Wednesday, 19 January 2011

Slender Wartime Waistlines

World War ll may have been an age of austerity but with this came a natural way of being slim. It has been recorded that women were never so slender – or fit – as in the 4o's. The saying, “everything in moderation” was never so true as both food and liquids were rationed. Per week you were allotted 4oz of bacon, 8oz sugar, 2oz butter, one egg and 2oz of tea, to name but a few items affected. Chocolate, sweets and coffee, our comfort foods were practically non-existent. Oil and fats to fry in had to be squeezed from the little meat allowed, providing you stood long enough in a queue and had a ration book to show at the end of it. Living in towns and cities was very hard. Register at a local shop to buy your groceries and you might end up if you were lucky, with treasures like spam, potatoes, carrots and dried egg. In the country at least it was easier to grow your own and keep chickens. My Granddad tried growing his own veg in the back yard. But after the raids, what produce there was – should there be any left over from the unkind elements and poor quality soil - were covered in dust. Even the plane trees’ lives were numbered beneath the torrent of bombs. Other than the Mudchute, a waste area, there was no greenery, so no fruits or berries to gather. East Enders gave up trying to be versatile and settled for spam and the Woolton Pie, promoted by the government - a thin wafer of pastry laid over whatever vegetables were available. The pounds slipped from the waistline and filling men's jobs kept women active and focused. The austerity measures may have been unwanted and reviled, yet you only have to look at photos of women in the 40's to see how beautiful and confident they were – and SLIM!

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