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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 65.djvu/409

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The one central thought which I wish to emphasize is the paramount principle that beauty of form depends upon accurate adjustments of the skeletal structures along with the fullest possible elasticity of the tissues. Perfect equipoise assumes elasticity of muscles and complete mobility of ligaments and tendons consonant with their functions along with capacity for fullest relaxation. Further, as age advances and disease or mal-use exerts its deforming effects, undue pressure is placed upon vital structures such as blood vessels and nerves, and innervation and circulation are interfered with, less or more, until as middle life passes and plasticity subsides, various noble tissues are impaired and vital organs suffer functional limitations. For instance, the eye, the ear, the brain thus fail to maintain perfect nutrition, and acuity of vision, hearing and cerebration lessen steadily, unless the tissues of the neck are kept free from rigidities. The fact is obvious enough and capable of easy demonstration, that the more elastic person enjoys fuller organic competence than one whose tissues are dense or rigid.

Density is bad enough, for reasons cited, but it is worse if deformity is added. For thereby is not only the caliber of blood vessels and nerve fibers, tendon sheaths, structures of the thorax, etc., compressed, but the lungs, because of thoracic incompetence, become incapable of exerting their full duty in oxygenation, and the power of the great oxygenating grounds, the muscles, begins to wane. Ugliness inevitably follows, not confined to shapelessness and warping, but color suffers, not only of skin or hair, but congestions or lividities are shown upon eyes, lips and nose. Nothing so centralizes the esthetic effect as the condition of the eyes; if these are clear and bright much else is overlooked.

Again, inadequate oxygenation and lymphatic stasis are correlated. Mere bulkiness is not displeasing to the eye, and many fat people are exceedingly handsome, often graceful, and exhibit most agreeable lines and color. A far more uncomely appearance is produced by the unhealthy thickening of tissues, only too common, occurring about the waist line from lymphatic stasis in those otherwise not overnourished. This water-logged condition often indicates grave departures from health and is capable of much amelioration, oftentimes it can be entirely removed, and always with advantage to health as well as to appearance. Free exercises will not accomplish so much as elasticizing movements judiciously increased, full passive stretchings, readjustments and full accurate breathing. It is true that violent and prolonged gymnastic performances will do a good deal, but these are often not feasible, or are distasteful, and the intelligent employment of personally directed exact movements can always be most safely relied on. The one essential principle is accuracy, with increased forcefulness to the limit of tension, with intervening periods of complete relaxation.