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of awkwardness in the minds of observers. In French, gaucherie, from gauche, the left, means clownishness.
It is next to impossible for an adult to overcome this habit. The best they can hope for is to gain a sufficient command over the right arm and hand to be able to use it at table, at the blackboard, etc., as others do. Still, they have for their consolation the example of many a poor fellow in the war, who having lost his right arm has acquired singular proficiency in a year or two with his left. We have in our possession several autograph letters of that distinguished soldier and philanthropist Major General Howard, who lost his right forearm at the battle of Fair Oaks. They were written about eighteen months subsequent to his wound, and the penmanship is quite legible and regular.
A want of symmetry in the shoulders is very common among those who write or paint steadily. The right shoulder usually becomes higher, and the bones more prominent. These persons should practise daily and regularly sitting with the left shoulder elevated and the right depressed. They should avoid lownecked dresses, and on state occasions conceal the lack of uniformity by a soft padding. A course of calisthenics is also of great service.
There is a complaint which would be comical were it not so distressing to the sufferer. It is that in which there is a partial palsy of one-half of the face. The
effect is most singular. Look at one side, and it may be smiling and full of expression; look at the other and it is motionless and inexpressive. In a much less degree this effect is not unusual. Often there is a want of innervation, that is, the nerve force is not distributed equally to the two sides of the face, and one-half does not correspond exactly to the other. If we examine faces critically from in front (not from the side, as there the profile common to both halves confuses our judgment) we shall rarely find one in which the sides perfectly.correspond. This is a misfortune or a fault which generally can, and always ought, to be remedied. When the difficulty is in the innervation, electricity applied by a skilful hand is of benefit; in other cases continued pressure or friction is effective.
RELAXED AND STOOPING FIGURES.
It is the proud distinction of man to walk upright. Every other animal must bend and hug the earth. Stooping we associate with age and infirmity. Therefore an erect figure has ever been deemed essential to beauty. Only some passing vagary of fashion would sanction a Grecian bend.” No one in the least acquainted with the laws of beauty would adopt or approve it.
A figure straight, lithe, and graceful will excuse a multitude of faults. It can be acquired with great
certainty if proper care is taken during the period of growth.
One of the most common blemishes is that of being “round-shouldered”—stooping forward with the upper third of the spinal column. This destroys the contour of the neck and the pose of the head. It throws the shoulders upward and forward, entirely depriving them of their natural, graceful slope. The chest is also hollowed, and the swell of the breast is thereby lost. Sometimes this habit is a consequence of debility or disease. It then demands special medical treatment. For ordinary cases exercise with light dumb-bells, and a careful avoidance of continuing long in stooping positions, will suffice. Shoulder-braces are largely sold, designed to hold the shoulders back. They are of value, but only as subordinate aids. What is wanted is to strengthen the muscles of the back, and qualify them to do their duty without fatigue and without assistance.
There is a disfiguring and painful disease called curvature of the spine. Thousands of women in this country suffer the agony of the rack, are hindered from all active usefulness or pleasure, and are wellnigh deformed by this terrible complaint. It frequently arises from some imprudence in getting up” after a confinement, sometimes from an injury, and very often from neglect of health at the epoch of change in young girls. It undermines their health
just as they are budding forth into womanhood, blasting their prospects when fairest, and shrouding in gloomy clouds the bright morning of life.
The reader may find elsewhere portrayed minutely the insidious, stealthy advance of this disease. Here we have to do with its prevention and its cure. It often leads to what is called “spinal irritation,” and is usually treated by blisters, by cups, by scoring the back with hot irons, and by long continuance in bed. These severe remedies may bring good results, but in most cases an entirely different and milder method may be employed with the best effect. It is that by support. The spine, the shoulders, and the sides are propped and sustained by light steel braces with springs and pads, so that the curvature is impossible. The patient is quite as much at rest when standing as when in bed, and the irritation and pain, caused as they are by the pressure of the spine in its unnatural position, disappear at once. We have known women who had never stood up for years, without suffering, walk erect and with ease as soon as a carefully-made, accurately-fitting brace was applied. But such an instrument must be
1 The Physical Life of Woman: Advice to the Maiden, Wife, and Mother. By Dr. George H. Napheys. This work has been highly recommended by the medical press of the country as a practical hygienic guide.
adjusted with scrupulous exactitude to fit the figure, or it will do more harm than good.
The same means may be applied with very beneficial results in another deformity quite common and indirectly quite noticeable; this is when the form is lost by child-bearing. This is often accompanied with distressing sensations of "goneness" and emptiness at the pit of the stomach. It gives a stoop to the figure and a shuffling gait. A well-fitting support here is all that is required.
One of the most common causes of ungracefulness in motion remains to be told. It lies in diseases peculiar to women. None but the physician knows how frequent these diseases are. None but he fully appreciates what a terrible foe they are to beauty, not to speak of health and happiness. The lady reclining on the fauteuil, and the wash-woman standing at the tub, victims to these distressing maladies, alike reveal in the positions they assume, and in the gait they adopt, an unconscious effort to save themselves," and to avoid the suffering which an unwary motion or a painful position gives.
What a marplot this is to beauty! What chance is there for free and supple motion when pain strikes through one at every unconsidered turn! And how common is the misfortune!
It were vain for us to go at length, or at all, into this subject. We can only say that so long as such a