Health - Beauty - Power
( Originally Published Early 1900's )
"To be strong is to be happy."—Longfellow.
EVERY young woman has a right to the inherent desire within her heart to be beautiful. To be beautiful, how-ever, we must have health; and when one has beauty and health, one has power—the power to radiate and to attract ; the power to do and to be—and that is life in all its richness and fulness.
And how shall this be acquired? Artificially some might say; but—among people of reasonable refinement the artificial beautifying—the laced-in waist line, the powder and paint, the rank perfumes, and the oily pomade, are relegated to the past. One still sees these artificial products among uncultured people—the uneducated, the shoddy, and often among the new rich. We shall assume, however, that we are none of these, but rather that we recognize that no carmine can take the place of rich blood's own flush ; that no true grace of form comes except through ease and freedom; that no jewels can compare with clean, regular, white teeth and finely kept nails; no oil compensate for neglect of cleanliness of the scalp and the vitality of well brushed hair.
All these any girl may have, for they demand time and attention only.
But for the possession of health—real health—one must enter upon a more strenuous round of duties. Let us review them one by one.
Bathing.—There is more in bathing than for surface cleanliness—far more. The whole mass of tissue which makes up this vehicle, which we call the body, is constantly building up and as constantly breaking down. Not a movement of the hand but some tissue cells break down and make themselves ready to leave the body by one of the three pathways by which Nature directs the body to clean itself of tissue debris. Moreover, having provided the body so generously, she demands on penalty of life that every particle of waste matter be expelled.
Drink water, drink water; eat fruit, coarse grains, she urges, that there may be perfect elimination through the kidneys and digestive tract. Neither shalt thou neglect the millions of tiny tubelets that carry away in the form of perspiration so large an amount of decomposed matter.
Nor will mild bathing, with soft and oily soaps, suffice. There should be vigorous, frictional bathing; for by that only do we clear away whatever clogging there may be at the mouths of these millions of tubelets.
Moreover, this gritty soap—whatever it may be—must be thoroughly rinsed off after it has performed its service lest it remain to clog the very tubelets which it has freed.
And even this is not enough if we would make bathing serve its full purpose. Now and then there should be used the steam bath—Turkish, Russian, or, what is just as well, the home cabinet steam bath.
Especially should young people with facial blemishes resort to the steam bath, for often the blemishes disappear under steam treatment not of the face but of the whole body. The natural accumulated debris rushes to those doors which are open. If then there are millions of open doors all over the body, there will be less crowding at those of the face. It is a pity that our facial specialists do not better understand this simple law, and so treat the face less and the entire body more.
Eating, and right eating, is one of the two processes by which the blood is given that from which it can make itself rich.
Breathing, and deep breathing, for by this alone is the blood supplied with the oxygen which it must have.
Exercise helps greatly here. Indeed, deep breathing without accompanying physical exercise is foolish, physiologically speaking. Exercise, and the breathing will take care of itself ; but exercise vigorously—so vigorously that the heart increases its beat; the glow of bodily warmth is felt; the eye brightens and the face flushes. Torpid circulation is at the bottom of every known disease. Indeed, one often hears a physician say, "There is but one disease—congestion; and there is but one cure—freed circulation." And this is literally true in the early stages, before actual degeneration of tissue has taken place, of all disease.
Sleep.—Nature's great restorer ! In these days of nervous conditions one can hardly have too much of this particular form of rest for the eyes and nerves. But let us be sure that the sleeping room is cool, and that windows are open. Pile on the coverings if need be, gather them up around your ears, but let the oxygen come to your lungs freely. Let us not be so foolish as to wait until Nature's resources are exhausted before we take the simple "fresh air" cure.
Womanhood.—Over and above all these, important as is each, there is one other source and means of beauty, health, and power—all three—and that is the life force that manifests itself at fourteen or thereabout, and which brings with it, or should bring with it, that splendid glow of health and glory in the splendid vigor and brilliant glow that comes, or ought to come, with the coming of womanhood. This is Nature's crowning work, and to her it is most sacred. She gives grandly, gloriously ; at this period of life, often she fills a hitherto frail body with strength and bounding impulse; she rounds out the physical angularities ; she brightens the eye, and a new warmth glows ; she arouses the deeper emotional life; she brightens intellect; she intensifies desire ; she awakens the soul.
But for all this Nature demands only that the young woman, to whom this soul awakening has been given, shall respect it; reverence it ; and sacrifice a little now and then to the comfort and for the good of this newly awakened organism.
Happy is the young woman whose life at this period is free and unconstrained ; who may live in the open, and who is free from the artificial conditions of city civilization. Such a young woman may lay now the foundation for future health and happiness, and for successful fulfilment of life, be it in the home as wife and mother, or out in the world of competition.
During a child's whole life Nature has been storing up energy for this period of womanhood, and now it is that she brings into life and action the newly developed organisms which seem of themselves a reservoir of vigor, both physical and mental.
And Nature has very positive ideas of what she wishes done with this splendid new force that she so generously lavishes.
She means that this stored-up energy of childhood, and this new activity, shall work together, acting and reacting upon each other for the young woman's future welfare. But, alas, in these days of complex living, we too often turn this new vigor into artificial paths. Our schools steal from Nature's storehouse, and then what happens? Let Nature answer. She says : I stored up energy through your childhood to make a splendid physical being—one with bounding health and vigor; brilliant color; clear eye; and fleet, graceful, supple muscle; but you are using it for study, for society, and for a thousand things for which I care nothing. Listen to me before it is too late ; else pay your trice.
But does this mean that school and society shall be ignored? Not at all, only this, on two days at least out of every twenty-eight, there is that going on within the mechanism of every young woman's life which makes beauty that is the just heritage of every young woman.
In this every girl should glory. It is Nature's convincing work in the individual, and to her it is most sacred above all else in the universe for her health, and beauty, and power. No sacrifice is too great, if great sacrifice be demanded, for healthy womanhood is precious above all else in the human economy.
Dr. Stanley Hall, the best friend young manhood and young womanhood have ever known, says—and with his all sufficient plea for noble young womanhood, let us close :
"Puberty for a girl is the floating down a broadening river into the open sea. Landmarks recede, the water deepens and changes in its nature; there are new and strange forms of life; the currents are more complex ; and the phenomena of tides make new conditions and new dangers. The bark is frail, liable to be tossed by storms of feeling, at the mercy of wind and wave, and if without chart and compass, and simple rules of navigation, aimless, drifting in the darkness of ignorance, amidst both rocks and shoals, may make of the weak or unadvised, wrecks or castaways. . . . For four or five days in a month the girl's system will be depleted, and there will be lassitude with peculiar susceptibility to physical or nervous shock. Instead of shame at this function, girls should be taught the greatest reverence for it, and should help it to normality by regularly stepping aside at stated times, for a few years, until it is well established. To beings who looked down upon human life as we do upon the flowers, these would be the most interesting and most beautiful hours of blossom. With more self-knowledge woman will have more self-respect. Savagery reveres this state, and gives to woman mystic awe. . . The time may come when we shall change the divisions of the year for woman, and allow to her Sabbaths that shall be grouped in fours, four consecutive days per month. And Sabbaths these should remain—days superior to others, devoted to leisure, to other thoughts, to religious sentiments. . . . When woman asserts her physiological rights she will begin here, and will glory in what in an age of ignorance, man made her to consider her shame. . . Then she will not profane her own Sabbath of biological ordination, but will keep it holy as unto the Lord, for we have hallowed it as a day of blessing from on high."