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- The Four Epochs of Woman's Life - 3/28 -

attention was paid to her physical development. The woman naturally became a bundle of nerves, highly irritable, unreasonable, and hysterical. All this reacted in the most detrimental manner upon her physical health.

The seed for much of this emotional hyperesthesia is sown in childhood. From birth until the end of the eighth year should be one grand holiday. During this time the child develops very rapidly, especially during the first two years of life. And at the end of the eighth year the brain has attained to within a few ounces of its full weight. The muscular system has been developed together with the coordination of motion. The child has learned to use a language fairly well; she has developed an excellent memory and is most inquisitive and acquisitive.

Another method for undermining the healthy tone of the nervous system is the intricate dances taught very young children and then placing them on public exhibition, where they are wrought up to the highest pitch. From a purely medical standpoint, children under eight years of age should not be allowed to take dancing lessons. After this age a moderate amount of dancing in a well-ventilated room is good exercise.

Children's parties belong in the same category, and, on account of the injurious effects on the nervous system, should be tabooed. They are too exciting, and cause an overstimulation of the nervous system and a precocious childhood and puberty.

Instead of rearing an oversensitive hot - house plant that must be fragile in the extreme, strive to rear a sturdy plant that can hold its own amid the storms. The child should spend as much of its life as possible in the open air, and in the warm months live out-of-doors. City children should be taken to the seashore or country to spend several months every summer. Together with outdoor sports, gymnastics adapted to the age of the child should be begun early and continued throughout life. Good muscular development is attended with good digestion and a well-balanced nervous system.

Until after the twelfth year there should be absolutely no difference between the physical, mental, or industrial education of girls and boys. And, still further, they should be encouraged to have their sports together; this will improve the girls physically and broaden them mentally, and will do a great deal to take the rough edges off the boys. After this age it will be wise to allow slight barriers to grow up, without calling the attention of any one to the fact, that will cause the companionship to be less free and unrestrained.

Age for Going to School.-- Although the child may be allowed to go to kindergarten long before this time, it should not be allowed to enter the school-room before eight years of age. And from eight to twelve years, not more than four hours a day should be spent in study. After this time it may be put down more closely to intellectual work; but no more mental work should be required than will enable the girl to enter college at eighteen. And eighteen years of age is as young as any girl should be allowed to go to college; after this age the mind is more matured and acquires knowledge more easily than before, while the development of the body is less rapid. The physical system has become more stable. The literature indulged in by girls under eighteen years of age should be most carefully selected.

The Effect of the Study of the Scientific Branches.-- A knowledge of the laws of nature is essential to health; hence the necessity for the study of the natural sciences-- anatomy, physiology, chemistry, physics, and zoology. Aside from the intrinsic value of this knowledge, it is almost universally conceded that these studies develop the judgment; and no one will have the temerity to deny that a lack of judgment must undermine the health as well as the success and happiness of the individual.

Industrial Education.-- When it is considered how intimate are the relations between the physical and the psychic states, and how often the psychic condition leads to actual disease, and that often of the most incurable type, it needs no demonstration that a mental occupation which will take the woman out of herself is a physical necessity. Therefore when the girl has reached the subjective limit of her intellectual education,-- that is, when she has reached the limit of her capacity or taste,-- it is essential to her physical well-being that she should turn her attention to some industrial occupation. This may be housekeeping or any other occupation for which she has taste or talent. A healthy mental occupation is an absolute necessity to prevent the individual from becoming self-centered. And to become self-centered is the first step on the certain road to chronic invalidism.

A most important part of an education is the knowledge of how to procure the most perfect development of the body possible, and how to maintain the health. This has not been touched upon here, since the outlines for the general physical education have already been given in "Hygiene and Physical Culture for Women,"* and the present volume concerns itself only with the four critical epochs of woman's life.

* By Anna M. Galbraith, M. D.; published by Dodd, Mead & Co.

