Friday, August 1, 2008

Heat Wave Hasn't Broken, But You're About To?

"Heat wave hasn't broken, but you're about to? Resist the impulse to drown in a cold shower. The cooling effect of a lukewarm or tepid bath lasts. It dilates blood vessels all over so the body can release trapped heat. Soak for half an hour if you can. Walk slowly around the bedroom while you're still wet. Lie down and spray yourself all over with cologne. Think cool thoughts while you air-dry. Use lot of dusting powder."
--Beverly and Vidal Sassoon, A Year of Beauty and Health (1975)

Beverly and Vidal take turns writing sections of their seasonal guide to grooming and fitness. Beverly tends to dole out specific daily advice, while Vidal pontificates on beauty and the fashion industry in general, often slipping into auto-beauty-ography.

Vidal:

"I would like to add a small, totally make chauvinist view here: Smoking is anti-sex. To kiss a beautiful woman, even if she is wearing the most feminine of scents and has the softest skin and moistest lips, is-- if she smokes-- like kissing a little old man. I associate smoker's breath with whiskey old codger's and with my army buddies-- neither group do I kiss. The smoking woman may have come a long way, baby, but it's down the wrong street.
Because Beverly hates the smell of onions, I got her to stop smoking during the day. I kept an onion with me, and whenever she started to smoke a cigarette, I took a big bite of raw onion. She now smokes occasionally in the the evening, but she always uses mouthwash before we kiss goodnight."

For each month of the year, there is a section in the book that helpfully outlines various beauty goals and tasks. This is what Beverly has decreed for today:

"YOUR CHECKLIST AND SCHEDULE FOR AUGUST
First Morning of the Month
Log your vital statistics into your diary in ink. Set your goals for the month as to loss of pounds or inches and gains in other areas, such as proficiency at yoga, say, or using the handheld dryer. Pencil in your goals on the diary page for the last day of the month, and start the program that will help you achieve your goals."

Even if starting any kind of strict new regime was appealing in August (that's what back-to-school autumn is for), I take issue with Beverly's specific suggestions. The form of yoga she recommends is Bikram, or hot yoga (she was an early adopter). I went through a hot yoga phase myself several years ago, mainly because a studio opened right on my block. I loved it for months, but that was in the dead of winter, and when I stopped, the whole time seemed like a hot, industrial-carpeted bad dream-- I did that by choice? And August, the most humid month of all, is no time to learn how to blow-out one's own hair. I know, I know: they probably lived in California, in LA, the magical and seasonless land where everything always seems like a good idea. That isn't where I live.