I like you just the way you are” is a comforting phrase to hear, especially if it’s spoken by someone you care about.

But when it refers to your figure it is wise to accept the compliment with reservations so that you will not be lulled into security and finally find yourself with a shape that bulges hither and yon.

When you are sweet sixteen you can be a roly-poly and still look attractive, if the upholstering is evenly spread. But later on, overweight is quite a different story, for the padding seems to bank up in such unwanted places – on hips, around the waist, along the legs and upper arms.

After 30 birthdays, calorie pruning is a “must” for people who are inclined to put on weight.

On the other hand, “I’m on a diet” are fighting words in other quarters, because they automatically suggest faddy or starvation eating habits that make the banter haggard, waspish, and hard to get along with in the family circle.

But many a woman who has eaten herself out of a good figure does the reverse by the simple expedient of lopping 200 or 300 calories a day off her ordinary food. It can usually be done by avoiding between-meal nibbling, or by a slight rearrangement of the kinds of foods eaten.

This kind of dieting is slow, but it is practically painless and safe, seeing that most people habitually eat more than they need, anyway.

In other words, accent vitamin packed menus; have broiled rather than fried meals and fish; fresh fruits two or three times a week instead of desserts. Cook vegetables so that they retain maximum mineral and vitamin content.

Whether under or over ideal weight, the same rules hold good for seekers of health and beauty have a sound eating plan and do some suitable exercise. The two are linked under the heading of figure care.

And, speaking of exercise, alibis are apt to take the place of daily physical jerks unless the willpower is whipped along, for frankly, unless the daily dozen is refurbished with new routines at intervals, the whole thing can become the sort of bore that you seek to shelve.

It is only when the east-west line shows visible signs of shortening that those ten minutes dedicated daily to beauty seem worthwhile.

So do make a point of varying your exercises and perhaps include some of the simple kinds of massage mentioned later, which you can do for yourself to good effect.

For the most pleasant and beneficial body massage, of course, the services of a trained operator are needed. Obviously, some parts of the body (the spinal column, for instance) cannot be reached with your own hands to massage with any strength. Once you experience the delightful sense of relaxation at the hands of an expert masseuse, you will always enjoy it.

Stretched full-length on a warm, wet bath-towel, the muscles are stroked, kneaded, slapped, and pummelled back and front, the skin is smoothed and hosed down, and you are finally tucked away comfortably between blankets in a relaxed glow.

Of the numerous ways in which massage can be applied, pressing a technique used for pepping up circulation, in which the thumbs rest on one point while the fingers describe smooth, deep, rhythmic circles – can be done by the individual, and will be found effective to warm up cold hands and feet.

Use the cushions of the four fingers of one hand to press in a series of circular movements on the back of the other hand, and up the outer side of the arm to the elbow. Press in circles, also on the inner side of the arm, over the wrist and up the inside of the arm, to the curve of the elbow. Press solidly in a pattern of overlapping circles that travels in the direction of the blood-vessels for warming purposes. Use both hands on each foot in turn.

Pinching is another adaptable movement when used to tone up flabby muscles. It sounds painful, but the speed with which it is done blurs the reaction. A fold of skin is picked up between the thumb and first and second fingers in a pinching movement, is released suddenly, and the hands shifted to pinch again and again in quick succession over the area involved.

Probably the need to reduce is the reason that impels most average women to sign up for a course of massage appointments.

This sort of treatment is certainly pleasant, easy, and lazy, with somebody else doing all the work for you. It will work too, but the catch is that you do not stay reduced after one course of massage unless you are also correcting diet and lazy habits to prevent the thickness returning.

In other words, professional massage can slim the waistline, narrow the hips, correct a double chin, but it will not KEEP the waist slim, the chin from doubling, and so on, unless you stop eating too much and exercising too little.

Fat acts as a cushion for the skin that covers it, and when a lot of padding disappears sometimes the skin falls into folds because it has nothing to keep it taut. Proper massage prevents this from happening by tightening down the skin and hardening down the muscles progressively.

To streamline lumpy legs employ your ten minutes for beauty in kneading, pressing, and wringing the fat away. Use some preparation to prevent friction – talcum powder has a quality known as “slip,” which makes manipulation easier and prevents skin irritation.

Get down on to the floor for the job, and start by grasping one ankle with both hands, thumbs held together on top. Pressing deeply, in short hops work up to the knee. Return to starting point and repeat many times.

Vary by circling the hands from ankle to knee against each other. Now grasp the flesh in both hands and knead it thoroughly.

Give yourself an abdominal massage, where it is needed, by lying flat on the back, stomach muscles relaxed, knees bent. Use both hands, and knead gently until the whole area is covered.

A wooden rolling-pin is the home-spun equivalent of the hand-roller used in beauty salons to discourage cushions of flesh across hips and along the inner thigh. The drill is to roll the cylinder back and forth vigorously with determination.