“Her grace of motion and of look, the smooth
And swimming majesty of step and tread,
The symmetry of form and feature, set
The soul afloat, even like delicious airs
Of flute or harp.”
Stooped shoulders is one beauty ill that is wholly unnecessary. Any girl with a little energy and will power can make herself straight and bestow upon herself a good carriage. It is entirely a matter of doing and persevering. Most of us know remedies for our small failings, but how many of us apply them persistently until a cure is brought about? Few indeed, and more’s the pity.
When starting the reform always bear in mind that the chest must be held upward and outward. When this is done it is not necessary to keep the shoulders back in a forced, strained position, and so make little crowfeet in the back of your gown. The benefits of holding the chest thus are more than one—or two, either, for that matter. If practiced continually it will strengthen the lungs. It will also develop the chest and neck as no masseure of miracle-working fingers can ever hope to. Breathing exercises are also excellent.
Incorrect positions during sleep cause many stooped shoulders. The big fat pillow of our grandmother’s day is the worst kind of a horror. No pillow at all is best, and after one becomes accustomed to sleeping that way it will be found much more restful and altogether comfortable. The best position for sleep is to lie face downward, with the arms straight at the sides. Of course, I am fully aware that most women sleep curled up like kittens, but they can change their ways if they will but try.
The woman with straight, good shoulders never carries her arms heaped full of bundles, for that draws them forward and makes them droop as dismally as an ostrich plume in a blizzard. Instead, the “budgets” are carried with the arms down at the sides. Neither does she clutch the back of her skirt in that bantamlike fashion practiced by the woman of less judgment. The back breadths of her new tailor-made are grasped about six inches from the belt, and held up just so that they clear the ground. Hats worn deep over the eyes are not desirable, this wise woman also knows, for however tightly they are pinned to one’s back hair, they are mighty likely to keep one’s body at an uncomfortable slant.
Shoes of high heels and narrow toes can be bad, for the wearer is plunged forward in an ungraceful and line-destroying attitude. The low-heeled, square-toed shoe—that is now in vogue—is the thing to wear, and blessed be to the designers who expose womankind to a rational understanding of what she should wear on her much-abused little feet!
The tailor-made gown is serviceable as a promoter of good figures, for usually, unless one keeps one’s shoulders back, the front of the bodice proceeds to lay wrinkles in itself and so spoil the good effect that women love as they do their pet jelly dishes and their Dresden teacups.
Other things to be remembered are: Always stand on the front or ball of the foot and keep the knees straight. Carry yourself so that a string extended downward from your chest would reach the floor without touching another part of the body. Do not push your head forward and do not be in a hurry so that you will waddle along like a little duckling with absolutely no grace or carriage. Dress comfortably, have your clothing well fastened, and your gown loose enough to give your lungs opportunity for the full expansion that, for the sake of your health, they should have.
Make sofa cushions of your pillows and sleep always face downward, flat on the mattress. Last, but not least, don’t be a woeful lady and amble along in a disconsolate, sloppy-weather fashion that is so utterly hopeless that I could never set before me the awful task of suggesting a remedy. One of the secrets of happiness and success is cheerfulness. Men and women and even babies like cheerful folk, while they will race their overshoes off trying to get away from the unhappy ones of dismal tales and many worries. Be cheerful, even though the laundress has washed your best handkerchief into a real-lace sieve, or the rains and snows of winter have descended upon your best wardrobe and made a pocket edition of a rag-bag thereof, or even if the gas range has blown itself and all the kitchen windows into the next block. Be cheerful at all hazards! It pays! Really it does!