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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 65.djvu/413

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CONSERVATION OF HUMAN ENERGY.

largely deviate shape and carriage. Lack of variety in movements due to repetition of laborious acts exerts a modifying influence, usually for harm. It is not the effects of fatigue on the entire organism, but rather continued repetitions of movements by which the one part most exercised adjusts itself along the lines of least resistance to do its work most comfortably, which produces a warping of the unused complemental part. And finally the most potent agency of all in producing awkwardness and tension is exaggerated hyperconsciousness.

By far the largest proportion of those peculiarities of gait and carriage which are noticed in almost every one, although they may begin primarily in some structural peculiarity and are modified by dress and occupation, nevertheless are exaggerated enormously by this over-consciousness which affects somewhat every one. It will be plain to those who will reflect for a moment how differently they will walk and act in the privacy of their own rooms or among their families and friends from that which they will present if called upon to exhibit themselves in some public position. Let any one remember the time when first called to walk the floor of a crowded room while for a moment the cynosure of a large number of watchful and presumably critical eyes. Here the hyperconsciousness may become so marked as to produce in some a mental agony, which will be vividly reflected as a rule in suppressed writhings or contortions. This effect upon the body may not be outwardly shown to any marked extent, but an irregularity of tension is produced in the various parts which distinctly mars their natural ease of action or attitude.

Many of the deformities which come upon women are not recognized by them as such, and yet to the critical eye they are departures from the normal lines of development, and the results of habitually faulty attitudes, not present in youth. They need not have been acquired except through the artificial restraints of custom and a desire to conform to conventional poses. Such are the stiff or awkward and certain hyperconscious positions assumed by a lady when arrayed for display in public; witness the indrawn elbows, the contractured hands, either clutching a portion of her dress or a pocketbook, or both. It is apparently against the canons of taste to permit any freedom of motion, either at elbow or at shoulder. The gait becomes a constrained strut, because it is practically impossible to allow the thighs to move with naturalness and ease. In mobile adolescents, this is not so offensive to the observer, but as age creeps on and youthful elasticity is gratuitously sacrificed, as well as rapidly lost from senile changes added to disuse, the picture presented of an elderly woman parading the thoroughfares is too often a repulsive one. On the other hand, if she ceases striving to make a good appearance and abandons herself to indolent attitudes, to droop and slouch, the spectacle is even worse. This unfor-