Ms 2, 1877

Ms 2, 1877

Proper Dress



Formerly Undated Ms 91. Portions of this manuscript are published in ML 146; 1877 HR articles.

Many lives have been sacrificed in conforming to the demands of fashion. And few sense the fearful responsibility this incurs. When hoops were in fashion, we were pained to listen to the arguments of many professed Christian women for the necessity of wearing them for the health. They could walk better and work better. Little girls were seen imitating their mothers in fastening upon their little forms something to distend their dresses like hoops. The mothers argued their healthfulness, why should not they wear them? Children conformed to this fashion. The hoops distended the skirts that they could not fall naturally about the form and give warmth to the body. The extremities were chilled. Thousands of innocent victims were sacrificed to the hoop fashion. 3LtMs, Ms 2, 1877, par. 1

Even those who profess to be reformers in the matter of dress have imbibed narrow views of the subject and fail to consider it in the broadest and fullest sense. Many conceive of dress reform as consisting alone in a shortening of the dress to escape the floor by several inches, and having effected this, they flatter themselves that they have done all that is necessary. Although the shortening of the skirts is well enough so far as it goes, yet their dress may still be unhealthful in many respects. The lungs may be compressed by tight-fitting bands, waists, or corsets, which hinder the free flow of blood through the system. It is essential to health that the chest should have room to fully expand, so that the lungs may be enabled to take full inspirations of air. Many who have died of consumption might have lived their allotted term of life had they dressed in accordance with the laws of their being. The strength of the system is, in a great degree, dependent upon the amount of pure fresh air breathed. If the lungs are restricted, the quantity of oxygen received into them is also limited, the blood becomes vitiated, and disease follows. Confinement indoors and consequent deprivation of the invigorating sunlight and the exhilaration of exercise in the pure open air complete the ruin begun by wrong habits of dress; feebleness and premature death are the result. 3LtMs, Ms 2, 1877, par. 2

The dangers resulting from a compression of the waist are not realized by the majority of women, though many able pens have treated upon the subject. Many claim that tight-lacing is now nearly or quite abandoned, and such may think these remarks quite uncalled for; but it is true today that the corsets and dress of most women <compress the lungs, liver, and heart and are altogether health-destroying and do not give room> for the proper action of the vital organs. The lungs, heart, and liver are burdened in their work. Every article of clothing upon the person should be worn so loose that in raising the arms, the clothing will be correspondingly lifted by the action. 3LtMs, Ms 2, 1877, par. 3

This brings us to another error in the dress of women at the present day: The underclothing is usually sustained by the hips alone. This heavy weight, pressing upon the bowels, drags them downward and causes weakness of the stomach and a sense of lassitude which leads the sufferer to incline forward; this tends to further cramp the lungs and prevent their action. The blood becomes impure, the pores of the skin fail in their <cleansing work>, sallowness and disease set in, beauty and health are gone. 3LtMs, Ms 2, 1877, par. 4

Ladies may resort to cosmetics to restore the tint of the complexion, but they cannot <in> thus <doing> bring back the glow of healthful feelings to the heart. That which darkens and dinges the skin also clouds the spirits and destroys the cheerfulness and peace of the mind. 3LtMs, Ms 2, 1877, par. 5

Every woman who values health should avoid hanging any weight upon the hips—<any compression of the waist.> The shoulders should be made to sustain the weight of every article of clothing worn upon the person. <Then, if the bands are sufficiently loose,> this will relieve the bowels from undue pressure and prevent that weakness of the stomach and bowels which is prevailing to an alarming extent. 3LtMs, Ms 2, 1877, par. 6

Every wrong habit which injures the health of the body reacts in effect upon the mind. Careworn, nervous, anxious women are <made thus> because they cheat themselves of the pure air that makes pure blood and the freedom of motion which sends that blood coursing through the veins and gives life, health, and energy. Women, of all persons, need strength of mind and body to grapple with the ills and anxieties of life; but most of them are so weak and nerveless that they are conquered and crushed by them instead. 3LtMs, Ms 2, 1877, par. 7

Thousands of women are today suffering from a painful relaxation of the system for want of <out-of-door,> vigorous physical exercise. They are rusting out their lives in inaction. Their present style of dress proves a hindrance to the free use of their limbs, and they gradually, almost unconsciously, give up healthful exercise and surrender to a life of inactivity. Many of the women of the present time are only able to arrange their dresses, put them on and carry them about with their burden of overskirts, fluffing, plaiting, ruffling, trimming, bows, and buttons. After the dressing, ornamenting, and frizzling are accomplished, they feel wholly unable to go out in the open air and engage in exercise that would expand their lungs and give elasticity to their limbs. Besides, such exercise would be likely to spoil their fine dresses. Therefore they indulge in sedentary habits at the expense of health, happiness, and even life. They are abject slaves to the tyrant fashion. They deform the human form by the many inventions decreed by this monster. 3LtMs, Ms 2, 1877, par. 8

