Looking Good: College Women and Body Image, 1875-1930 [NOOK Book]

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 ...

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Looking Good: College Women and Body Image, 1875-1930

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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.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781421401812
  • Publisher: Johns Hopkins University Press
  • Publication date: 12/29/2010
  • Series: Gender Relations in the American Experience
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 222
  • Sales rank: 1,290,646
  • File size: 5 MB

Meet the Author

Margaret A. Lowe is an associate professor of history and Project Director of the Teaching American History Grant at Bridgewater State College.

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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

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Reading Group Guide

Margaret Lowe has taken up a fascinating topic with both care and creativity. Investigating the increasing importance of body image to college women in nineteenth- and twentieth-century America, she traces changes in social and scientific ideals of female health and beauty, notions of femininity, and women's attitudes towards their own bodies. Lowe also makes a compelling case for the critical importance of race in this process. Looking Good is well conceived, carefully researched, and clearly written and argued.
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