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Mae West’s Secret to Keeping Her Signature Curves

Even decades after her heyday in Hollywood, Mae West is still remembered for her enviable figure and sassy quotes. At a time when other major starlets were maintaining the petite flapper girl frame, West embraced her curves — and the attention that came with it.

When discussing her looks over the years, West would mention her hourglass shape by saying things like, “Cultivate your curves — they may be dangerous, but they won’t be avoided.” She also quipped, “I never worry about diets. The only carrots that interest me are the number you get in a diamond.” We have to admit, it’s hard to disagree with that logic! 

The actress was known for her dedication to light weight-lifting and regularly working out on an exercise bike. In fact, even at 83, West made a point of showing off her stationary bike in a Guardian interview. But she wasn’t afraid of changing her famous figure for a role, either. Back in 1933, she spoke with the San Jose News about “fattening up” for Diamond Lil, a play that she wrote. This included a diet of creamed chicken on buttered toast, lobster Newburg, and chocolate cream cake.

West also relied on custom corsets from Madame Binner, a renowned New York corsetiere, to put everything in its place. “What can be accomplished by the feminine figure, once it’s nipped here and there, and allowed free rein elsewhere — you’d be surprised!” she said. Of course, shape-wear has changed a lot over the years, but it still serves the same purpose West was looking for. “You got to have something to put in ‘em. Know what I mean?” We do! There’s no shame in getting a little help here and there. 

Mae also revealed another secret about her enviable body. “I have an extra thyroid gland,” she said. “It gives me twice the energy and twice, the, you know, everything else I guess.” We’re not sure if she was embellishing, but there’s no denying West looked amazing her whole life. She put it more simply in a chat with Anjelica Huston for Interview magazine in 1974, “I eat the right foods, exercise, take care of myself.”

Whether West was wearing a corset, working out, or relying on a natural boost of energy to maintain her curves, there’s one thing we can all agree on — her personality was what really sealed her legendary status. We’ll leave you with one more quote to remind you: “I like my clothes to be tight enough to show I’m a woman, but loose enough to show I’m a lady.”

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