But what account can those who follow the fashions and follies of the present day render to God for the use they have made of the time and abilities given them for wise improvement? Their minds, instead of being developed and strengthened by proper cultivation, have been dwarfed and crippled by being devoted almost entirely to the arrangement of the dress in accordance with the demands of fashion. This is the crying evil of our sex and lies at the bottom of many of the failures and miseries of life. Many women who profess to be followers of Jesus Christ are servants to the fashions of the world and delight to adopt new inventions in styles, constantly appearing out in new costumes and new deformities of dress. 3LtMs, Ms 2, 1877, par. 9

It would be well if a pledge of temperance in dress could be presented for our women to sign and to observe. The intoxicating influence of extravagance and display in dress has so degrading an effect upon the minds of many women, that such a measure would seem justifiable and reasonable. Thousands are unfitted for the every-day duties of domestic life, because of this mania for dress. Their children, who are a precious trust to them from God, are neglected and grow up without proper care and attention, obtaining too often an education in vice. Prayer in the closet is abandoned, the Word of God is left unread, and there is no time nor aptitude for religious meditation. Said Christ, “Whosoever will come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.” [Mark 8:34.] Those who are attracted to Christ and who live for the future immortal life will not be slaves of fashion. 3LtMs, Ms 2, 1877, par. 10

The Christian mother, to a very great extent, has it within her power to secure to her children good constitutions, sound morals, and correct views of the duties and responsibilities of life. Thousands of mothers are today ignorant of the laws of health and morality, and utterly reckless in the management of their children. Thousands are ruined for life and rendered worthless to society through neglect of proper training in early youth. A failure of health prevents the cultivation and development of the mental faculties, the talents lie dormant in consequence, and the world loses the benefit of them. A knowledge of, and obedience to, the laws of nature would have preserved the healthful action of body and mind and given to humanity the blessing of many a life now wasted in uselessness. Through the inefficiency of parents, much good is lost to the world, and God is robbed of the glory He should receive through the proper direction of youthful talent and energy. 3LtMs, Ms 2, 1877, par. 11

Indulgence of wrong desires and gratification of the animal passions are the order of the day in this age of the world. Youth is surrounded by the fascinations of pleasure and the seductive temptations of sin. For these reasons a great and important responsibility rests upon the Christian mother. It is hers, in a measure, to rectify the growing evils of the world by rearing her children in such a manner that they will take a firm stand for the right and cast their influence on the side of virtue. But the mother who submits her God-given womanhood to the slavery of fashion wastes, in useless labor and frivolity, time and energy which should be devoted to her sacred calling. She cannot feel a sense of her solemn responsibility to God and humanity. Satan has invented manifold temptations to divert the minds of mothers from their most important work. The matter of dress holds the larger share of women in the veriest bondage. The study of fashion-plate is pursued with untiring zeal and is followed up by an endless round of cutting, fitting, stitching, ruffling, pointing, plaiting to arrange for vain display. All this costs time, money, and concentration of mind, for which no equivalent is returned. The mental powers are wretchedly abused by being almost wholly bent upon the object of preparing raiment for the body, while their children are on the way to ruin. 3LtMs, Ms 2, 1877, par. 12

Many mothers are much more concerned as to the dress and adornment of their children than they are for their behavior and the proper direction of their minds. They will spend precious time in ruffling and trimming the garments of the little ones, while those who are to wear them are running in the streets, subject to the influence of vile associates and breathing in the atmosphere of vice. The hours that should be devoted to prayerful communion with them and a careful superintendence of their employments and amusements are worse than wasted in ornamenting the little suits which will serve to add the evil of vanity to the faults already acquired. 3LtMs, Ms 2, 1877, par. 13

A mother who prizes the approval of God and who is controlled by heavenly influences will not dare to waste her precious time, and money, to meet the claims of custom. Fashion-loving mothers are daily giving their children lessons in devotion to dress, which they will never unlearn in after years. They are sowing seeds in those tender minds which will erelong bear fruit. “Sad will the harvest be!” “Whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.” [Galatians 6:7.] 3LtMs, Ms 2, 1877, par. 14