With this broad view of an education, as a means to procure the best physique possible; a mind disciplined to meet to the greatest advantage all the vicissitudes of life; an intellect developed along the lines of its greatest possibilities; and an occupation chosen in accordance with the tastes and talents of the individual; it becomes an incontrovertible fact that the education is the controlling factor in the physical life of every woman. _________________________________________________________________

"Be not simply good; be good for something."

THOREAU. _________________

PART I.-- MAIDENHOOD. _________________



Sexual Development; Age of Puberty; Physical Changes at Puberty; First Onset of Menstruation; Psychic Changes at Puberty.

"Self-reverence, self-knowledge, self-control, These three alone lead life to sovereign power."

-- "OEnone."

Sexual Development.-- Sexual development goes on during all the years of childhood, but is not complete in the female sex until between the twenty-second and the twenty-fifth year. If the child has no inherited taint, and has been properly educated morally, physically, and intellectually, it must follow that the structural development of the pelvic organs has been normal; and normal organs always perform their functions perfectly.

The commencement of the ovarian function does not cause any more profound change in the system and habits than does dentition. The various epochs of life are generally spoken of as if they were paroxysmal-- as though they were separated by some tremendous chasm, which had to be leapt over or fallen into. Nature makes no such egregious blunders; preparations for every change in life have been going on for a very long time before the evidences of such change become manifest.

In a healthy girl the psychic and physical changes incident to puberty occur so gradually as to escape the girl's own notice. The first and, if the girl has not been properly prepared for it, always startling change is the appearance of the menstrual flow. The mother who has not told her daughter of this coming change in her life before it is due has committed a serious error; it is no uncommon occurrence for girls who know nothing of this function to get into a tub of cold water to stop the flow; and if they stay in long enough, it generally does stop, and the girl's health may be ruined for life.

The opinion of Dr. Ely van de Warker is that "if healthy ovulation is the outcome of healthy childhood, the function will obey the law of periodicity year by year, and all this time the young woman will be able to sustain uninterrupted physical and intellectual work as well as the young man. Not that the laws of health may be violated with impunity at puberty or any other time of a woman's life; but a law of health is no more binding upon a young woman than it is upon a young man; and there really is no such thing as one law for women and another for men."

Age of Puberty.-- In the temperate regions the age of puberty is reached between the ages of twelve and fourteen years. The girl is then said to be nubile; that is, as soon as menstruation appears it is possible for her to bear children; but she is by no means sufficiently developed to do so, as she herself will not be completely developed physically or mentally before the age of twenty-two or twenty-five years.

Physical Changes at Puberty.-- The physical changes that gradually take place, beginning at the time of puberty, are: the breasts, pelvis, and neck enlarge; hair develops over the pubis and in the arm-pits; the voice alters. As a rule, women continue to grow in stature until the twenty-fifth year. It is said that brunettes develop sooner than blondes, and that large women develop more slowly than women of small stature; city girls develop younger than girls brought up in the country. Whatever stimulates the emotions causes a premature development of the sexual organs; as children's parties, late hours, sensational novels, loose stories, the drama and the ball-room, talk of beaux, of love and marriage, and children being surrounded with the atmosphere of riper years. It is generally believed that early stimulation of the sexual instincts leads to the premature establishment of puberty, as do also spiced foods and alcoholic beverages.

First Onset of Menstruation.-- Sometimes the first menstrual discharge appears suddenly, lasts for a few days, and then stops; it may appear after an interval of two or three weeks, or not for several months. If for several months the flow appears at the regular time, and the quantity is about the same as the first, the menstrual habit may be said to be established. The mode of onset varies considerably within the limits of health. So long as the general health remains good, no anxiety need be felt in regard to the establishment of the menstrual function.

In other cases there may be a discharge of blood at the first period, and none afterward for several months; in other words, menstruation may be established suddenly, intermittently, or gradually. It must be remembered that certain pathologic conditions cause many disturbances connected with the onset of puberty.

Psychic Changes at Puberty.-- The angular, gawky feeling gradually disappears; the girl becomes self-conscious; new impulses arise, and

The Four Epochs of Woman's Life - 3/28

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