Open main menu

Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 65.djvu/408

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
404
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

exercise a self-respecting care that their physical attractiveness may never exert the influence which in duty bound it should. The possessor of beauty is, to quote the immortal Bunthorne, 'a trustee' with responsibilities definite and grave. To ignore these, to suffer them to fall into neglect, is a misdemeanor in young or old.

Beauty may be marred by factors both psychic and physical. Physical deteriorations are of wide variety, some preventable and others inevitable. Where disease steps in it should be philosophically endured, but only up to a certain point, because even here apparent destiny need not be accepted as final. Disease is sin, hence preventable in great measure and remediable in a large degree. The greatest peril is from listlessness, self-indulgence or indifference, or, worst of all, from unwise meddlesome advice.

Can beauty then be increased by effort? Yes, and to a conspicuous degree. Can good looks be retained as age advances to, or beyond, middle life? Decidedly much can be done, even for those who in earlier years had little or none, and be made to remain with one till death. This is practicable, too, by the expenditure of only a moderate degree of time and pertinacity. The sine qua non, however, is a sincere and zealous desire for results. No tepid willingness will suffice. The arrogant woman or man who condescendingly submits to such measures as shall be outlined here, but fails to supplement them by earnest cooperation, should use time and strength otherwise. There must be an investment of hours and energy, and above all of intelligence. Along with this must be assumed a submission to some slight bodily discomforts, at least at first; by and by the means employed become a positive and unfailing source of pleasure and comfort and there soon arises an increased and sustained capacity for enjoyment and usefulness.

It is possible only to speak in general terms in so brief an article and to enunciate merely fundamental principles. These can be amplified in proportion to the wisdom and vigilance of each. They are best first taught in outline by experts and later can be systematized and pursued alone. The line of action should involve a clear notion of bodily hygiene, food, rest, sleep, bathings, care of the skin, teeth, hair, outings, clothing, etc. Every one may think he or she knows enough about each and all of these points, but will find that there is yet much to be learned if the subject is approached with an open mind. A great deal that is currently accepted on physical fitness is wofully archaic, and yet ample knowledge exists for those who search diligently. Recognized authorities are too often palpably ignorant in some important quarter, and all the dicta of teachers should be critically weighed in the light of advancing physiology, and only their tenets accepted if genuinely sound.