1869: Shun Small Waists

I finally got around to taking some books out of my car trunk: those that had been purchased on my travels to New England back in August, along with a bag of books that some friends donated to the Miss Abigail collection recently. These newest books are listed over here at Library Thing. The ones dated pre-1940 in this list were purchased at a used bookstore in New Bedford, Mass. All the rest, some varying editions of others in my collection, are from my friends Sarah and David, who tell me they come from the attic of a grandmother who sadly passed away recently. Grandma had quite the collection! I’m happy to take it in.

To give you a taste of the new books, here’s a little something from The Science of a New Life by John Cowen. Published in 1869, the book is “most respectfully and lovingly” dedicated “To all the married, but particularly to those who contemplate marriage.” The following is from a lovely chapter titled “Qualities the Man Should Avoid in Choosing.” A wife, that is.

An outward indication of an abnormal, unhealthy and unphysiological life is a small waist, whether abnormally natural, or caused by the wearing of corsets; avoid them as you would the plagues of Egypt, for they encompass sickness, premature decay and death. Such women are not capable of pure love, or right judgment, or, what is so essentially important, giving birth to healthy, vigorous offspring. Their very souls are malformed in harmony with their bodies. Some men admire small waists, but they are men who possess but a modicum of brains–or, if otherwise, they may admire, but they carefully guard against ever marrying them. If it is your desire to secure a wife that will be free from eternal nervousness, headache, pains, ill temper, and especially if you aim to have children that will not be sickly and short-lived, I pray you avoid marrying a woman with a small waist. I consider this matter of large waists such a necessity, in a woman who aspires to be a wife and mother, that, to impress it more positively on the minds of all men in search of wives, I will again repeat, in large letters, SHUN SMALL WAISTS, and act on the rule of “NATURAL WAISTS, or no wives.”

Now that’s pretty convincing. Think “Small Waist or Natural Waist” should be a new search filter on Match.com?