A web search today returns no less than 36 million results for “beauty hints and tips.” The reader can find tips on makeup and hair – what to use and when to use it – along with a host of basic skin and hair care suggestions for both women and men.
I find it ironic that so many of those tips – complete with a host of lotions and potions – claim to give the wearer a “natural look.” But isn’t the most natural look of all the one without all those products? As blogger Robert Brault put it, “We try to achieve beauty by covering up all traces of age and end up looking like we tried to achieve youth by covering up all traces of beauty.”
Garrison Keillor, former host of “A Prairie Home Companion” said, “I was brought up to believe beauty is not worth thinking about; what’s important is your soul, your mind – you don’t want to be a fifty-dollar haircut on a fifty-cent head.”
Between the span of the esoteric views of beauty on the one hand, and the beauty-equals-glamour beliefs on the other, many have weighed in the subject – including our town’s namesake.
Yes, believe it or not, William F. “Buffalo Bill” Cody once shared a beauty secret or two of his own. I discovered this story a few years ago, and I have to say that Buffalo Bill’s weighing in on the subject is the classic “the more things change, the more they stay the same.”
It seems a female reporter from the Nebraska State Journal interviewed Cody on May 11, 1901. She suggested that audiences of his Wild West show tended to overlook Colonel Cody’s finer points.
“These minor beauties consist of a man with an elegantly arched foot, a certain caressing way in which the colonel’s hair curls about his buckskin collar, and finally, a skin as soft and as smooth as a baby’s,” she wrote. “…and the tender wave in the colonel’s hair, there is every reason to believe, is something he has neither begged nor borrowed nor paid for at the barber’s. It is a touch of nature that couldn’t be rubbed out even if the colonel wanted to have it done. Not that he does.”
The reporter contended that the Great Showman’s skin is baby soft and that “a fashionable woman would pawn her diamonds to have a skin like his.” So, she asked Cody, “Don’t you do anything to keep yourself in good physical condition? Don’t you have to fight fat? Do you never find yourself setting stooped? Above all, how do you manage that rose-leaf skin?”
“I don’t do anything. Such as it is, I was born with it,” Cody replied.
“Exactly! So was I born with one like it,” the reporter responded. “The question is: How did you manage to hang on to it?”
“You want the story of my life?” he asked.
“In a nutshell,” she said. “Better still, in a capsule, to be administered to women wanting to reform their complexions.”
“Well, it won’t have to be a large capsule. About three grains of wisdom is all I can give them,” Cody said. “First, be born with pure blood; second, live an out-of-door life; third, don’t overeat.”
Indeed, 119 years later, beauty advice hasn’t changed that much.