Have you ever wanted to look like a top model? Eileen Ford, founder of the Ford Modeling Agency, believes that you can if you follow the guidelines she presents in her Book of Model Beauty. I found this book while weeding, and it offers tons of tips for aspiring models and also for women who simply want to look their best. Ford gives readers advice on all things health and beauty related, including exercise, diet, and beauty regimens. Despite the book’s advanced age (it was published in 1968), 21st-century women would find some of Ford’s information useful. Some of it. There are also some things in here that I’m not so sure about, especially when it comes to Ford’s advice about exercise. These moves may have been popular back in the 60s, and they may actually be based on solid principles of physical fitness. Who knows? All I know is that there’s a lot of hitting involved.
To get hips into shape: "In a sitting position, legs stretched out in front, hands in back for support, lift your hips off the floor. Twist to the left, pounding the floor with your left hip as hard as you can. Now doe the same with the right hip, twisting to the right. As you learn to do this exercise, you will pick up speed – the more the better. Here we go, turn left, pound, turn right, pound, back to left…" (51). Sounds like a good way to bruise or break something to me.
To mold and strengthen calves: “Sit on the floor, legs separated about six inches. Bend your knees and draw back your heels up to the hips, lean back on your hands. Slap knees and calves together so that you can feel them tingle. This should be done 100 times a day – fifty in the morning and another 50 at night.” (70). Ouch. How this is supposed to work your calves, I have no idea.
For slim thighs: “This time you’re going to give your thighs a ‘beating’ by slapping them with your open palms. In standing position, bend forward and slap thighs with your palms using both hands and concentrating on one thigh at a time. Slap, slap, slap, both sides, then one side with both hands. Be brisk with your slaps – no wishy-washy little taps here. Keep doing this until your hands are tired. This will bring up your circulation!” (77). I kid you not, these are the exact words as they are printed in the book, and the author was dead serious!
For toned arms: “Flat on your back, place fingertips lightly on shoulders, elbows by your side. Raise elbows high and slap your arms down hard. Repeat several times. Then with fingertips still on shoulders, move elbows out so that the undersides of the arms touch the floor. Slap them on the floor.” (87).
To be fair, there are plenty of exercises in the book that have obvious merit. In addition to thigh slapping and hip pounding, Ford instructs readers to do squats and lunges to strengthen and tone legs, for example. She also encourages using barbells and doing pushups. But I’m afraid it isn’t enough to save this outdated book from the weed pile.
Source: Ford, Eileen. Eileen Ford's Book of Model Beauty. New York, Trident Press, 1968.