Tuesday, October 25, 2011

A Beauty/Fashion Book That Was Ahead of Its Time

One of my favorite YouTube beauty gurus, Emily Eddington, asked the question on Facebook today: "What is your favorite beauty-related book?"

The book that immediately popped into my head is one I haven't read in many years. In fact, I was probably in my teens when I checked Pull Yourself Together: How to Look Marvelous on Next to Nothing out of my local library.

I was always going on self-improvement kicks, and I remember this book as being a very down-to-earth, reader-friendly, practical treatise on beauty and fashion that was way ahead of its time.

The book was written by Barbara Johns Waterston, who, interestingly enough, was married to actor Sam Waterston at the time.

This reader wrote on Amazon.com:

"The paper back version of this book has been on my bookshelf since 1968 when I was a teenager. When I found the hard copy version I had to have it for my collection. The tips, advice and wisdom in this book never go out of style. If you have a copy of this book, keep it forever. If you don't have a copy, try and find one. It's a simple but great read and it is definetely (sp) a motivator."

Marlo Thomas as "That Girl" in the era of "Pull Yourself Together"

Unfortunately, if you try to buy a used copy of this book, it can run you over 100 dollars, and the cheapest soft-cover copy I found online was $64.00. It's apparently not in my local library system, either.

I did find a few tidbits about it online, though. Simon Doonan talked about it in a 2000 New York Observer article:

"In 1967, Ms. Waterston wrote the Mein Kampf of self-help books, Pull Yourself Together Or, How To Look Marvelous On Next To Nothing . This book is bursting with delightful bossiness, accusations and forthright solutions, and I strongly advise that you get yourself a second-hand copy..."

I even found a Facebook fan page for Waterston--titled, of course, "Pull Yourself Together"--where participants share how they got copies of the book, and quotes from the book.

Here are a few:

(from p. 47 of the book) "I have this friend Marra, who - in spite on her very fine figure, her warm personality, her zest for living, her taste in clothes, her quick wit and intelligence - had a repellent quality about her.
She never looked clean. In fact, she looked as though she smelled."
(from p. 108) "Beauty is beautiful, let's face it. Otherwise why have artists been wasting their time all these centuries? Beauty is uplifting. When I see a greasy-faced, greasy-haired girl walking down the street I feel squirmy. I imagine my scalp is itching. But if I see a freshly scrubbed young thing, all clean and neat, I feel uplifted, just as a smile is always more uplifting than a frown."

Another edition of the book

So, yeah. I remember loving that book as a young girl, and using its down-to-earth wisdom as a tool to help develop my personal style. Maybe someday I'll get to read it again!

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