Able-Bodied Womanhood: Personal Health and Social Change in by Martha H. Verbrugge

By Martha H. Verbrugge

As city lifestyles and women's roles replaced within the nineteenth century, so did attitudes in the direction of actual well-being and womanhood. therefore learn of healthiness reform in Boston among 1830 and 1900, Martha H. Verbrugge examines 3 associations that popularized body structure and workout between middle-class ladies: the women' Physiological Institute, Wellesley university, and the Boston common university of Gymnastics. opposed to the backdrop of a countrywide debate approximately lady tasks and wellbeing and fitness, this ebook follows middle-class girls as they realized approximately healthiness and explored the connection among health and femininity. Combining clinical and social background, Verbrugge appears to be like on the traditional girls who participated in health and wellbeing reform and analyzes the conflicting messages--both feminist and conservative--projected by way of the idea that of "able-bodied womanhood."

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Neither inner sensations nor outward appearances, however, were adequate testimony of personal health. According to popular physiologists, the true litmus test of health was behavior. On the one hand, they argued, good character and conduct were necessary for well-being. One's every exertion, whether physical, mental, or emotional, influenced one's body. By living in accord with moral precepts and social norms, a person met the first condition of health. The converse held true as well. Since cleanliness and godliness were synonymous, health was the cornerstone of propriety.

2 Even more distressing was the indifference of people who understood the laws of life and health, but chose to violate them. "Multitudes abuse their bodies because they do not know the mischiefs they are perpetrating," Beecher asserted. "3 Both knowledge and conscience were essential to the campaign for health. Without the guidance of truth, good intentions might go awry; uninformed by morality, knowledge invited abuse. As a writer in the Moral Reformer and Teacher on the Human Constitution observed in 1835, "There is something else necessary, besides mere light.

As Dio Lewis explained, "A sick woman's face may be exquisitely moulded; she never appeals to our imagination. "57 A woman need not sacrifice her desire to be attractive in order to be healthy; she could now look good by living well. Neither inner sensations nor outward appearances, however, were adequate testimony of personal health. According to popular physiologists, the true litmus test of health was behavior. On the one hand, they argued, good character and conduct were necessary for well-being.

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