Ladies, You Need to Look Good for Your Man

I'm reading Molly Ivins: A Rebel Life, a biography of the sorely missed Texas liberal columnist by Bill Minutaglio and W. Michael Smith.

When Molly was eight months old, her father Jim Ivins was serving on the USS Gallup in the Coast Guard during World War II. He wrote this in a letter home to his wife Margaret:

I think your new stationary is solid, but how about a picture of you lately? I think you have a complex about your looks. When you put your mind on it you are one hell of an attractive girl. No woman looks good unless she worked on it and you don't work on it enough. I want you to be a stunner, babe, and you can be. ... The Chinese woman of the upper classes, they say, has only one aim in life -- to make herself attractive to her husband. Not a bad idea, hey?

Ivins went on to be a corporate attorney and general counsel for the Texas oil company Tenneco, raising his family in the wealthy River Oaks section in central Houston. In 1998, Molly Ivins wrote this about him in her column for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram:

(I started this column at approximately 8 p.m., April 19, knowing that my father had advanced cancer and anticipating that sometime in the next six months an obituary column would be required. I was planning to send him this column on the theory that he would like to know exactly what I thought of him. About 8:20, seven sentences into the column, I received a phone call informing me that my father had put a bullet through his brain. I am shocked but not surprised. And I continue.)

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