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- The Four Epochs of Woman's Life - 4/28 -
she gives up many of the hoydenish ways of childhood. The girl's imagination is more lively, and just at this time mathematics form an excellent subject for mental occupation. The girl now begins to question the whys and wherefores, and demands reasons for the course that is laid out for her, and is full of ideas of her own; so that while as a child she had accepted almost unquestioningly the commands of her parents, she can be managed now only through the power of reason. And this is just as it should be, for the girl has reached the years of discretion, and now is the time when her reason and judgment are capable of rapid cultivation.
HYGIENE OF PUBERTY.
Home Life; Corsets; Shoes; Underwear; Nutrition; Diet; Water; Constipation; School Life; Spinal Curvature; Exercise; Walking; Running.
"Every man is the architect of his own fortune."
Home Life.-- With beginning menstruation the equilibrium of the body is very easily disturbed, so that even in the case of the healthy girl some precautions should be taken and a rational regime should be adhered to; while in the case of the delicate girl a still more careful attention will have to be directed toward her weak points, in order that she may develop into a healthy woman.
For every girl at this time of life home is preeminently the place; so that she may not only have the benefit of a mother's watchful care, but also lead a life as free from conventionalities and as much in the open air as possible. No girl should be sent away to school at this period of rapid growth and development; nor should girls of the working classes, when it can possibly be avoided, be sent out to fill positions as clerks in illy ventilated stores, in factories, or as domestics. If a girl can be kept at home until she is eighteen years old, she will be a much stronger, healthier woman than would otherwise be possible.
Corsets.-- At this period of life it is particularly necessary that the clothing should be warm and at the same time sufficiently loose to prevent the constriction of any part of the body. And whatever the adult woman may elect to do in the matter of wearing corsets herself, she does her young daughter an irreparable injury by constricting and moulding her growing body in these corset-splints. Corsets placed on the young girl interfere with the functions of circulation, respiration, digestion, and of the pelvic organs, also with muscular development. In addition to all this, the girl is handicapped in taking all outdoor exercises and athletic sports.
The lungs, heart, and great blood-vessels are placed in and completely fill an air-tight, distensiblecage, which is most distensible at its base.
The least chest girth of the adult woman-- that is, the under-arm girth around the chest-- that is consistent with health is twenty-eight inches; and this girth must be enlarged three inches in forced inspiration. In ordinary respiration the waist expansion should be one-half to one inch, while during great muscular activity it should be from one and a half to three or four inches. One-third of the lungs lie below the point of beginning corset pressure, so that with tight corsets this amount of lung substance must be more or less useless.
It is self-evident that any restriction placed about the waist, by preventing the full expansion of the ribs and the descent of the diaphragm, will further embarrass the heart's action by diminishing the amount of room it has to work in, at the same time that it diminishes the amount of oxygen which is inspired. Fresh air is by far the most important part of the daily food. It is in the lungs that the blood throws off its carbonic acid and other impurities; but it is able to do this only when the lungs are supplied with an abundance of oxygen. Every inch which a woman adds to her chest measure adds to the measure of her days.
Great physical injury has followed women playing lawn-tennis while tightly corseted. And although dancing is a much milder exercise, since it frequently takes place in an overheated and poorly ventilated room, fatal results occasionally occur from the same cause.
Standing erect calls into action almost all the muscles of the trunk, neck, and lower extremities. So long as the line of gravity falls within the area of the feet, the muscular effort required is so slight that it is little more than the tonicity contained in all living muscle. The greater the displacement of the line of gravity, the greater the muscular effort required to maintain the equilibrium of the body. Up to a certain extent, exercising the muscle develops the strength and size of the muscle. On the other hand, when a muscle within the body is unused, it wastes; when used within certain limits, it grows. But when the corset splint is applied to the body of the young girl, it supplants the functions of the abdominal and back muscles, which is to hold the trunk erect, and these muscles gradually grow weak and waste. And so the liability to the various spinal curvatures is increased.
The original object of the corset was to give greater prominence to the hips and abdomen. But fashions change! In "the French figure" or straight-front corset now in vogue the pelvis is tilted forward, producing a sinking in of the abdomen and a marked prominence of the hips and sacrum, necessitating a compensatory curve of the spine which increases the curvature forward at the small of the back-- a deformity which, a few years ago, women were going to orthopedic surgeons to have corrected. In this attitude the line passing through the centre of gravity strikes the heels, the knees are hyper-extended, and the muscles of the calves and thighs are rendered tense.
