I must say that my remarks about my lack of enthusiasm for masks and feeling cold when wearing rubber next to the skin have produced letters to me from readers all over the globe. Their concern is very touching and while I do try to reply personally to all letters, this latest lot is giving me typist’s neck and shoulders.
Anyway, I am grateful for all help and advice and particularly the support from readers like J.R.B. who told John Sutcliffe in a letter that he was “in no way tired of seeing Helen attractively mackintoshed to face the weather . . . rather the opposite”.
It also seems that the sight of me in over-tight fitting rubber breeches (Atomage 17) produced not only undue concern for the state of my health but requests for more pictures. There is no accounting for taste so for ‘S’ of Middlesex and others, here is another picture of me suffering in the cause of art. A reader in North America has now bought these breeches with their 21 inch waist and I am eagerly waiting to see a picture of the wearer, who has both my admiration and my sympathy.
Pictures, too, are demanded of me wearing the famous waders. Well, over the page is another picture taken on an English Spring Day between downpours. These and all my other boots have been essential wear for me this year. I cannot see myself wearing sandals or shoes ever again. In fact, I only possess one pair of shoes anywayand I hate those!
I am glad the waders are being worn by other readers and my crusade, at first thought lunatic by many including the bootmakers, has been worthwhile. R.I.H. of Cornwall was kind enough to write to me of his discovery of a pair of size 6, shiny black rubber, in a local shop, and from a London firm I have been sent a pair of French made green waders, supposedly size 4. t have agreed to try them and Robert is now looking for a suitable lake where, if they leak, I shall probably drown before he has taken the picture.
I was most intrigued by an idea from Mr. G.H.S. in America who agreed that wearing a mask took a lot of getting used to. He says he has “experimented with several types of headwear such as face mask heads (p.32 Atomage 9), full vinyl helmets and leather helmets but none could be worn for any extended period of time without a great deal of discomfort”.
These are my feelings, but he goes on to say “in my opinion an addition of a wig over the helmet or mask is critical. This seems to be only my opinion since none of the photos in Atomage combine helmets with wigs. I wish that the expert designers invented something that could be worn daily as a ‘normal’ apparel item without major discomfort. A picture on p. 19 (Atomage 16) perhaps is a small step in that direction. I am sure that a lot more women would be willing to wear headgear if this were not as uncomfortable as it is now”.
He enclosed a picture which is reproduced above and I must say ‘her’ looks are an improvement on mine, and I like the sad expression. G.H.S. then echos my own views by saying “For instance, wearing latex apparel is not entirely comfortable and I know that not many women can wear latex as ‘normal’ attire. Similarly corsets, high boots, leather vinyl and other types of modern wear require some appreciable adjustments but most of these are relatively easy”
R.M.R. from Scotland wrote to me and said “the trouble is that the female is naturally claustrophobic”.
He tells me his wife is “one of the ‘wear to please’ type and has overcome to a degree the feeling of fear when masked or blindfolded, although it has taken time”.
His solution is that I try a form of discipline where I gradually get accustomcd “to rubber suits, gags, masks, blindfolds, ear plugs and other appliances in a gradual fashion. Do not try to emulate the lady on page 13 or page 26 of Supplement No. 5 in one go”.
Frankly, R.M.R. I was not going to try to copy these two ladies at all. Anyway, this is part of his proposed regime for me using a cat suit with an all enveloping hood and long rubber gloves.
“Day 1: put on rubber suit over tights and poloneck pullover as soon as you are in, take it off immediately. Day 2: put on rubber suit as above and leave on for 1 hour. Aim to have only one hour from the instant you start until the time you finish. On the following days repeat day 2 by adding 1 hour per day. Do not extend the time even if you feel great. If you have to take a day off return to the previous day and then continue, e.g. if you have to do something on day 5 (4 hours) when you start again do not exceed 4 hours.
“By Day 9 you should be familiar with the feel of the suit and can proceed to stage 2. You should note here that I have advocated wearing tights and polo neck sweater. This is to allow air to circulate round the body, otherwise you become hot and sticky and there is nothing surer to make you claustrophobic. Repeat day 5 or 6 with a pair of long cotton gloves underneath the long rubber gloves worn on top of the cat suit.
“Day 10: repeat day 9 only with the gloves on first before you pull up the top of the cat suit. Day 11: continue as day 10 adding 1 hour until at day 12 you have reached 7 hours.
“At this stage it is time to consolidate your gains and proceed in one of two directions. Either 1) remove your underclothing and wear your suit next to your skin or 2) start adding to your cat suit on top with conventional clothes (your picture on page 23 would be suitable covering attire if the shirt were replaced by a high necked pullover and you wore glovcs) such as slacks and pullover. Again l advocate slow progress: do not complete the exercise to become fully clothed until at least day 28.
“On days 28, 29 or 30 we should be ready to start the second phase of the experiment using a pair of ear muffles. After softening muillcs insert in ears and pull up hood; if you fee, that the hood is oppressive remove and substitute bathing cap. Wear for two hours”.
The advice continues through a further five phases before we get to wearing a gas mask But as much as 1 can see the value in gradually becomingaccustomed to the idea. I also see two snags. One, I have not the time during the day (or night) and two, I cannot see myself getting cither of my latex suits on over tights and a sweater. One evening recently I took a bath to warm me up before putting on my new latex suit and could not get it on at all despite using a tin of talcum- very puzzling, and did not improve my temper-so I could not see myself getting it over clothes unless f got a Size 20 instead of my normal Size 12.