The Elusive Pursuit

It Is Difficult To Be Beautiful. September 9, 1962


Original Source: Nedelia, No. 37, 9-15 September 1962, pp. 4-5.

It is impossible to deny a woman the yearning to be attractive. In fact, what woman’s heart will not thrill at the words: “How that dress suits you!” or “What a lovely hair-do you have!” Women value sincerity. Gallantry in words is, after all, only compliments. Gallantry in deeds is the output of beautiful clothing, elegant cosmetics and articles of adornment, and the organization of everyday services.

Yet state planning committees and economic councils frequently do not take women’s demands into consideration.

The old saying, “to be beautiful, you must suffer,” has not lost its applicability today. Indeed, the realm of beauty is still not adapted in our country so as to be accessible to all women, and not merely the bored women of fashion.

Today Nedelia is inviting readers to take a trip along routes well known to every woman.

From Head to Toe (By T. Demina and V. Sergeeva)

On receiving -the editors’ assignment, we set out through the Stores of Moscow. Our journey began in search of hosiery. When we had made the rounds of nearly ten stores, it became clear that the attempt to buy ordinary stockings, not to mention elastic or sheer “non-run” stockings, would hardly end successfully.

There are almost none on the counters.

“We turn out 650 pairs a day,” Comrade Medvedev, chief engineer of the Tushino Mills, “reassured” us.

Drops in the ocean! It turns out that these stockings are made by only three mills: in Ivanteevka, Riga and Tbilisi. Can they turn out enough hosiery for everyone?

Thus, we were unable to buy new stockings. One thing remained: to mend the runs in the old ones. Encouraged by this thought, we set out for the hosiery repair shop. But we had barely come near it when we saw a long line. Even the month it takes for an order to be filled does not stop the women. The 83 centers for mending runs are literally overloaded with work.

The State Department Store. The doors of the women’s lingerie salon are hospitably open.

“Show us a size-45 slip.”

“There are seldom any, and when we have them they sell out before noon.”

Those who visit the lingerie stores have noticed a strange regularity. For weeks lingerie of only one color lies on the Counters. The factories do not trouble themselves with assortments of colors.

Black lingerie is a problem. It is embarrassing to the sales clerks to keep uttering the tiresome, no.” “Black” slips supplied to the State Department Store by the Ivanteevka Factory turned out to be a dirty brown.

Now let us speak about the most intimate article of a lady’s costume. Thin stretch one-size-fits-all tights, which resemble children’s creepers and replace three items of a lady’s costume all at once, are now in style. They are comfortable. But they are not on sale.

“How do you explain that lady’s lingerie has such ugly trimming?” we asked Comrade Chuprygina, chief engineer of the Red Star Mills.

“There is not enough lace,” we hear in answer. “We asked for 1,600,000 meters and received only 500,000. Two small mills, the Pereiaslavl, the Thaelmann, are not able to supply everyone. A way out can be found. Recently we installed a Super Guarant machine which makes excellent lace. But, after all, it is the only one.”

The last things that we “had” to buy were a hat and gloves. But how could any woman with a regard for her appearance wear such misshapen, square – fingered gloves, capable of turning the most graceful small hand into a coarse paw? Well, and the hats? There are many of them. Only how about choosing one that suits one’s face? One can rarely find a salesclerk capable of recommending something suitable. Most clerks stand indifferently by the customer and mechanically hold out one hat after another.

The millinery shop takes orders only for the hats of its own design. Since these models are ridiculous, we left the State Department Store millinery shop empty-handed.

A “Set” With Obstacles (By T. Belkina)

Four o’clock in the afternoon. I finished work and went home. I looked at myself in the mirror. Wasn’t it really time?

4:30 p.m. The hairdresser’s. In the window were smiling wax beauties with unimpeachable coiffures and an advertisement for permanents, cuts and “dyeing hair in all colors.’

5:00 p.m. I sit and wait patiently. Out of boredom I count all those waiting to be beautified. There are 37, not a very comforting number, but I do not lose hope.

7:00 p.m. A woman with straight, messy hair appears at the hairdresser’s. Another permanent, of course. This means that the happy woman will be taken out of turn, without waiting, in spite of the large notice, “All types of work will be done by the hairdressers in the order of the general queue.” But there is a magic phrase-“meeting the plan.” It is much more profitable to do one permanent than several sets and cuts.

8:00 p.m. The girl sitting next to me muses: “In the future everything will probably be wonderfully organized. If you want to have your hair done, you will telephone or drop in at the salon and they will immediately give you an appointment, as at the polyclinic, such-and-such an hour with such-and-such a hairdresser.”

“But why in the future? There is such a hairdresser’s in Moscow. It is the salon on Kuznetskii Bridge. There they give appointments and one does not have to wait in line. But the capital has only one such salon as yet.”

Let us leave the line temporarily and drop in at the everyday services administration of the Moscow City Soviet Executive Committee.

“No, there are not enough hairdressing salons in Moscow,” agreed N. S. Skameikin, assistant director of the everyday services administration. “In my time women gave little attention to hairdos. Since then we have been haunted by the figure 30-that is, only 30% of all the hairdressing salons are for women. A new 50-seat salon is now being planned for each of 17 boroughs of Moscow: in 1963 hairdressing salons with a total of 1,000 seats will be opened.”

9:00 p.m. I am sitting in line and still do not know whether or not I will succeed in having my hair done today. The hairdresser’s will close soon; I am still 12th in line.

Source: Current Digest of the Soviet Press. Vol. XIV, No. 38 (1962), p. 11


Comments are closed.