Looking Good: College Women and Body Image, 1875-1930 (Gender Relations in the American Experience)

Looking Good: College Women and Body Image, 1875-1930 (Gender Relations in the American Experience)

by Margaret A. Lowe
     
 

Toward the end of the nineteenth century, as young women began entering college in greater numbers than ever before, physicians and social critics charged that campus life posed grave hazards to the female constitution and women's reproductive health. "A girl could study and learn," Dr. Edward Clarke warned in his widely read 1873 book Sex in Education, "but

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Overview

Toward the end of the nineteenth century, as young women began entering college in greater numbers than ever before, physicians and social critics charged that campus life posed grave hazards to the female constitution and women's reproductive health. "A girl could study and learn," Dr. Edward Clarke warned in his widely read 1873 book Sex in Education, "but she could not do all this and retain uninjured health, and a future secure from neuralgia, uterine disease, hysteria, and other derangements of the nervous system." For half a century, ideas such as Dr. Clarke's framed the debate over a woman's place in higher education almost exclusively in terms of her body and her health.

For historian Margaret A. Lowe, this obsession offers one of the clearest expressions of the social and cultural meanings given to the female body between 1875 and 1930. At the same time, the "college girl" was a novelty that tested new ideas about feminine beauty, sexuality, and athleticism. In Looking Good, Lowe examines the ways in which college women at three quite different institutions—Cornell University, Smith College, and Spelman College—regarded their own bodies in this period. Contrasting white and black students, single-sex and coeducational schools, secular and religious environments, and Northern and Southern attitudes, Lowe draws on student diaries, letters, and publications; institutional records; and accounts in the popular press to examine the process by which new, twentieth-century ideals of the female body took hold in America.

Johns Hopkins University Press

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780801872099
Publisher:
Johns Hopkins University Press
Publication date:
06/15/2003
Series:
Gender Relations in the American Experience Series
Pages:
212
Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.84(d)
Age Range:
18 Years

Table of Contents

Contents:Acknowledgments IntroductionONE

Ideals and Expectations:

Race, Health, and Femininity
TWO

Fit for Academia:

Gaining Pounds, Vigor, and Virtue
THREE

Body, Spirit, and Race:

Embodying Respect
FOUR

The College Look:

Campus Fashions
FIVE

Modern Sexuality:

New Women, Coeds, and Flappers
SIX

The New Shape of Science:

Diets and Dieting on Campus
ConclusionNotes

Essay on Sources

Index

Johns Hopkins University Press

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