The features perfectness, and to the form
Its delicate proportions.
Diogenes and his lantern had an easy, simple task. If they had started out together to turn their searchlight of discovery upon a woman who was neither too fat nor too thin, no doubt they’d been poking around in other people’s affairs ever since. I once heard of a woman to whom the idea of gaining or reducing flesh had never occurred, but she died before I got a chance to look at her, so of course I am rather doubtful as to the truth of the story. To my mind she should have been made president of something or other or else been put on exhibition where the rest of suffering womankind could have gone and feasted their eyes upon such an impossible paragon. If there is not a general wail about over-weight or under-weight, then it’s a thin neck, or big hips, or an inclination to too much “tum-tum,” or skinny arms, or cheeks like miniature pumpkins—and goodness only knows what else. And by the time one particular horror is massaged out of existence another crops up like a spook in the closet of a “fraidy-cat” girl, and then the business is begun all over again.
Therefore, say I this: Don’t worry yourself into your grave about too much flesh or a lack of it unless you find yourself taking on the extreme proportions of a skeleton lady, or a museum exhibit of unusual plumpness. A thin neck may be a bad thing—as all girls so afflicted can testify—but if that thin neck is rebellious, and pays absolutely no attention to tonics or massage or other coddling for which it should rightly be grateful, then merely say, “All right, if you insist!” And turn your attention to other things. What admirer of feminine beauty would not look upon a bright mind, quick, kindly wits, and sweet lovableness as a thousand times more acceptable than a neck as round and perfect as that of a Venus?
On the other hand, let me say that, if you will merely look after your health—exercise every day, be out of doors, eat proper foods and take your daily sponge bath—you will keep your chest broad and full, and your waist trim and neat. Breathing exercises every morning are excellent for this happy condition of affairs. It is my firm belief that women could mold their bodies as they would if they only had patience and perseverance—not so much in flesh-gaining or flesh-losing, but in being wholesomely strong and healthy. This is most necessary, not only to prolong life and make it pleasanter and more livable in every way, but to be what God evidently intended—a robust, well-developed and perfectly formed woman.
Thin girls must be lazy and plump ones busy. If you work hard and have the usual load of worries that half the women lug about with them as they do their powder rags and their purses, then you may never hope to revel in a vast amount of fat. Fretters are invariably thin; they simply worry off the flesh faster than nature can create it.
When a woman is unusually slender it is her duty to get fat, not any more for the reason that she will look prettier with the angles filled out than for the reason that she will be stronger and healthier and in a better condition to resist illness and fatigue. She should have at least ten hours’ sleep out of twenty-four, and this must be healthy sleep in a well-ventilated bedroom, on a hard mattress, and with no high pillows to make her stoop-shouldered and of ungainly figure. A nap during the day is a good thing if one can afford the time.
Absolute freedom from care and anxiety are necessary, but—alas—we cannot always regulate the antics of fate or circumstances that deny us these sweet privileges. The diet must be of the most nourishing, and should consist mostly of food containing starch and sugar, such as good fresh butter, rich milk, cream, fruits both raw and cooked, macaroni, fish, corn, sweet potatoes, peas, beans, ice creams, desserts without pastries, and nourishing broths. Cereals, poultry, game, chocolate and sweet grapes are all excellent. Avoid all spiced, acid or very salty foods. While plenty of outdoor life is most essential, a great deal of exercise is not.
If there is any internal disease, especially the slightest inclination to dyspepsia or liver trouble, one cannot possibly gain flesh until the cause of the extreme slenderness is removed.
When the body is plump in one part and fails in another, either massage or a gymnastic course is advised. Dumb-bells and Indian clubs will develop the arms; massage with a fattening emollient, together with loose clothing, tepid baths and breathing exercises, will increase the size of the chest and bust, while swimming, moderate bicycling and walking are good for nearly all plaints of the thin lady.
But until these changes are brought about—and it will take lots of time—do not fret or worry. Merely wear your clothing very loose, substitute a comfortable little waist for stiff, unwieldy corsets, and see that your gowns are made full and dainty. In this last particular you will have an immense advantage over the woman who would sell the shoes off her feet to be thin and “willowy.”