Types of beauty have ensnared my mind ever since I was a young girl and I have taken advantage of every occasion in my travels in Europe, North Africa, in Australia, in China and India to make mental notes of my observations. Many years ago in a conversation with my friend Dr. Maurice Fishberg, I remarked that there was, in my opinion, a profound misconception of what constituted the "Jewish type" of feminine beauty. It was usually portrayed as dark, full-lipped and Oriental. The coloring of the skin was olive and the nose had curling wings.
I said then, what I believe to be true today, that I have seen more acquiline noses, black hair and olive coloring among the aristocracy of Europe from the Baltic to the Mediterranean, than among the Jews in all lands I have visited. Dr. Fishberg, who is an authority on this subject, agreed with me at that time. He pointed out that in England and Germany the majority of Jews were blonde or intermediate in coloring; that contrary to popular opinion, the snub nose was most common among Jews everywhere, and that, according to statistics compiled by him and others, less than 14 percent of Jews have what is called "hooked" or convex noses.
NO PURE RACES IN EUROPE
I do not pretend to know how this legend of the strictly Jewish type has arisen. Myths have a way of clinging, of persisting even though they are refuted by simple facts and observation. Although the Germans nowadays, laboring under the illusion of an unsound theory, speak of the superiority of the Aryan or Nordic races, I am convinced from my own close personal studies, from my contact with many thousands of women who have come to me for help and advice, that virtually no pure races exist in Europe today.
I doubt whether they exist anywhere else in the civilized world. Popular legend having to do with Jewish women, calling them swarthy, voluptuous, plump, sloe-eyed, raven-haired and what not, seems to have been perpetuated by both caricature and constant repetition.
But myth is just as unreliable when it touches on non-Jews. For example, there is, I am reliably informed by students of anthropology, no pure Germanic race. The Germans have a strong admixture of the Slavic element. This conforms to my personal observation of German women. Goethe’s Gretchen was blonde, and so we have come to believe that the ideal German type of beauty is blonde. But this is far from the truth.
Certainly in Prussia, Saxony and Hanover the dark or intermediate type predominates, and the farther south we go we begin to notice a change. Mountain types are usually blonde and blue-eyed, but the majority of Germans are not mountain-bred or mountain-born. In Bavaria a great number of blondes appear, yet fair coloring is by no means universal there. The northern half of Italy, moreover, produces an attractive blonde and auburn-haired type of feminine beauty to which the term "Titian" is particularly applicable. In Vienna the melange of races has prod# about an equal number of blondes and brunettes. Indeed, as an admirer of the chic Viennese woman, I do not hesitate to say that the most attractive "Suesses maedle" or femme du monde here is brunette.
TITIANS IN AFRICA
In my travels in North Africa I have often come across striking blonde and Titian-haired beauties among the Berbers, Kabyls and other native tribes. Even in China I was amazed to find a settlement of fair-haired Chinese. In India, of course, the dark type predominates and the features are delicate and small, very fragile and most attractive in that very quality of fragility.
Now, among all these peoples and in all these lands, I have encountered—in the most remote and unexpected places — century-old settlements of Jews. The remarkable thing to me about the women of these settlements is this: they upset all preconceived theories. They do not measure up to what is popularly known as the "Jewish type." They are not sloe-eyed, olive-skinned, Rachels or female Daniel Derondas. Neither in primary nor secondary characteristics do they fit in with all the long cherished but wrong notions.
Often they are tall, well-built and sculptured like Greek goddesses; their coloring varies widely; their heads are long, or round or short; they are well-nourished and undernourished; there are Gretchens, Lolas and Brunnehildes among them, and you will find these types in the most unexpected places.
NEW YORK THE MICROCOSM
I have always held—today more so than ever—that no essential Jewish type exists. This is amply borne out by both my professional and private observations. Do you know that Jews were once referred to as "Asiatics" in American Law, even as late as the Exclusion Act which made an exception in their case? The rank absurdity of still ascribing these Asiatic characteristics to Jews of all countries, will be apparent to anybody who has travelled and studied Jewish women, as I have done. But you need not go abroad to convince yourself. Just wander through the streets of New York and note down the great variety of Jewish types. What you see in New York, you will see in Europe, Asia and Africa. The Jews, in a word, reflect the climate and environment in which they live and have lived for generations.
While the racial characteristics attributed to the Jews may have been of Asiatic persuasion, nevertheless, I have seen blonde Nordic Jews in Germany, Sweden and Switzerland, and Italian Jewish girls who might very well have sat as models for the Madonna of Leonardo, Massacio, Giorgioni and others. I have seen Caucasian Russian Jewesses with Kalmuck noses, casily to be mistaken for pure-blooded Tartars.
And in Ireland I have talked with Jewish women who cannot be distinguished from the Celtic women. In France the Jewish woman looks and conducts herself exactly like a Frenchwoman. In China you will come upon slant-eyed Jewesses, dark, smooth-skinned, as beautiful and frail and Oriental as the proverbial lotus flower of the land—no different, indeed from the other Chinese girls. A friend of mine tells the story of a Jewish family who, for business reasons, migrated to China. She says that the second generation began to mirror the change of environment: the lips were thinner, the skin became taut as among the Chinese, the face flat and the eyes narrower. While this fact may perhaps be questioned, I am quite sure that several generations would show a marked alteration.
Jewish women are in the main good looking, not because they stand out as alien in a given city or land, in their immediate environment, but because they have an impulse, often unconscious, to be natural, to be themselves. They do not strive to be this or that, Nordic or Greek, although they may be either at certain times in certain places. Beauty is both an inward and outward thing. It is never standardized like a coin. The Italian painters made Christ blonde, even though he was a Jew. In my opinion, these painters were correct.
My own concept, based on long contact with the women of all nations, of the ideal type of Jewish feminine beauty (although I admit it is only an ideal) is the fair-haired or intermediate, slim, out-of-doors type with regular features. Whenever I meet with the lovely, smooth-skinned dark type, Pole or Eastern, I feel that the woman or girl is probably the outcome of long years of European civilization.
PURE RACE THEORY EXPLODED
This is true also of characteristics and secondary traits: gestures, timber of voice, mobile lips and eyes, gait, and habits of expression or thought. Most persons do not realize that the modern European nations are comparatively young, and that the Jew with his profound religious background, has a far more ancient history. He has had more time to drink deep at the well-springs of European culture, to which he has most marvellously adapted himself.
I am glad that such excellent observers as Marvin Lowenthal, Dr. Maurice Fishberg and Lionel Reiss, the artist, whose drawings of Jewish types were made independently of my own views and conclusions agree with me on this point. Today though a tenacious devotion to the Jewish religion still prevails, the legend of pure race and fixed ### permanent racial examples has been pretty well exploded. I am happy to add my own testimony to the findings of others, and thus to scotch the further growth of apocalyptic and silly generalizations about Jews, and especially about the facial standardization of Jewish women.