It is the mother’s duty constantly to educate her mind for the grave duties devolving upon her, that she may successfully meet her increasing family cares. She should study the peculiarities in the temperaments of her children, and vary her discipline to suit their different dispositions; thus she will be able to mold their minds in the right shape. The usual management of children at the present time tends to weaken their moral power. They are allowed to be idle, and their active young minds, seeking employment, stumble into evil ways. They are not taught self-denial and prompt obedience, therefore they grow up selfish and incapable of taking up the earnest work of life. The example of most parents is demoralizing to the children, who naturally look to them for a pattern. If the parents are swept into the strong current of the world and follow its practices regardless of right or wrong, time or expense, certainly no better can be expected of their children. The lessons of precept and example given by parents to their children should tend to fit their characters for the higher, immortal life. They are thus qualified also for the greatest usefulness in this world. God has placed us here not to live for our own amusement, but to do good, to bless humanity, to prepare for heaven. Every violation of moral obligation, with its burden of result, must be met and accounted for hereafter. 3LtMs, Ms 2, 1877, par. 15

Especially are the mother’s moments priceless; her work will be tested in the solemn day of accounts. Then it will be found that many of the failures and crimes of men and women have resulted from the ignorance and gross neglect of those whose duty it was to guide their childish feet in the right way. Then it will be found that many who have blessed the world with the light of genius and truth and holiness, owe the staunch principles and integrity that were the mainspring of their usefulness and success to the careful religious training of a praying Christian mother. 3LtMs, Ms 2, 1877, par. 16

The mother needs the most perfect self-control; and in order to secure this she should take all precautions against any physical or mental disorder. Her life should be ordered according to the laws of God and of health. As the diet materially affects the mind and disposition, she should be very careful in that particular, eating that which is nourishing, but not stimulating, that her nerves may be calm and her temper equable. She will then find it easier to exercise patience in dealing with the varying tendencies of her children, and to hold the reins of government firmly yet affectionately. Children should virtually be trained in a home school from the cradle to maturity. And, as in the case of any well-regulated school, the teachers themselves gain important knowledge; the mother, especially, who is the principal teacher in the home, should there learn the most valuable lessons of her life. 3LtMs, Ms 2, 1877, par. 17

Well may the mother inquire with deep anxiety, as she looks upon the children given to her care, What is the great aim and object of their education? Is it to fit them for life and its duties, to qualify them to take an honorable position in the world, to do good, to benefit their fellow beings, to gain eventually the reward of the righteous? If so, then the first lesson to be taught them is self-control; for no undisciplined, headstrong person can hope for success in this world, or reward in the next. Children should be taught that they must not have their own way, but that the will of their parents must guide them. One of the most important lessons in this connection is the control of appetite. They should learn to eat at regular intervals and to allow nothing to pass their lips between these stated meals, which should be served twice or at most three times a day. 3LtMs, Ms 2, 1877, par. 18

For more than twelve years we have taken only two meals each day of plain, unstimulating food. During that time, we have had almost constantly the care of children, varying in age from three to thirteen years. We worked gradually and carefully to change their habit of eating three times a day to two; we also worked cautiously to change their diet from stimulating food as meat, rich gravies, pies, cakes, butter, spices, etc., to simple fruits, vegetables, and grains. The consequence has been that our children have not been troubled with the various maladies to which children are more or less subject. They occasionally take cold by reason of carelessness, but this seldom makes them sick. 3LtMs, Ms 2, 1877, par. 19

We have, as an occasional experiment, changed the number of their daily meals from two to three; but the result was not good. In the morning their breath was offensive; and after testing the matter for a few weeks, we were thoroughly convinced that the children were better upon two meals a day than upon three; and we therefore returned to our former system, with marked improvement in the health of the children as a result. If tempted with the sight of food prepared for others, they incline to think they are hungry, but usually they do not miss or think about the third meal. Children reared in this way are much more easily controlled than those who are indulged in eating everything their appetite craves, and at all times. They are usually cheerful, contented, and healthy. Even the most stubborn, passionate, and wayward, have become submissive, patient, and possessed of self-control by persistently following up this order of diet, united with a firm but kind management in regard to other matters. 3LtMs, Ms 2, 1877, par. 20

Parents will have much to answer for in the day of accounts because of their wicked indulgence of their children. Many gratify every unreasonable wish, because it is easier to be rid of their importunity in this way than in any other. A child should be so trained that a refusal would be received in the right spirit, and accepted as final. 3LtMs, Ms 2, 1877, par. 21

Children are generally untaught in regard to the importance of when, how, and what they should eat. They are permitted to indulge their tastes freely, to eat at all hours, to help themselves to fruit when it tempts their eyes, and this, with the pie, cake, bread and butter, and sweetmeats eaten almost constantly, make them gourmands and dyspeptics. The digestive organs, like a mill which is continually kept running, becomes enfeebled, vital force is called from the brain to aid the stomach in its overwork, and thus the mental powers are weakened. The unnatural stimulation and wear of the vital forces make them nervous, impatient of restraint, self-willed, and irritable. They can scarcely be trusted out of their parents’ sight. In many cases the moral power seems deadened, and it is difficult to arouse them to a sense of the shame and grievous nature of sin; they slip easily into habits of prevarication, deceit, and often open lying. 3LtMs, Ms 2, 1877, par. 22

