What did beauty mean to you when you were in your 20s?
My 20s were during World War II and the aftermath. My mother died a year before; the older children of the family, including me, all worked to contribute to feed and clothe the family. My eldest sister tried to make “new” clothes from old ones for the family.
There was no luxury/beauty, but we had enough to eat. My dad worked at a farm so we had free milk every day and got flour to bake bread from the farmer.
At the end of the war we got “foodpackets.” One of the articles was Sunlight soap which was our only luxury.
Marriage was something to aspire to. I married when I was 25, and we lived in my dad’s home the first four years. There were no houses available because of the war. I worked as a housekeeper until my first child was born when I was 28.
My husband asked me which days I wanted to work and he would take care of our child, or if I wanted to stay at home as a mum, he would work full-time. I chose to be a stay-at-home-mum.
After four years of living in my dad’s house, we got our own home, two step-children included (15 and 12 years old). Their parents had died, and they needed care. The family asked us to take care of them in their house.
In my 30s, four more children were born. We had no luxury-life but we had enough.
Until the 1960s, I had long hair. Since then I’ve worn it short. It has a natural wave. I’ve never had a perm or colouring, although sometimes I used rollers. It’s white now and thinning.
I never dieted. In the 50s and 60s I wore a corset to strengthen my back and tuck my tummy in. I stopped wearing this in the mid sixties, and it feels better.
During the early ’50s, we had some ladies’ magazines with a lot of articles about the household tips to make something new from old, making children’s clothes, questions from readers about bringing up children (which a professor answered), and advertisements about sewing machines, vacuum cleaners and washing machines. There was nothing about fashion or make-up.
Only people with money wore make-up. I never felt the urge to wear make-up.
We didn’t have TV, Internet, or billboards, so there were not so many images about “Beauty”.
What does beauty mean to you now?
Now even being so old, you want to look well. I wear comfortable and decent clothes. My luxury? The hairdresser and pedicurist comes to my house.
I enjoy my children and grand-children. I enjoy life as it is. I eat well…fresh vegetables and fruit every day. I love to read books, embroider and do crossword-puzzles.
If different, why have your ideas about beauty changed over the years?
There is a big difference. Everything has changed during my lifetime. You are able to buy everything you want. There is abundance.
Anna Elisabeth, 86 – Holland