Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Angela Human

After I mentioned I've been looking for the original quote about greeting one's husband dressed only in Saran Wrap, a couple readers suggested the answer might be found in 1963's Fascinating Womanhood. I already owed a copy(surprised?) but hadn't read it in years. No luck here with the shrink wrap, but juicy.
Much like The Total Woman, this book offers a way out of being a frustrated, nagging shrew and into your true role as a warm, submissive, Stepford Wife. The introduction promises you'll learn:

"How to obtain those things in life which mean so much-- things you are justified in having and for which you are dependent upon your husband, and how to add charm and love to your marriage by doing so."

And perhaps more importantly:
"How to be attractive, even adorable when you are angry."

Not sure I've ever achieved that, though I have been told that I'm beautiful when I cry. Don't ever say that to someone when you are the one who has caused the tears. Anyway.
Fascinating Womanhood relies on combining strict belief in the Bible with wisdom gleaned from characters like Thackeray's Amelia, from Vanity Fair, "a kind, fresh, smiling, artless, tender little domestic goddess, whom men are inclined to worship."

Author Helen B. Andelin recommends that women cultivate a personality of "childlikeness." The way to remain adorable when angry, it turns out, is to stamp one's little foot, and shake one's little curls like a toddler. That way, anger is vented... with cuteness. If one must cry, it is to be done not with deep emotion, but in an exaggerated sputter, again, like a toddler, so that one's husband is charmed into comforting.

Mrs. Andelin clarifies her method with this chart of the ideal woman, Angela Human, who possesses all the best qualities of people and of angels. (Click to enlarge.) If becoming more angelic seems a daunting task, start with little things like lipstick:
"Men are not opposed to artificial allurements if it makes the woman appear more alive and healthy. In fact, your attention to these details only indicates to him your efforts to please him. Eye make-up and lipstick especially help to make the face appear bright and fresh which is the reason they were created-- to charm men."

Or this sweetly deceptive little project:

"A girl who had been doing the manly chores took her first step towards proving her dependency by the following: She attached a paper cup dispenser to the wall upside down. When her husband came home he said, 'Say, this isn't on right! Why did you mount it upside down?' Then she said, 'Oh, how do you tell which is right side up?' He immediately took out the screw driver and mounted it right.'

At least one person in that scenario is a huge sucker.
Fascinating Womanhood sparked a whole "movement" that is still going strong. Helen and her disciples teach classes around the world in the ways of Angela Human, who incidentally would never compromise herself by appearing wrapped in sticky plastic. Still looking.