Monday, July 27, 2009

Getting Thin and What It Looks Like: An Historical Perspective

In addition to my J.D., I have two other graduate degrees (and am working on another one right now). During my studies for one of them, I did an in-depth paper on college women's body images (and body image dysphoria). I did a lot of reading for that paper and found that there were some interesting methods of weight loss during the Victorian period.

While women came to understand some principles of dieting and would also take 'gentle strolls' to exercise early in the 1900's, prior to and even concurrent with this, there were the practices of corsetry, melting, and rolling.

Many of you are familiar with the idea of corsets. Can we say, "Ouch!"? Some of them sound VERY painful!

But there were a couple of other, possibly lesser known techniques employed by the poor, hopeful women of the Victorian period who were aiming to shed some pounds. One was melting. Women would put on a very tight rubber suit and sit in a tub full of water that was heated as much as possible (Ouch again!). This was thought to 'melt' off women's weight.

And then there was rolling. As you might guess by its name, women rolled on the floor continuously in hopes that some pounds would begin to slide right off as they did this.

Of course(t) :), maybe some of our options of weight loss today aren't always so much better: anorexia and bulimia nervosa, for example.

While I certainly share with my sisters of yore in their struggles to take off the weight, I'm so thankful that we have WLS available today. Otherwise, I too might be donning my rubber suit and heading into a watery inferno every morning. Yikes!

Oh, while I'm on an historical roll (pun intended), I also think it's amazing that time has shown such diverse standards of beauty from Renaissance to Retro.

Saying that, though, I personally want to be healthy. That may be more on the bigger side for me or more on the smaller. But I think being at my optimal level of health is what's important. People in my profession tend to pass away at a younger age because of the stressful life we lead (taking on others' problems and crises as our own is a big factor in that). There are lots of heart attacks and that sort of thing. I don't want my weight to be another reason I might cock up my toes sooner than I might otherwise.


  1. Hey, cool history lesson, I didn't know any of this: and thankfully, as you mentioned, we live in the right here and now and not then... can you imagine how the planet would tilt with all of us rolling around to get that weight off. Go WLS!!! lol