Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 46.djvu/158

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.

addition twice or thrice weekly, and ends her day with her books or in society, depending upon her environment.

These engagements leave her about one hour's time for outdoor life and exercise, and this consists for the most part in a walk on the avenue, or a shopping expedition which often ends in a crowded, ill-ventilated store. Riding and driving are recreations, as a rule, only indulged in by the favored few. Her summer may be a season for physical freedom, but is often one of social dissipation spent in the atmosphere of a fashionable resort.

The product of these various influences is intellectually more or less successful; certainly the American girl, clever, versatile, accomplished, is an interesting type of our civilization. If we analyze her physically we shall find that she possesses the first qualification of a fine physique—viz., height. Bowditch's measurements of ten thousand public-school children in and about Boston show that in stature they surpass their English neighbors, who are popularly supposed to be superior in that respect. The writer has measured between eight and nine hundred New York city girls and women, and has found the average stature with them equal to Bowditch's measurements, sometimes surpassing them, many exhibiting unusual height. In breadth of shoulders, waist, and hips the measurements show them to be fairly well developed, although the American type appears to be less generous in this respect than the English or the German. Happily, the tendency of the day to out-of-door sports has thrown the slim-waisted girl into the shadow of unfashionableness, so that this species of deformity does not necessarily constitute part of the type. In these and certain other respects Nature has evidently intended by her original drawing to give the girls what we may call a fair chance.

But the average city girl of our experience has two or three marked physical deficiencies that are worth considering. The first of these is a shallow chest, the second is a lack of symmetry in the body, and the third is a deficiency in muscular development. The relation of the depth of the chest to the development of the vital organs is a highly important one. The "deep-chested Juno" is given us as a type of noble physical development, and we rightly associate such a conformation with what is known as the staying power. A deep chest offers a generous cage for a robust heart and expanded lungs, and is almost invariably found in athletes, who must have endurance, as well as in singers, whose efforts likewise must be long sustained. It has been found that persons most susceptible to the infection of phthisis commonly have a conformation which has been called the phthisical habitus—viz., a long, rather narrow, and especially a shallow chest, flattened from before backward. Whether Americans exhibit this