Fig. 1 shows a side-view of the viscera of the abdo men and pelvis in a woman a little above medium height. The dotted line, A, marks the sacral promon tory. B, the superior border of the pubic 'bone; the pelvis lies below these points. The uterus, C, lies partly above its upper boundary line, or brim. D, the bladder partially filled; E, the vaginal passage.
Contrasting figures 1 and 2, you will notice that in the latter the upper portion of the abdomen, at the stomach, is depressed or hollowed, and the lower pushed outward. The depression of the contents of the upper portion overcrowds the pelvis so that its organs lie almost upon the pelvic floor. This pres sure is sometimes so great that the floor is pushed as low down i,ts the lower points of the sitting bones, so that the perinwal muscles, instead of closing firmly about the anal and vaginal openings, relax and permit sometimes the partial escape of some of the displaced organs.
The outlines of Fig. 3 were carefully made from statuary; the true waist line is shown by the belt. The dotted lines indicate the narrowing and length ening of the waist by pressure at the sides and downward. We not unfrequently find a long waist, measuring at the bottom twenty or twenty-two inches, when the full shoulders and hips say plainly that twenty-five or thirty inches would be the natural proportions at tl?e true waist line.
A young, growing miss puts on her corsets, and then adjust the skirts of her clothing by five or six bands, all fastened, unsupported, about tl?e waist; this bur den, by actually tested weight, sometimes reaches six, eight, and ten pounds. This weight of clothing, with or witl?out corsets, fastened about the soft, yielding walls of the trunk, is Olen pushed and pulled down as far as possible. This, with the ever-present force of gravitation, soon drags everything before it that can yield. We cannot wonder that, with such dress, walking, horseback-riding, or ordinary household em ployments, and going up and down stairs, not only fatigue the wearer to exhaustion, but cause real in. jury. Falling of the bowels, and displacement Of the pelvic organs, bring as their sure consequences local congestion, and a train of so-called diseases of women, disordered circulation, debility, and general ill health. Add to such a method of dress, hard physical labor, a sedentary life indoors, bad dietetic habits, inducing habitual constipation, and you have no trivial source of feebleness. I have again and again found women harnessed with an internal and external supporter, when the clothing was dragging downward from gravitation alone, with fourfold the sustaining power of the so-called "supporters." A woman can sacrifice one half tl?e power and value of the muscles of the trunk, and one-third of her general muscular activity, from badly adjusted dress alone. Often, for years before marriage, even from childhood, such a founda tion has been laid, slowly but surely, for those ail ments peculiar to women, so that where unusual strain or muscular exertion — maternity, a miscarriage, or the endurance of more than ordinary fatigue —comes, the strained muscles give way. It is from causes such as these that many weaknesses, so often unjustly attributed to maternity, arise. The design of dress is, first, comfort and protection, then adornment; and when it is a source of disease, instead of a means of defence, it should become a matter of practical education until all women carry the entire weight of their clothing from their shoulders, wear it equally and naturally distributed, and retain the power of full respiration. With weakness of the muscles And displacement of the organs of the abdomen and pelvis, there is also loss of power to expand the lower half of the lungs. Filling the lungs to the bottom moves the stomach and bowels by depressing the diaphragm or floor of the chest, which is called abdominal breathing. This full respiration has been so far lost, in our own and some European countries, that one French physiologist gravely tells us that women were made to breathe with the upper portion of the lungs only, and that full respiration would disturb the fragile structures of the abdomen and pelvis. There is no greater necessity for full abdom inal breathing in any living creature than with women, and I have never seen this useful work better done than by girls, and women of all ages, when they were not restricted by dress, and made good use of their natural power. The free use of the abdominal muscles is essential to good breath ing, which can be only partial when they are weak and relaxed. The bones in the corset, and bands about the waist, as well as the weight dragging from them, press downward upon the flexible abdom inal walls, holding them, when sitting, with such firmness that the diaphragm is almost wholly re strained in its movement downward. I have seen many women who, in their best efforts to breathe, did not move the abdomen perceptibly, and, when this is the case, the individual breathes with the upper half of the lungs only. It is not difficult to
