some starlets went to, jst in order to "keep up" with the fashionalbe "slender" look. I found mine on the pages of Photoplay magazine (if you care to take a look, here's the link: http://ruzicastapinkidusica.blogspot.com/2013/10/the-weight-of-world-to-diet-or-not-to.html)
    This diet obssesed world has taken victims even then , the writer of the article claims: "Diet! It has put one world famous star in her grave" - thinking about Barbara LaMarr.

    All in all - both terrifying and mesmerizing story.
    Thank you for sharing it Lindsay!


    1. It was my pleasure dear Marija! Yours is a very interesting article and, as I said underneath it, I have saved the pages. I hope you don't mind! xxx

  2. Oh my word, could you imagine someone greeting you by saying "Looks like you've been eating again". That thought sends a shiver of terror up my spine! I agree with you completely that health trumps weight and that we should focus on more on that than starving ourselves to be a size zero (which truthfully, I wouldn't want to be - I love have some great womanly curves and my husband adores that I do too, so it's a win-win for me).

    ♥ Jessica

    1. It does that to me too, I cannot imagine you would greet someone like that!

  3. Thanks for an interesting article about weight control among the stars. I don't get wanting a gap between your thighs. When I was a teen that would have been seen as being too thin. If we could all just focus on being healthy!

    1. It was my pleasure lynneferd! Health is much more important than aiming for a thin body. Sadly, that is not the case with many girls.

  4. Excellent article, dear Lindsay! Can you believe in Portugal, most of the times people greet you like that "you're bigger, need to be carful" or "you're too skinny". Like it was most important how much you weight. It truly upsets me when people do that, instead of saying "great to see you! How are you?". Lets eat healthy, do physical exercise and feel happy! ;-)

    Miss Beta xx

    1. That's absolutely terrible. I know a few people who do it, too. But usually I make something of the same remark, like "Oh yes I gained weight, but I just noticed you have grown terribly old." But I don't want to do that, cause in some way it makes me the same as them.


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