The Health Reformer



November 1, 1870

Creatures of Circumstance


While riding in the cars from Indianapolis to St. Louis, on our way to Kansas, a Chicago infidel, in conversation with my husband, asserted that he had no confidence in the Bible record. He believed that there was a God; but to charge upon him the evil that was seen in our world, made God to be a tyrant, in causing the misery of the beings he had created. He stated that we were creatures of circumstance. In a short time, three little girls, ranging from six to eleven years, came running by us. They were very pale. One of them in particular arrested my attention. She was very beautiful; yet disease was upon her, and, in my judgment, she was a victim of consumption. HR November 1, 1870, par. 1

These little girls were dressed according to the fashions of this age. Their dresses reached only to the knee, and their limbs were unclothed, except by thin cotton stockings and thin, laced morocco shoes. Their dresses were trimmed tastefully, at the cost of money and time, and yet the bloom of health was absent. HR November 1, 1870, par. 2

The mother of the pale-faced child seemed anxious in regard to her, fearing she would take cold and “have one of those dreadful coughing spells.” I said to the infidel, pointing to the children, These are indeed creatures of circumstance. No doubt the mother is lamenting the providence of God in thus afflicting her precious child, but does not dream that herself is at fault for the poor health of her children. She is controlled by fashion; and as the result, her children are sufferers. Look at the tight-fitting waists of the dresses of these children. It is impossible for their lungs to have full action. The heart and liver cannot do their work, thus compressed. These children cannot take a full inspiration of air. Then look at their limbs, unclad except by the slight covering of cotton stockings. Over the vital organs are placed four or five coverings, while the limbs, remote from the great wheel of life, are left exposed. The air chills the limbs, and the life-current is driven back from its natural course, and the limbs are robbed of their proportion of blood. The blood which should be induced to the extremities, by their being properly clad, is thrown back upon the internal organs. There is too much blood in the head. The lungs are congested, or the liver is burdened. By interrupting the circulation of the blood, the entire system is deranged. More die as the result of following fashion, than from all other causes. That child will soon die, and the mother will probably bewail the providence of God which has robbed her of her treasure. The child is robbed of vitality in consequence of the inexcusable ignorance and vanity of the mother. She has probably been so busy in dressing her daughters to keep pace with fashion, that she has had no time to inform herself what course she should pursue to preserve to her daughters the best condition of health. Creatures of circumstance, in every sense of the word. HR November 1, 1870, par. 3

The course parents generally pursue toward their children, while in their teens, is doing more to undermine their constitutions than any other thing. And then, when their course is followed by the sure result, dyspepsia, with its train of evils, and consumption, sapping away the life-forces, the parents bewail the dispensation of Providence, in robbing their children of health and life. It is a sin for mothers to remain in ignorance in regard to the physical organism, and the proper manner of dressing and feeding their children. They should become intelligent upon this important subject. HR November 1, 1870, par. 4

The Lord has formed the limbs and feet with large nerves and large veins to contain a large portion of blood, that the limbs that are remote from the vital organs may be as warm as other portions, and thus the circulation of the blood be equalized. The heart is laboring to throw the blood to the extremities, but fashion, in clothing children, robs the limbs of their portion of blood, and the vessels contract, so that they cannot contain the proper amount of blood. Therefore the limbs and feet become habitually cold, and congestion of some of the internal organs is the result. HR November 1, 1870, par. 5

You should clothe the limbs of your girls as warmly as you do your boys’, thus inducing the blood to the extremities. They should be clothed with warm, lined pants, meeting the instep. In no case should the pants be formed so as to be pulled up out of sight by the children, leaving any part of their limbs exposed. I inquire, Is it reasonable, or even modest, to see the limbs of your daughters exposed, to the bend of the knee, without any covering, except a cotton stocking in summer, and flannel, in winter? Why should not mothers clothe their daughters sensibly, modestly, and healthfully, irrespective of prevailing fashions? Your children are what you make them by your own instruction and example. You are teaching them to be creatures of circumstance, by dressing them according to the customs and fashions of the day. As the result, you see them with minds querulous, peevish, ill-balanced, and they lacking physical, mental, and moral strength. Many die prematurely. Mothers, do not charge the result of your cruel work to Providence. You can, by properly instructing your children in regard to the relation their own habits of eating, dressing, and exercise, sustain to health, make them, not children of circumstance, but of God's gracious providence. The course professed Christians generally pursue, in following fashion irrespective of health and of life, brings upon them a train of evils which they charge back upon Providence, and place arguments in the mouths of infidels, wherewith to assail Christianity. HR November 1, 1870, par. 6

Ellen G. White.