Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 42.djvu/387

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WILL THE COMING WOMAN LOSE HER HAIR?

size and weight as to strain every hair at the root, and produce continuous headaches; and while their headgear may not be of quite so preposterous a shape as man's, they wear it much more constantly, since they sit with their heads covered in all public places, while he as a rule wears his hat only out of doors. Then, too, women, as a general thing, enjoy much less vigorous health than men, eat less nourishing food—pickles and candy often constituting a large part of their diet—are more frequently sufferers from headaches, deficient circulation, general debility, and Heaven only knows what not; and yet, with all this, the sorriest specimens of the sex, physically, often luxuriate in the most abundant suits of hair.

Now, why should one sex enjoy such comparative immunity from the results of practices that are producing such disastrous effects upon the personal appearance of the other? The answer, I take it, is to be found in a cause which Mr. Darwin claims to have been the chief factor in all cases where the purely ornamental qualities of a species are concerned—sexual selection. While women, under the pressure of public sentiment against "old maids," and the more urgent pressure of material necessities, will, as a general thing, marry anybody they think likely to give them a support, regardless of personal defects or attractions, men are more fastidious, and it goes without saying that a bald-headed woman would stand little chance, to use Mr. Darwin's argument, of leaving offspring to inherit her deficiencies. I have never known a woman who would make a bald head an invincible objection to a man who was eligible in other respects. Most of them are indifferent to that peculiarity, while some even like it; they think it looks intellectual, as more than one young woman, unsuspicious of the grave scientific motive underlying my frivolous "chaff," has assured me.

After occupying myself for some time with observations upon old and middle-aged people, it occurred to me that the influence of this subtle factor, sexual selection, could best be determined by observations upon boys and girls under twenty, in whom, it is to be presumed, the influences of heredity have not yet been supplemented, to any great extent, by other causes. Accordingly, I had printed, and sent out to teachers and school superintendents, five hundred blanks, calling for statistics on the subject, with the request that they be filled and returned to me within the year. Of the five hundred, eighty-six were returned, and some of these contain discrepancies that render them practically worthless—a result, be it remarked in passing, which betrays a curious indifference on the part of teachers to matters of biological interest. The Atlantic City schools are the only ones from which I succeeded in obtaining anything like a full report, my efforts being ably