By Martha H. Verbrugge
As city lifestyles and women's roles replaced within the nineteenth century, so did attitudes in the direction of actual overall healthiness and womanhood. consequently learn of health and wellbeing 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 general tuition of Gymnastics. opposed to the backdrop of a countrywide debate approximately lady tasks and health, this booklet follows middle-class girls as they discovered approximately wellbeing and fitness and explored the connection among health and femininity. Combining clinical and social heritage, Verbrugge seems on the usual girls who participated in health and wellbeing reform and analyzes the conflicting messages--both feminist and conservative--projected by way of the idea that of "able-bodied womanhood."
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Extra resources for Able-Bodied Womanhood: Personal Health and Social Change in Nineteenth-Century Boston
59 With this behavioral yardstick, the normative content of health became explicit. To measure health, one need only ask to what extent an individual satisfied the moral code of the day. The answer depended on who a person was as much as on how well he or she behaved. Since people did not share the same physical requirements or 42 ABLE-BODIED WOMANHOOD social positions, one could neither expect nor condone uniformity of habits. For example, a child, a shopkeeper, a longshoreman, and an invalid needed different amounts of food and rest.
Others, however, questioned certain features of the cult of true womanhood. Their quarrel was not with femininity per se, but with societal limitations on women's interests and activities. Breaking ranks with conservative health reform, a sizable number of popular physiologists encouraged middle-class women to widen the perimeter of their separate sphere, for the sake of both womanhood and health. For example, some health advocates opposed any restrictions on 44 ABLE-BODIED WOMANHOOD female exercise, especially among the young.
1" Dio Lewis, a noted health reformer, agreed when he declared that "motion is the great law of the universe. . "14 Exercising an organ allowed it to function properly, whereas the absence of activity brought degeneration. According to physiologists, there were two requisites of healthy action: first, an organ had to be constitutionally receptive to stimulation, or, in a word, excitable; second, it had to receive stimuli that were suitable in type and amount. 15 There was no consensus about the material or vital origins of excitability, but theorists agreed that it was essential for bodily processes.