"Intelligent Treatment of the Body." by Mrs. Marie Mott Gage.
Publication: Eagle, Mary Kavanaugh Oldham, ed. The Congress of Women: Held in the Woman's Building, World's Columbian Exposition, Chicago, U. S. A., 1893. Chicago, Ill: Monarch Book Company, 1894. pp. 737-739.
|MRS. MARIE MOTT GAGE.|
It is not necessary to argue in this enlightened day to convince women that a perfect physique is desirable. The day of the artificial is wholly past. The wasp waist, drooping shoulders and invalidism in general, which under the name of delicacy were wont to be admired, are now, thank Heaven! out of fashion. Women, the world at large, have learned that nothing is beautiful which is artificial; or, in other words, a perversion of nature. Consequently any new theory or system of physical culture advanced today must, at the very outset, prove itself to be scientific–strictly in accord with the sacred laws of health–or it will be promptly rejected. True beauty can not be cultivated without the most careful observance of health laws, consequently the development of physical beauty has today the full sanction of modern science, and rests upon a sound scientific basis. Listen: if you would be beautiful, if you would have an admirable physique, you must have exercise in the open air, pure air in the house, proper food, sensible hygienic clothing, frequent baths and plenty of refreshing sleep. Again, if you would be truly beautiful, you simply must practice self-control. You must not, at the peril of your beauty, indulge in evil passions, such as envy, hatred, malice and anger. Why? do you ask. Because all violent emotions by unduly contracting the facial muscles, not only rob the face of its calm dignity, [Page 739] always one of its chief charms, but also tend to harden the entire countenance, engraving harsh, rigid lines where only softest curves and dimples belong. Again, unhappy states of mind habitually indulged, particularly fretfulness, discontent and despondency, by depressing the animal spirits, tend directly to paralyze the sympathetic nerves which control the vital functions. The general physical tone or vitality being thus lowered, stagnation more or less complete of all the vital organs is the sure result. Those members most directly and unfavorably effected are the stomach, liver and heart; and right here, in indigestion, torpid liver and sluggish circulation, is to be found the origin of nearly all unhealthiness, and at the same time the chief blemishes of beauty. Is it not a most significant fact, and one worthy of respectful attention, that every noble, worthy, generous, gentle and pure emotion, without one solitary exception, tends directly to beautify the face and to produce physical grace? The beautifying power of love is well known. Under the magic influence of this gentle and tender emotion the hardest face will soften into lines of beauty. Sometimes the transformation is so marked that beholders are amazed and wonder how it is that homely, commonplace Mary is actually growing beautiful. On the other hand do not fail to observe the boldly destructive work of all harsh, violent, ignoble and selfish emotions stamping their ugly traces deep into the brow and about the mouth. Obtuse indeed must be the woman who does not read between these lines a message both of warning and of inspiration. I would have every woman understand that it is worldly wisdom to cultivate an angelic disposition. Why, I personally know numbers of beautiful women who simply can not be ruffled by any annoyance. The world wonders at their remarkable preservation of youthful charms, their grace, their loveliness. Only those who penetrate into the charmed circle of their private life can know that the physical beauty so largely a reflection of the angelic spirit is the result of absolute self-control. The woman who realizes that she is undeniably plain and unattractive should at once take a strict and careful inventory of her traits of character and her ruling emotions. She must show herself no mercy in this introspection–beholding herself "as in a looking glass." If she be an intelligent woman she will not go about the task in an aimless, haphazard manner, thereby lessening her chances of final victory. She will not only take a rigid inventory of her defects, but also she will seek out the most scientific and trustworthy methods for their eradication. She is doubtless in danger of becoming disheartened, but she must be made to realize that her case however serious is not hopeless; that it all rests with her whether she shall continue to sit idly down and nurse her defects, silently envying those graces in others which she lacks, or whether she shall nobly gird on the armor of high resolve and successfully encounter and overcome every foe. I have a gospel of hope for every daughter of Eve. I hold that there is no woman blessed with reason, average physical endowment and good common sense, who may not, if she will, become an ideal woman after her type.
Mrs. Marie Mott Gage was born in Vermont. Her parents were Hon. Ashley Mott, a professor of physical sciences, and Rosetta Abigail Graves, also a teacher. She was educated at Vassar College, receiving in 1885 the degree of B. A. Her specific aim is to teach women how they may make the most of themselves physically; how by intelligent observance of Nature's laws, physical beauty and grace may be developed and retained. Her principal literary works are contributions to the "Century," Harpers' publications, Christian Union and New York Tribune. Her profession is chemistry as applied to the manufacture of toilet preparations. She is a member of the Protestant Episcopal Church. Her postoffice address is Chicago, Ill.
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