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From The Hygienic Dictionary
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Source: Papers On Health
This produces such serious deformity, and in many ways
so interferes with the health of women, that we are constrained to
write upon the subject. We find in cases which come before us that
lacing, both of the feet and the waist, as practised by our women, has
caused disease, and prevents our curing it. To begin with the lacing of
boots. There is a certain form and size of foot which are supposed to
be graceful. To obtain this, boots unsuitable in shape, and far too
small in size, are used, and tightly laced down upon the foot and
ankle, preventing circulation of the blood in these important parts.
This causes corns and misshapen toes and nails; but its bad effects are
also felt throughout all the body. We have pointed out in other
articles the great curative power of bathing or fomenting the feet. The
tight lacing of boots produces exactly the opposite effect. It is as
powerful to injure as the other to cure. Cold feet are the cause of
many most serious troubles. To keep tight-booted feet warm is almost
impossible. True neatness abhors all such mistaken treatment of the
feet. Moreover, no supposed good shape, in body or feet, can ever
produce the impression of beauty which good health never fails to give,
so that the tightly-booted high-heeled girl or woman defeats her own
A yet more serious evil is the wearing of corsets. From this comes very
much of the ill-health from which women suffer. The stomach, liver, and
other organs are forced downward, their proper blood supply is cut off,
and indigestion, constipation, headache and backache are the inevitable
consequence. The pressure of these organs causes falling of the womb
and the terrible troubles which employ two-thirds of the fashionable
surgeons. These have not failed to denounce the folly which brings so
many patients to them.
Dr. Herbert Snow, the great authority on cancer, and physician to the
London Cancer Hospital, attributes almost wholly to the use of corsets
the fact that for one man who dies of cancer two women die of it. The
compression of the womb makes it specially liable to be attacked, while
the rubbing of the hard edge of the corset on the breast sets up cancer
Besides its evil effects on the abdominal organs, the lungs also
suffer, the ribs are prevented from expanding and so the wearer can
never breathe as deeply as is necessary. The muscles of the abdomen and
trunk are greatly weakened; indeed to this is due the fact that a woman
who is accustomed to corsets has great difficulty in giving them up.
She feels as if she would "come to pieces" if not supported by them.
The exercises given in the appendix will help to restore tone to these
muscles, and with perseverance in these, vigor and health will return,
and the deformities such as flat or hollow chest, drooping shoulders,
and protuberant abdomen, caused by muscular weakness, will disappear.
As we have said (see Skin, Care of) clothing should be loose and
porous in order that the skin may perform its functions. Corsets are
both tight and impervious. The constriction of any part of the body by
tight bands, and the hanging of the clothes from the hips, are highly
It is frequently urged that corsets are necessary if a woman is to have
well-fitting clothes and a neat figure, but this is by no means the
case. We illustrate a "good health waist" which has the advantage of
allowing freedom of movement and respiration, producing no constriction
of any part, and yet being well-fitting. Buttons are arranged, as shown
in the illustration, to support the skirts so that their weight falls
equally from the shoulders. This waist can be had from the Good Health
Supply Department, 451 Holloway Road, London, N., who will send
particulars on receipt of a post card.
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