The Perfect Girl

For the most part, we here at Forgotten Stories shy away from more salacious material, but today we’re going to break with tradition and give you some full frontal nudity of the perfect girl.

The story of Margaret Edwards is almost inseparable from that of her mother, Edyth Edwards of Berkley California. There’s no telling what happened to Edwards pere, but Edyth made her living as a physical culture instructor for young ladies at local California schools beginning around 1905. Jobs as a physical culture instructor were hard to come by in an era when physical exercise for females was almost unheard of, and they were made all the harder to find by Edyth’s personality; one school claimed “she created much discord, and would not accept that she was a subordinate in the department.”

Edwards1

So Edyth hit upon a plan, exhibiting her daughter Margaret on stage as the “Perfect Girl.” Only 16 at the time, Margaret began appearing in local theatrical productions as a nymph, dressed in loose fitting tunics which demonstrated her “beautiful limbs,”  wrote the San Francisco Call’s theater critic in 1911, “…shown in all their natural loveliness, while her curls hung over her bare shoulders. With a beautiful woodland setting about her, leaves on the ground, trees and flowers about her, she seemed made for the environment, and there was nothing in the picture at which the least offense could be taken.”

Edwards2

Edyth stood on stage as her Margaret traipsed around looking perfect, and then gave a little speech about her daughter, starting with her physical characteristics; 5 feet 2 and 1/8 inches tall, and 112 and ½ pounds of weight, and then even got more specific: Neck, 11 ½ inches; arm 9 inches; forearm 8 and ¾ inches; wrist, 6 inches, elbow 8 and ¾ inches; chest normal, 31 inches;  chest, contracted 27 inches; chest, expanded 32 and ½; bust, 33; waist, 23 inches; hips, 32 inches; thigh, 19 inches; calf, 13 inches (for comparison purposes, we went out and asked several attractive women on the street today how big their hips and got ourselves slapped. Research is painful.).

Edwards 5

Margaret ate what the “stomach ordered” and eschewed cake, candy, and corsets.. Her physical perfection was not due only to a proper diet, but also stemmed from paying attention to muscles. “Learn to walk with your muscles; sit with your muscles, breath with your muscles; as your Creator designed you should do. That’s why Margaret’s muscles are round and full. There is no reason why every woman cannot be as perfect as Margaret.”

Mrs. Edwards outlined Margaret’s exercise regimen which centered on developing the core. “She first developed flexibility of the chest, forcing in the lower chest with hands while exhaling through the mouth, and inhaling through the nostrils, always exhaling before inhaling. With the thumbs under the armpits, she forces the upper chest in and breathes as in the former case. Her final exercise is “simply to lock the thumbs above the head and touch the toes without bending at the knees.”

By about 1915, and following a name-change from Margaret to the more exotic Marguerite, the Perfect Girl’s career began to peter out, but not before she appeared in a few films in the still nascent Hollywood. One of these early pictures, a morality film known as Hypocrites[1], debuted at about the same time as Birth of a Nation, and Marguerite played “The Naked Truth.” Now here’s the full frontal nudity we promised, from Marguerite’s brief performance. We encourage you to watch the whole 4 minutes, but jump to 1:20 if you want to see Marguerite:

The movie was banned in Boston due to the nudity (at least until the movie studio painted some clothes on Marguerite), but critics in most other cities lauded the performance. Another bit role  followed, and a season headlining the Pantages vaudeville circuit, but by about 1920 Marguerite was out of show business. Marguerite died in 1929. No word on what happened to Edyth.

Special thanks to Lisa P., who provided some insight on waist sizes, but refused to let us measure her calf.


[1] We believe the IMDB entry for Marguerite is wrong, as being born in 1877 would make her 38 in 1915. She doesn’t look 38.

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4 Comments

  1. most illuminating, and how could one resist a post with a title like this? I note she appears to have been transposed or superimposed onto the background, whether to make her look more of a vision, (or an illusion for the saintly monk-character) or so they could shoot in the studio i could not say. presumably the former, no? Either way, great post. thank you.

    Reply
    • Right. As I understand it, in the infancy of film that ran the reel through the camera twice, once with her and once without her. That gave her a more visionary appearance. Glad you enjoyed the post
      .

      Reply
      • Yes, perhaps, although, (& this is the bit that puzzles me) she and the background or landscape Both appear correctly exposed, whereas, if they’d shot her just once & the background twice… logically it would be overexposed. Know what i mean? I’m still trying to work our how they did it. I should probably just accept it ! :) Thanks again . – Arran.

  2. Try this, at page 92 –
    http://tinyurl.com/l2jgal7

    Reply

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