Parents deplore these things in their children, but do not realize that it is their own bad management which has brought about the evil. They have not seen the necessity of restraining the appetites and passions of their children, and they have grown and strengthened with their years. Mothers prepare with their own hands and place before their children food which has a tendency to injure them physically and mentally. Unwholesome diet makes a poor quality of blood. The appetite continually indulged is constantly craving something more stimulating; with the weakening of the moral powers bad associates are made, and the young man who has thus gone from bad to worse finds in the saloon that which meets the unnatural wants of his appetite. He then becomes a lion that can be tamed by no common means. Shame vanishes, and manhood is sacrificed to an insatiate desire. 3LtMs, Ms 2, 1877, par. 23

There is a general mourning that intemperance prevails to such a fearful extent; but we fasten the primal cause upon fathers and mothers who have provided upon their tables the means by which the appetites of their children are educated for exciting stimulants. They themselves have sown in their children the seeds of intemperance, and it is their fault if they become drunkards. What account in the day of final judgment will that father and mother give whose child has become corrupt and dissolute in life through their indulgence of his appetite, and neglect to cultivate the moral attributes of his mind! Parents see that something must be done, for anguish has entered their homes, so they attempt to seize the monster of intemperance and hold it with their feeble strength; but they find it too strong for their feeble hands to conquer. In their ignorance they nourished and strengthened it until it is beyond their control. Could parents realize the great responsibility resting upon them when their children are innocent babes in the home, much sin and misery might be averted; temperance would then be taught at the fireside, and the table would afford practical lessons repeated every day! Line upon line, precept upon precept, children should be taught the necessity of self-control and self-denial; and then true reform would make rapid progress. 3LtMs, Ms 2, 1877, par. 24

Parents may, by earnest, persevering effort, unbiased by the customs of fashionable life, build a moral bulwark about their children that will defend them from the miseries and crimes caused by intemperance. Children should not be left to come up as they will, unduly developing traits that should be nipped in the bud; but they should be disciplined carefully, and educated to take their position upon the side of right, of reform and abstinence. In every crisis they will then have moral independence to breast the storm of opposition sure to assail those who take their stand in favor of true reform. 3LtMs, Ms 2, 1877, par. 25

Individual effort on the right side is needed to subdue the growing evil of intemperance. Oh! that we could find words that would melt and burn their way into the heart of every parent in the land! Mothers can do much toward sweeping away the cloud of darkness and iniquity that settles down over the earth like the pall of death. 3LtMs, Ms 2, 1877, par. 26

Mothers, can we not do our work better? Can we not labor more faithfully to bring up our children to real usefulness in the world? Let us teach the little ones to help us while their hands are small and their strength is slight. Let us impress upon their minds the fact that labor is noble, that it was ordained to man of Heaven, that it was enjoined upon Adam in Eden, as an essential to the healthy development of mind and body. Let us teach them that innocent pleasure is never half so satisfying as when it follows active industry. If we teach our children to be industrious, half the danger is over; for idleness leads into all manner of temptation to sin. Let us educate our children to be simple in manner without being bold, to be benevolent and self-sacrificing without being extravagant, to be economical without becoming avaricious. And above all, let us teach them the claims which God has upon them, that it is their duty to carry religion into every department of life, that they should love God supremely, and love their neighbor, not neglecting the little courtesies of life which are essential to happiness. 3LtMs, Ms 2, 1877, par. 27

How earnestly and perseveringly the artist labors to transfer to canvass a perfect likeness of his model; and how diligently the sculptor hews and chisels out the stone into a counterpart of the copy he is following. So the parents should labor to shape, polish, and refine their children after the pattern given them in Christ Jesus. As the patient artist studies, and works, and forms plans to make the results of his labor more perfect, so should the parent consider time well spent that is occupied in training the children for useful lives, and fitting them for the immortal kingdom. The artist’s work is small and unimportant compared with that of the parent. The one deals with lifeless material, from which he fashions forms of beauty; but the other deals with a human being whose life can be shaped for good or ill, to bless humanity or to curse it; to go out in darkness, or to live forever in a future sinless world. 3LtMs, Ms 2, 1877, par. 28

The votaries of fashion will never see or understand the immortal beauty of that Christian mother’s work and will sneer at her old-fashioned notions and her plain, unadorned dress, while the Majesty of heaven will write the name of that faithful mother in the book of immortal fame. 3LtMs, Ms 2, 1877, par. 29