see that the use of the upper half of two lungs is equal to but one entire lung, and though persons can live with but one lung in use, we do not predict for them a very healthful or vigorous life. Respiration limited to one half, or even three fourths of the natu ral lung capacity, is necessarily an added source of debility to invalids suffering from serious mat-posi tions of the abdominal and pelvic viscera. With women, equal distribution of the clothing is even more important than with men. In their dress, the feet are not usually well protected, although they require to be clothed more warmly than any other part of the body, for the coldest stratum of air is always about them. Chilling of the feet and legs drives the blood to the pelvis, abdomen, chest, or head as powerfully as any influence I know in causing congestion. In climates where the average tempera ture is half the time, in winter, below freezing, all per sons, women especially, should wear, over the cotton hose worn in summer, a pair of good woollen hose as warm as can be found. The cotton hose beneath are essential, as they absorb moisture, and can be changed so as to obviate the dampness of feet which is so trying with some persons. Warm shoes should also be worn, and not changed for slippers all the winter through, except to move about in a warm room. Warm clothing of the feet is a protection from con gestion in all localities where the individual is weak est. Too many thicknesses of clothing are sometimes worn by ladies from the waist belt over the lower portion of the trunk, consisting of five or six folds of material over the lower half of the spine, pelvis, and abdomen, which induce undue heat in that portion of the body. The custom of wearing heavy folds of chamois skin upon the front of the chest does not afford half the defence to those having weak lungs that is given by the proper clothing of the feet. There are no "chest-protectors " extant like those worn upon the feet. I would call the attention of all women to the style of undergarment planned so as to clothe every part of the body equally. In win ter, an entire cotton garment next the skin, covered by an all-wool flannel of the same style, worn over it, is of great advantage in.the way of warmth and pro tection, as it secures two warm air-chambers about the body, beneath the garments. The flannel, when worn next the skin, soon becomes encrusted with its debris, and is then not cleanly, but when worr out side a cotton garment it does not require so frequent' washing. Every mother and care-taker of girls should make themselves acquainted with these decided im provements in the dress of women; as much of the suffering of girls at fourteen would be saved by warm and equal clothing of the extremities in early life. • •Constant study, without sufficient out-door life and general physical development, is unfavorable in the extreme to women. I had, not long since, a patient of nineteen, a daughter of Prof. —, who began to show epileptic symptoms. She was tall, slight, anmmic, and very nervous; the brain ab sorbing, in its undue activity, the strength that was necessary to keep up the physical functions. In addition to needful medical directions, a measur ably active life in the open air, deep respiration, a dress lifting all pressure from the abdomen, and a diet generous but not stimulating, was enjoined. An hour only of reading or study, and an hour of violin practice, of which she was very fond, was the extent of mental employment allowed, other than that as sociated with physical activity. Eight hours of rest at night, and one of absolute quiet at noon, were important items also in her list of directions, In seven months she became, to my surprise, a ruddy, almost buxom-looking miss, with bright eyes, and weighing full twenty-five pounds more than when I first saw her. " I am very well," she replied to my inquiries, " but I have been doing some things you may not approve. You gave me permission to ride horseback as I grew stronger, so I teased my grand father to let me ride the horse before the cultivator upon the farm. I enjoyed it very much, and after a time rode nearly all day. I then persuaded him to allow me to ride upon the mower and reaper, and I did not find it any harder than horseback riding. I was lame all over at first, but grew better all the time." The most careful review of her condition revealed only improvement, and there is no reason why she may not remain in good health if she lives properly, giving the brain and body each its due share of innervation. Medical treatment, without a change in all her life habits, would have failed to relieve her. Failure to make the best of the Cre ator's gifts renders us unworthy of them, and when we sacrifice such valuable ones as health and vigor, for self-gratification or pride, we barter pure gold for tinsel.