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What is personal beauty ?
It is the combination of correct proportion and color with perfect performance of function.
Perfect performance of function requires health and grace; proportion and color are under the control of fixed laws of taste.
In accordance with this definition, our plan shall be to take up the human body as a whole, and then in its several parts, and show first what is the true artistic ideal of perfect form in each. Then we shall examine one by one the defects and imperfections to which each is subject, and how these may be remedied either by medical or by cosmetic art. Many such flaws in nature's handiwork we shall find may readily be prevented, or cured, or, at least, concealed, by simple means within the reach of all. But others require the hand of the surgeon or the skill of the physician. It is gratifying to think how few blemishes there are that by one or another means at our command may not be lessoned or wholly removed.
For the matter of color, which includes the complexion, etc., we shall treat of that in a chapter devoted to the skin ; and as the hair is, in the language of anatomy, an appendage of the skin, what we have to say about it will find an appropriate place at the close.
That other branch of personal beauty which treats of dress, the arrangement of the hair, and the study of corporeal grace, we shall but casually touch upon, as it
lies almost wholly aside from medical science, and within the exclusive jurisdiction of the artist.
But at the outset our fair reader who would be fairer must not understand us as promising too much. We do not come with an Elixir of Youth and Beauty, which she can drink at a draught, and bid defiance to Old Time? No! but in a hundred ways, here a little and there a little, by obeying rules of health, by diet and exercise, by devices of surgery, and by mysterious · arts of pharmacy, she will learn how to transform herself from homely into passable, from passable into attractive, from attractive into beautiful.
Is this candid confession a disappointment?
Alas! after all, it is only by self-denial that we can gain anything of consequence in this disjointed world of ours.
Il faut souffrir pour être belle; if we wish beauty, we must bear a smart or two. We must put up with them. There is no other way. Though many a one is like the French lady who announced her intention of visiting England, but declared she would not go by sea, as she was certain to be sea-sick.
“But, madame," objected one of her hearers, "England is an island."
“Oh yes, of course it's an island," she replied; “I know that well enough. But then, isn't there some way, perhaps, of passing around and reaching it by land ?"
THE HUMAN FIGURE AS A WHOLE.
ITS CORRECT PROPORTIONS.
VVERY young lady who has taken drawing lessons
—and nowadays, when fashionable seminaries teach all the arts and sciences, what young lady has not done so ?-knows that there are certain rules by which we form the outlines of the human figure. Each part must be in proportion to the others.
These rules were derived from a very careful study of the most celebrated ancient statues, and from measurements of the finest living models. They cannot be transgressed, even in the smallest degree, without offending a practised eye. The story is told of Lavater, the celebrated physiognomist, that on one occasion he visited a portrait painter to look over his productions. Presently he stopped before one of the paintings, and, pointing to the ear, declared that it was impossible that that organ, as represented, could have been associated with the other features. The artist, in surprise, confessed in that instance the sitting had been
incomplete, and that he had painted the ear from memory only. Fortunately few people are so critical as Lavater, or the artists would have a sad time.
We have no intention of going into such minutiæ, only proposing to give in general terms what the human figure should be, and what we shall say applies particularly to the female figure. For men and queens, says an old French proverb, have the privilege of being ugly, aux hommes et aux reines on passe la laideur.
The height should be exactly equal to the distance between the tips of the middle fingers of either hand when the arms are fully extended. Ten times the length of the hand, or seven and a half times the length of the foot, or five times the diameter of the chest from one armpit to the other, should also each give the height of the whole body. The distance from the junction of the thighs to the ground should be the same as from that point to the crown of the head. The knee should be precisely midway between the same point and the bottom of the heel. The distance from the elbow to the tip of the middle finger should be the same as from the elbow to the middle line of the breast. From the top of the head to the level of the chin should be the same as from the level of the chin to that of the armpits, and from the heel to the toe.
With these measurements at command any one can readily find out how near she approaches to the perfection of form. But let her not be dismayed at discover
CARE IN INFANCY.
ing sundry discrepancies. The matter is not to be understood too rigidly. These rules are intended to apply to a certain age and a certain style of beauty, and though true as rules, like all rules, they permit exceptions and suffer limited variations.
HOW TO PERFECT THE FIGURE.
Who would have a perfect form cannot begin too early. Nay, the mother should commence the physical education of the child long before its birth. Thus did the dames of ancient Greece who gave the world a race unmatched for beauty in all history.
So, too, during the period of nursing the careful mother will see to it that her child has abundance of good wholesome food, for nothing so certainly produces deformity as ill-nourishment. She will take care that the infant does not lie more frequently on one side than the other, for this will make it “lopsided;" that it is changed from arm to arm in nursing and carrying for the same reason; that it does not walk too soon, lest it become bandy-legged; that it does not wear tight clothing or bandages, as these will readily press its tender flesh and yielding bones into uncouth shapes.
Another period of life, where it is of the greatest importance that sedulous and intelligent care should guard over the child, is when she is passing through that momentous change which transforms the girl into the woman.