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Vintage Secrets – Hollywood Diet and Fitness

January 13, 2015

Hollywood Fitness 1

Over the last week I’ve been on a diet, something I’ve not really done before however I felt like I needed to lose a couple of pounds. I’ve been pretty sensible and limited my calories and carbs. I’ve not gone for a crazy fad diet or limited myself too much, unlike some of the women featured in todays book review. The book in question is Vintage Secrets – Hollywood Diet and Fitness, a fantastic guide to the food and exercise regimes inflicted on the actresses of the silver screen from the 1920s to 60s.

The book works its way through the history of the 20th century diet looking at the ways some of Hollywood’s most famous actresses kept their figures in keeping with the weight limits in their contracts and the desired aesthetics of the time. The way women’s bodies are supposed to look has changed as readily as the shapes and fashions of clothing. From the boyish rake like figures of the 20s to the perfect hourglass of the fifties and this book talks us though the sometimes drastic methods that were used to achieve ‘perfection’.

Hollywood Fitness 2

I found this book so fascinating that I couldn’t put it down and read it in two sittings. The book tells the story of diet and fitness though descriptions, meal plans and expert opinions as well as through photographs and articles from the time. What struck me was how things really haven’t changed. Many women’s magazines today are still obsessed with celebrity bodies and the latest weight loss methods and it was exactly the same 80 years ago. We are still aspiring to look like famous women however it is clear from reading this book that they struggled to maintain their perfect figures too.

Hollywood Fitness 3

I’ve read a lot of books on fashion in the 20th Century, and reading this book really gave me a further insight into the social history of women. Having an understanding of the clothes women wore really put the book into context. The book is really well written and gives a frightening snapshot into the world of the Hollywood studios and the strict rules that actresses had to live by. If they went over the allowed weight, dietitians and fitness experts were brought in to help get them into shape. Crazy diets like the ‘Lamb Chop and Pineapple Diet’ and the ‘Cabbage Soup Diet’ are discussed as well as the first calorie controlled diets and early cosmetic surgery. The book discusses pioneering fitness gurus and actresses who embraced yoga before it became popular – all truly fascinating.

Vintage Fitness 4

I loved the pretty colour scheme of the book and the fact that it was printed on thick glossy paper, making it really nice to leaf through. The pictures are fantastic and the snippings from contemporary magazines put the information into context and give a great insight into how the physiques of Hollywood starlets influenced normal women though the media.

The book is really well researched and I enjoyed reading about each actress and her various struggles with body image. The book uses quotes throughout which are also really interesting. One of the most insightful things was the differing opinions of modern and contemporary experts which are used throughout.

Hollywood Fitness 5

I’d recommend this book to women who love vintage fashion as well as those who have a deeper interest in the social history of women or just love old Hollywood. It would be a great gift for vintage loving ladies too.

Vintage Secrets – Hollywood Diet and Fitness is written by Laura Slater and Published by Plexus.

Buy Hollywood Diet and Fitness: Vintage Secrets on Amazon.

  • Reply
    January 13, 2015 at 11:49 pm

    It sounds cool, as if it is like what we might now call “the anti-hollywood diet” book. nowadays everyone is trying to be as skinny as possible when, in old hollywood times, it was more about appearing as womanly as possible. i am against diets as a rule but this sounds more like an interesting read as opposed to an instruction book 🙂

  • Reply
    Jessica Cangiano
    January 14, 2015 at 6:42 pm

    Really engaging, lovely review. I agree, this looks like a really charmingly designed book. I so adore it when history and artistic flare combine between two covers like that.

    Hollywood has always put such demands on actresses (and to a lesser extent, IMO, actors) to have amazing figures. I know that in some cases, during the golden age of Hollywood, if an actress went above the weight limit set forth in her contract, she risked not being paid for her roles until she lost the pounds (I read this in a different book about Hollywood secrets). Thankfully today, though I suppose one can be fired outright, I don’t believe that such strict clauses still exist because few (if any?) actors have studio contracts any more. Still, few segments of society worry more about their weight and appearance either way and it’s a shame that such has to be the case a lot of the time if these talented folks want to land good rolls (or rolls at all!).

    ♥ Jessica

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