By Martha H. Verbrugge
As city existence and women's roles replaced within the nineteenth century, so did attitudes in the direction of actual overall healthiness and womanhood. hence learn of future health reform in Boston among 1830 and 1900, Martha H. Verbrugge examines 3 associations that popularized body structure and workout between middle-class girls: the women' Physiological Institute, Wellesley collage, and the Boston common institution of Gymnastics. opposed to the backdrop of a countrywide debate approximately woman tasks and wellbeing and fitness, this ebook follows middle-class ladies as they realized approximately health and wellbeing and explored the connection among health and femininity. Combining clinical and social heritage, Verbrugge seems on the usual girls who participated in wellbeing and fitness reform and analyzes the conflicting messages--both feminist and conservative--projected via the idea that of "able-bodied womanhood."
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Additional info for Able-Bodied Womanhood: Personal Health and Social Change in Nineteenth-Century Boston
The principles of health carried as much authority as did any other holy decree. "The commandments which God has written in the constitution of these mortal bodies," declared Dr. "48 To practice the lessons of physiology was to obey the divine order, while to violate them was to repudiate a moral duty and, in effect, to sin. Although New Englanders came to question their belief in an autocratic and intrusive God, their assertion of personal control, ironically, made little difference in their conduct.
The following discussion does not attempt to determine the extent to which middle-class Bostonians heeded the advice in health literature. Rather, it identifies those elements in the model of personal health that resonated with their concerns. What guidance did physiological reform offer to middle-class Bostonians who sought a cure for the disorders in their lives? The effect of health literature is also difficult to assess because its contents were not uniform. Although most writers agreed on certain general principles of health, they differed on how personal wellbeing might be achieved and identified.
As a complement to guilt and fear, prudence measured the strength of one's will-power and the limits of one's commitment. To live healthfully was as much a test as an opportunity. Success, then, depended on conscience as well as prudence. Derived from one's moral sense and confirmed by rationality and intuition, conscience was regarded as one of the higher human faculties and a quality more noble than mere expediency. According to moral philosophers and physiological reformers, conscience propelled individuals to choose the right path for its own sake.