The Pittsburgh Press (October 22, 1941)
Wives enforce diets when they learn draftees have ‘perfect 31’ waist
By Henry McLemore
New York –
A great blow to civilian morale in this country was struck recently with the announcement of the waistline measurement of the average draftee.
It was given as 31 inches and hundreds of editors callously printed it in the front pages of their newspapers where every wife could see it.
All over the land, wives sprang into action. Tape measures were yanked from sewing baskets and husbands returning from work were astonished to be greeted at the door by arms around the waist instead of arms around the neck.
Not one of us was given a sporting chance to pull our stomachs in and hold our breath in a game effort to approximate the old waistline we wore when we walked down the church aisle.
Only those rare physical freaks with waistlines of 31 or under escaped the dread pronouncement:
You go on a diet tomorrow.
A man on a diet is no good to his country, I’ll go even further and say that a man on a diet is no good for anything. Lettuce and watercress may make for large, healthy rabbits, but show me a single rabbit that has a good job, is paying off the mortgage on a home, and meeting insurance premiums. You can’t do it.
He becomes a bore
Neither can you name me a famous statesman, jurist, financier, poet, nor musician who owes his success to black coffee and grapefruit as a starter for the day. A reducing diet changes a man’s entire life. To begin with, he becomes a complete and utter bore.
He is hungry all the time so a good share of his conversation is devoted to food. He recalls old steaks he ate in St. Louis in 1925; he reminisces continually about chocolate pies, hashed brown potatoes and spaghetti and meatballs.
When he isn’t talking about food, he is either weighing himself or showing you how his clothes don’t fit anymore. There can’t be many duller sights than watching a man fold his trousers over to show how much weight he has lost.
He knows the reason
Another thing that your dieter does is to ask you to watch him step on the scales. He considers this a tremendous favor. After the scales show that he has lost but six pounds after claiming a 10-pound loss, his explanation is always the same. It’s his clothes.
Then before you can make a retreat, he is off on a discussion of how much every garment he has on weighs. The weights he assigns to some of the garments are fan-
Dieters are never content to diet alone. They want everyone else to join them. Men who have been on a diet for less than three days, and who couldn’t possibly have taken off more than a pound or two, talk with horror of how they used to feel in the old days when they were overweight. Let someone eat a potato in their presence and they act as if the potato eater were dining on something that came straight from Lu Borgia’s sideboard.
It is amazing how quickly the man on a diet can master the tastic calorie table. It is equally amazing how quickly he tries to teach it to everyone else.
How Henry knows
In case you doubt any of this, let me state that I am writing with great authority. I was met with a tape measure after the draftee’s waistline measurement was published and have been on a diet ever since.
I haven’t lost in actual pounds as much as I expected to, but if I could just show the way my clothes fit now and tell you how much better I feel than before I started, I’m sure that any of you who are overweight would diet too.
It’s simply a matter of watching your calories. I just got up and weighed myself a minute ago and if I didn’t have on such heavy shoes and such a heavy suit, I’d weigh darn near what I want to.