Friday, September 11, 2009

1. Physical Deformities.—Masquerading is a modern accomplishment. Girls wear tight shoes, burdensome skirts, corsets, etc., all of which prove so fatal to their health. At the age of seventeen or eighteen, our "young ladies" are sorry specimens of feminality; and palpitators, cosmetics and all the modern paraphernalia are required to make them appear fresh and blooming. Man is equally at fault. A devotee to all the absurd devices of fashion, he practically asserts that "dress makes the man." But physical deformities are of far less importance than moral imperfections.

2. Development of the Individual.—It is not possible for human beings to attain their full stature of humanity, except by loving long and perfectly. Behold that venerable man! he is mature in judgment, perfect in every action and expression, and saintly in goodness. You almost worship as you behold. What rendered him thus perfect? What rounded off his natural asperities, and moulded up his virtues? Love mainly. It permeated every pore, and seasoned every fibre of his being, as could nothing else. Mark that matronly woman. In the bosom of her family she is more than a queen and goddess combined. All her looks and actions express the outflowing of some or all of the human virtues. To know her is to love her. She became thus perfect, not in a day or year, but by a long series of appropriate means. Then by what? Chiefly in and by love, which is specially adapted thus to develop this maturity.

3. Physical Stature.—Men and women generally increase in stature until the twenty-fifth year, and it is safe to assume, that perfection of function is not established until maturity of bodily development is completed. The physical contour of these representations plainly exhibits the difference in structure, and also implies difference of function. Solidity and strength are represented by the organization of the male, grace and beauty by that of the female. His broad shoulders represent physical power and the right of dominion, while her bosom is the symbol of love and nutrition.


The proportions of the perfect human figure are strictly mathematical. The whole figure is six times the length of the foot. Whether the form be slender or plump, this rule holds good. Any deviation from it is a departure from the highest beauty of proportion. The Greeks made all their statues according to this rule. The face, from the highest point of the forehead, where the hair begins, to the end of the chin, is one-tenth of the whole stature. The hand, from the wrist to the end of the middle finger, is the same. The chest is a fourth, and from the nipples to the top of the head is the same. From the top of the chest to the highest point of the forehead is a seventh. If the length of the face, from the roots of the hair to the chin, be divided into three equal parts, the first division determines the point where the eyebrows meet, and the second the place of the nostrils. The navel is the central point of the human body, and if a man should lie on his back with his arms and legs extended, the periphery of the circle which might be described around him, with the navel for its center, would touch the extremities of his hands and feet. The height from the feet to the top of the head is the same as the distance from the extremity of one hand to the extremity of the other when the arms are extended.

Lady's Dress in the days of Greece.
Lady's Dress in the days of Greece

The Venus de Medici is considered the most perfect model of the female forms, and has been the admiration of the world for ages. Alexander Walker, after minutely describing this celebrated statue, says: "All these admirable characteristics of the female form, the mere existence of which in woman must, one is tempted to imagine, be even to herself, a source of ineffable pleasure, these constitute a being worthy, as the personification of beauty, of occupying the temples of Greece; present an object finer, alas, than Nature even seems capable of producing; and offer to all nations and ages a theme of admiration and delight." Well might Thomson say:

So stands the statue that enchants the world,
So, bending, tries to vail the matchless boast—
The mingled beauties of exulting Greece.

We beg our readers to observe the form of the waist (evidently innocent of corsets and tight dresses) of this model woman, and also that of the Greek Slave in the accompanying outlines. These forms are such as unperverted nature and the highest art alike require. To compress the waist, and thereby change its form, pushing the ribs inward, displacing the vital organs, and preventing the due expansion of the lungs, is as destructive to beauty as it is to health.