Sunday, 7 June 2015

Diet advice from one century ago!

The Fashion Talk

Let's go straight to the point and face up to reality: we live on a helpless world, where the most important value is probably beauty (Averagely talking, of course, let's not have stereotypes). Sounds scary to say this, and we would one hundred per cent like to pretend the average woman/man doesn't care, but we incessantly rely on beauty and fashion icons. 
I'm not saying this is either wrong or right, I strongly believe that criticizing society is a mistake since  it would be impossible to change it in any way. In fact, the only thing I'm trying to do today is restore your faith in humanity, but letting you know that yes, even before the 21st century people were quite obsessed with dieting and styling. For millennia genetic programming has told us to eat when we can, to eat what we want for it's what our body needs and the fear of crests and wars suggested to always do so. For the past century or so, instead, concerns about obesity and such disorders resulted in there creation of a true diet holy literature.
That's why I looked for some diet advice dating back to the first decade of the nineties, that could possibly turn out to be quite useful for the 2000's generation... hope you enjoy! 

The first thing you must acknowledge, before you even think of getting on a diet, is if you really need to loose weight, r you are just a curvy woman or a muscular man.
This is how Mrs Kellerman suggest to find out what your real condition is, in her book "Physical Beauty, how to keep it", published in 1918:

 "Here are a few tests to determine how much of you is real woman and how much is just plain fat. In the first place stand before your mirror nude and look yourself over…Now bend over in various attitudes. Are there unsightly wrinkles and rolls of loose flesh? Lie down on a bed or couch on your back…With your free hand grasp the loose skin and flesh that lies above these muscles… if you are too fat there will be big rolls of loose flesh above the tightened muscles"

"The woman who is too fat will frequently, though not always, have loose busts. She is likely to have excessive hips. Her knees and ankles, instead of being trim and shapely are likely to be soft and puffy"

Back to 1901 also the anonymous writer of "Beauty's aids, how to be beautiful" with a rather pungent wit explains another method to define your body shape:

"A very thin woman is not beautiful, but she can be graceful even to a remarkable degree; but what shall we say of an old woman, overflowing with fat, no longer possessing a human form, much less the form of a woman, always gasping, sweating, and breaking out into redness at the slightest movement, looking, in short, vulgar, ridiculous, and half-bestial"

It may be interesting to know that even before the 19th century there were diets, as we can see from "The woman beautiful" from Hellen Follett Jameson, who published her book in 1899. Here's what she had so say:

"[The fat woman] gets into clothes that are skin-tight, and she draws in her corset string until it snaps and gives at every breath and sneeze, and even then she does not look graceful and pretty, for the fat — like secrets — will out, and it rolls over and around like the little bumps and humps in a pudding bag"

Ehm... quite rude, right? Indeed, these writers from the nineties could be rather strict when it comes to judging a woman's body, probably stricter than we are today, even though we keep saying we live in a society where beauty is everything. Just have a look at these random phrases:
"Sleep must be limited to seven hours, and daily naps are strictly tabooed. [The Woman Beautiful]"

"Banish all thoughts of going back to bed. Instead begin your rolling. There is no mystery about rolling. It is simply what the name indicates. Down upon the floor you go and roll over and over swiftly, not slowly as a porpoise rolls. The porpoise, you will observe, is not a slender animal. Roll over as a puppy, tingling with the joy of life, rolls in the dust when at play. Roll quickly. Make at least 80 revolutions before stopping. [My Secrets of Beauty, Cavalieri]"
"Mere napping about for those who already have too much rest and luxury is suicidal to both mind and body. Oversleeping at any time makes one stupid and logy, yes — fat. [Physical Beauty, How to Keep it]"

There are many other evils beyond corpulence that result from excess in eating, and a badly arranged dietary. Among them may be mentioned a deranged digestion, a loaded tongue, an oppressed stomach, vitiated secretions, a gorged liver, plethora and its consequences, a sluggish brain, with horrible dreams during sleep, and depression when awake. [Foods for the Fat: A Treatise on Corpulency and a Dietary for Its Cure, Nathaniel Edward Yorke Davie]

Now, we shouldn't take to seriously all of these purposes, for studies weren't as advanced as they fortunately are today; in the 1890s and before there were some weird beliefs, even silly for our mindset but still very pervasive and persuasive at the time. 
One of those (the queerest we must notice) was that water had a fattening effect on the human body. Water was indeed thought to be interfering with gastric juices, which could actually help weight loss, if allowed to attack food. The theory was first explained by Thomas King Chambres in 1852, in his essay Corpulence: Or, Excess of Fat During Pregnancy. 
His work was professional supported by some of the era's most respectable doctors, who wrote medical advice for women. And surprisingly, he wasn't the only want to think water could be fattening:

Do not drink much water. A little lemon juice added to it will make it less fattening. [The Woman Beautiful]

First and most important, drink very little, as little as possible, and only red or white wine, preferably Burgundy, or tea or coffee slightly alcoholized. [Beauty's Aids; Or, How to Be Beautiful]

In America the number of fat people is growing larger every year and the suffering endured by this usually good-natured class of people is tremendous. As a matter of fact, a great deal of this discomfort might be avoided if people would not drink such an inordinate quantity of ice water and could be made to understand that thirst does not lie in the stomach and that it is not satisfied by pouring down water by the glassful. [Beauty, Its Attainment and Preservation]

Crazy, isn't it? If we ever thought that we were the ones obsessed with diets, we know found out it was always like that, and even (let's be honest) worse, since since wasn't really enough developed yet.

Have a good day everyone, let's think less about beauty and more about brain,

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