Robert Taylor: Vitality is the American Look
Chicago Tribune, March 20, 1963
Robert Taylor, guest columnist for Arlene Dahl, stars in Cattle King
Let’s Be Beautiful (column name)
Writing columns is hardly my line of work, but I have always found it difficult to refuse a beautiful woman’s request. So here is my guest column for Arlene Dahl:
In my travels around the world, I have always been aware of how American women enjoy the unique distinction of being immediately identified as such. Across a street, across a room, you don’t have to meet a woman from the united States in order to know that she is from home. Why is this?
I think it is largely a matter of grooming, of the type of clothes she wears, and that assurance that goes with The American Look. There is an air of independence, of vitality and making the very best of what beauty is hers, that is the unique brand of a lady from the states.
Throughout most foreign lands, even in France where woman-worship is something of a cult, The American Look sets a standard of excellence that is anxiously sought after and copied by women in almost every station of life.
It is something of an achievement for the “New World” that in so much of the “Old,” The American Look has become an international status symbol. It is as noticeable in Tokyo as it is in Vienna—and yet the bona-fide States-side female is always recognizable.
Why? I asked my wife Ursula about it. She, a German girl, who acted and modeled in Berlin before she became one of the beauties of the American screen, should be a good authority on the subject. She said that the look is traceable to the awareness that American women have of themselves as such.
Even little girls become aware of the emphasis placed on grooming and beauty here. As she grows up, the social necessity of cleanliness, of skillfully “gilding the lily.” of making the most of what she has in the way of looks, is borne out in every magazine she reads, every contact in life.
As she grows up, this becomes a social urge that puts its stamp upon nearly every American woman. Busy as she may be with careers, housework, motherhood and bridge parties, she takes time to dress and groom herself as best she can. Attention to her appearance is almost as important to her as food and drink.
American women have been described as slaves to themselves, and criticized for putting too much emphasis upon what they wear and for the artifices they use to present their best face to the world. But this is an age-old custom which outdates Cleopatra. It probably began when Eve used snake oil as a beauty aid.