I Dare Say – It never pays (10-22-43)

The Pittsburgh Press (October 22, 1943)


It never pays

By Florence Fisher Parry

As I dictate these words, I am having a beautiful manicure. The young lady has just asked me what shade of polish I prefer, and I find myself answering “Hot Dog,” and suddenly feel absurd. I, wearing “Hot Dog”? At my age? But let me hasten to explain.

“Hot Dog” has been more or less forced upon me. For you see, I am a mother of a young lady, and I indulge the frugal habit of using up all the leftover beauty aids.

My bureau drawers now seem to abound in “Hot Dog” remnants, and until they are exhausted, “Hot Dogs” it will have to be.

I don’t like the cold cream I am using now, either, or for that matter the skin lotion; and I just don’t know when I’ll ever be able to use up all these variegated lipsticks. Some fine day I am going out and buy itself a whole outfit of matching cosmetics, and I have no doubt that this simple extravagance will do more to bolster my morale than any other single action I could indulge.


There is a woman for whom I have always entertained an unbounded admiration, for she has managed to lead the busiest possible life, while at the same time never letting go of her looks which to this day remain her chiefest asset. This is Clare Boothe Luce. Just what this smart woman could have accomplished without a stunning appearance to carry her through, is anybody’s conjecture.

The fact remains that here is a woman who has got further on her looks plus brains than any woman now in the public eye, and I am not one who would hold it against her that, in that recent spelling bee, Mrs. Luce failed dismally. She didn’t know how to spell supersede or defendant or Gibraltar or Albuquerque.

Now there are those who gloated that this not-too-popular young Congresswoman was thus shown up. This is ridiculous. Being a good speller proves nothing but an accurate eye. It has little or nothing to do with one’s native intelligence or even one’s education.

Some of the smartest people I know are wretched spellers, and some of the most tiresome could spell down Noah Webster himself in any spelling bee.

The important thing is that Mrs. Luce has made a stunning success at being a woman, and as far as I am concerned, she can spell “supersede” any way she wants to. I envy, how I envy anyone who can hew to the line of his own ambition and let the chips fall on others’ shoulders! It is said that such successful people ride roughshod over all others to gain their own objectives. Be that as it may, they get there, and by achieving their objectives are far more able to accomplish more for others in the end.


People like Clare Luce would never be found using anybody else’s leftover nail polish or get their days so cluttered that they would have to wash their own hair and put it up themselves in jaggy kid rollers, as I am prone to do.

And when women let their looks and their figures go, and then try to excuse themselves by saying that they can’t afford to spend the time on themselves because of what they were trying to do for others, in my heart I know that they are just trying to find an excuse for their own weakness and bad management.

No advice is so sound and so acid and so true as that which is made by those who have not themselves acted upon it. Therefore, the following is worth any young woman’s listening to:

It never pays to let your looks go. It never pays to wash your own hair or do your own nails or neglect your clothes or your face. Such martyred sacrifice is a boomerang. It defeats itself in the end.

Well, my manicure is finished, and my nails look very nice, and I feel much better. What I ought to do is just stay here all day and get a good going-over and buy a new corset and a course of reducing treatments and shop my head off for clothes. It would give me authority in my own home. It would boost my stock with my family.

And I know if this goes for me, it goes for you too, you middle-aged mothers and wives. We don’t get any thanks for letting ourselves go. We lose out every time.

I just have a notion, when I go home tonight, to throw away every half-used lipstick and nail polish bottle and cold cream jar that I can find in the house!

And I’ve just made a date with a hairdresser – and, by George, I am going to keep it!