HISTORY OF HEALTH AND BEAUTY

The Tweaker

Lucy Santos, The Glamourologist

03 November 2016

The Tweaker

Photograph by The Glamourologist

“Your daintiness demands arms and legs free from unsightly hairs. When you mingle with the happy summer throng at the beaches….. whenever you “go formal”… every time you wear a pair of gossamer chiffon hose.. you are conscious of the importance of taking every precaution against embarrassment. Your happiness, your peace of mind depends so much on this one thing.”

The Tweaker was one of the new innovative products that came out of the 1920s new focus on the body beautiful and, in particular, the new and growing need for women to remove unwanted hair which increased as hemlines grew shorter and sports, dancing and the beach became more popular.

Or as the manufacturers of the Tweaker put it:

“Your daintiness demands arms and legs free from unsightly hairs. When you mingle with the happy summer throng at the beaches….. whenever you “go formal”… every time you wear a pair of gossamer chiffon hose.. you are conscious of the importance of taking every precaution against embarrassment. Your happiness, your peace of mind depends so much on this one thing.”

The Tweaker is presented as a lifestyle choice for this new generation of women who “until now have had to be content with unsatisfactory makeshift methods- razors that left a stubby, prickly after growth – dangerous depilatories that were so mussy to use – painful wax”.

Despite looking like a weapon of torture this “pleasing method” promised a new freedom for women that could be up kept in just a minute or two each day.

The Tweaker itself comes in a box with an envelope of size No. 8 rubber bands which are stretched across between the front and rear posts on each side and you are ready to go.

“Take hold of Tweaker with your thumb and forefinger, as you would a pair of scissors. Open and close it a few times quickly.”

The accompanying How To booklet promises that the hairs are gently rolled out by the roots and use “absolutely discourages the return of hair”.

The set I bought is a store display set and comes with this amazing store card which shows an exquisitely dressed lady using (and enjoying) her Tweaker.

And really I have found very little else about this product. It seems it was introduced in 1927 by the Tweaker Manufacturing Company of Chicago and sold for $3.50 and despite being mentioned in Madeleine Marsh’s book I have not seen any adverts for this in the UK – but will keep looking.

I love the way the advertising emphasises the freedom that using the Tweaker presents for women when in fact it seems quite a time consuming process. However there is a freedom in showing your legs off, in the movement of less restrictive clothes and the new public face of women during the 1920s and I can imagine the lady who received or bought the Tweaker felt she was embracing this new definition of feminity and freedom.

The thing reminded me of this post, and what we were discussing, was the preoccupation in advertising of this period with “embarrassment” and this is certainly emphasised in the copy for the Tweaker. Not just selling ‘daintiness’ manufacturers were finding out that playing on female insecurities was a very profitable business and the 20s also saw a massive rise in the ranges of personal hygiene products designed to exploit this new and growing market.

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