20 Vintage Diet and Beauty Book Covers

Earlier this week, we read what health experts are saying about the summer’s best-selling diet books. There’s the usual assortment of good, bad, and confusing advice in the titles reviewed, and really, not much has changed. We traveled back in time to amuse ourselves with the strange, charming, and hilarious diet/beauty books of the past. Here are 20 book covers advertising some crazy ways to beautify and boost your health.

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You don’t have to tell us twice. (1965)

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Glamorous butter. (1940)

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Italian princess Luciana Pignatelli wrote a “straightforward approach to narcissism” with her 1971 tome, The Beautiful People’s Beauty Book. The socialite offered witty and absurd lifestyle and beauty tips, recommending women dine alone, give themselves “homosexual facials” (a mask of egg whites and olive oil), take cold showers, yawn like crazy, and dance to lose weight.

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And when the princess remarried (to the cousin of photographer Richard Avedon, Burt Simms Avedon) she penned this 1973 diet book, which offered truly sound advice: “For heightened perception without drugs plus rapid weight loss, nothing beats the oldest known treatment for obesity: total starvation.”

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Yes, please. (1965)

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Penicillin not included. (1987)

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Tip-top for 1966.

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A Moroccan beauty book written by an herbalist. There’s some conflicting info on the publishing date, but the image is vintage-style dreamy.

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Sir William Arbuthnot Lane was a pioneering, but eccentric plastic surgeon who used to haphazardly remove people’s colons, and therefore, should not have written a book (published in 1936) about women’s beauty or health.

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The desperate tears and disembodied hand are frightening. (1950)

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This book teaches us about the three food groups from 1931: butter, eggs, and argyle.

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A command or a suggestion? (1965)

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From 1972:

“Includes Bridget’s Overweight Character Analysis Quiz, dozens of full-color photos, and loaded with ‘recipes’ like Peanut Shell Casserole, Sirloin Tips Awful Awful, Turkey Foot Aspic, Tea Bag Won Ton Soup, Bread & Butter Sandwich, Lima Beans Titanic, Rabbit Food Salad, Drainpipe Daiquiri, and Egg Shell Nog. All prepared and presented by the Rubenesque Bridget, shown cooking and eating in her full natural glory, wearing (sometimes) only an apron and chef’s toque.”

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Diabetes. (1954)

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Arlene Dahl, 1950’s screen star and mother of Lorenzo Lamas, wrote the creepy Always Ask a Man in 1965:

“Millions of dollars, the statisticians tell us, are spent yearly at beauty salons, cosmetics counters, gymnasiums, and dress shops in woman’s quest for beauty. But beauty for whom? The girls in the office? The women at the club? How can the world progress if women don’t consider men… the man… first?”

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Written in 1947 by the Westmore siblings, whose father, George Westmore, founded the first Hollywood makeup department in 1917.

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Surprisingly, Joan Crawford’s 1971 beauty and lifestyle book doesn’t include a chapter about using a Sharpie to draw on your eyebrows. Instead she offers recipes for peanut butter and bacon hors d’oeuvres, recommends people avoid sitting in soft chairs so their hips don’t spread, and advises those with oily hair to massage their scalps with cologne.

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Advice we can live with. (1946)