By interfering with the muscular development and digestion, the girl is very apt to become angular, flat-chested, anemic, and to have a muddy complexion. And so the corset really defeats the object for which it was put on-- that of giving the girl a good figure and enhancing her beauty.
There is no objection to girls wearing any of the various forms of hygienic waists now on the market.
Shoes.-- The feet are the part of the body to come in contact with the greatest degree of cold, whether on the floor of the house or the pavement of the street. Hence it is a matter of prime importance to the entire body that the feet should be properly clad.
The thick-soled, flat-heeled shoes which became popular with bicycling and golf are most hygienic, and it is highly desirable that this style of shoe should be adhered to for outdoor exercise.
Underwear.-- In our cold and changeable climate the most suitable undergarment is the "combination" woolen undersuit, which reaches from neck to ankles and has long sleeves. Much greater warmth is afforded when the undersuit is moderately tight fitting. Such a suit should be worn the entire year, the grade of weight being adapted to the season.
Nutrition.-- The nutrition of the body is dependent on the food supply, digestion and excretion. The growing girl should eat more than the adult woman, because of her more active life and of the fact that the food which she takes must not only replace the worn-out material of the body, but also provide new material needed for growth. Insufficient food and food of defective quality and composition work proportionately for more harm during the growing age.
The full adult weight is not attained before the twenty-fifth year. When the final growth of the body and development of the vital organs is completed, the function of food is simply to replace waste with new material and to furnish material for the development of force.
Diet.-- The diet should be a mixed one, consisting of the various kinds of fresh meats, fish, milk, eggs, poultry, vegetables, fruit, and fat in the shape of cream, butter, and the fat of beef and mutton. Animal food improves the condition of the muscles, which are made firmer than they would be through a vegetable diet. Meat in general has a more stimulating effect upon the system and is more strengthening than vegetable food, and it gives rise to a sensation of energy and activity. The common estimate is that meat should occupy one-fourth and vegetable food three-fourths of a mixed diet.
Common salt in moderate quantity is essential, but all highly spiced or seasoned foods should be avoided, also pickles and vinegar. All "sweets" are harmful, because they destroy the appetite for other things and upset the digestion. Tea and coffee should be tabooed, as well as all alcoholic beverages.
Good digestion depends for the most part on serving the meals at the same hour every day, eating leisurely, and masticating the food well. There is a great tendency on the part of the school girl to sleep late in the morning, then "bolt" her breakfast in order to get to school in time. Nothing could be more pernicious to the digestion, unless it is the eternal nibbling of candy.
A healthy girl needs nothing between meals. A delicate girl will be the better for a glass of milk in the middle of the morning and at bed-time; or pure beef juice may be given instead.
Water.-- Water is needed to keep the kidneys properly flushed. The amount of urine secreted during the twenty-four hours should be three pints. Of course it will be less than this if the quantity of water is insufficient. In addition to the urine about ten ounces of water are lost from the surface of the lungs, and eighteen ounces from the skin, making a total of about five pints; and this quantity of water must be taken daily in order to maintain the equilibrium of the body. The solid food of a mixed diet contains from fifty to sixty per cent. of water, so that about twenty-five ounces of water are taken into the system daily as an integral part of the food. In addition, three pints more should be taken as plain water. The bladder acts as a reservoir for the urine, and should be emptied at least three or four times a day.
Constipation.-- In order to keep the digestive system in good condition, the refuse matter which collects in the lower bowel must be evacuated every day. And in order to secure this regular bowel movement, regularity in the time of going to the toilet is a prime necessity. And now is the time when the habits of a lifetime are being formed. If a tendency to constipation exists, it can almost always be overcome by increasing the amount of fruit and vegetables eaten, also by eating cracked wheat, oatmeal, corn and graham bread; all of which increase the peristaltic action of the intestines. The small amount of water taken by girls and women is another fertile source of constipation.
School Life.-- When it is considered that fully one-half of the girl's waking hours are spent in school or in study preparing for school, it becomes evident that the girl's attitude at her desk should be the
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