Childhood training.

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Jo here. As we’ve just celebrated Canadian Thanksgiving, I thought I’d use a Canadian motif.
I’ve been away for the long weekend at VCon, an SF&F convention in Vancouver. This was lots of fun as Cons usually are. But it means I missed a lot of messages, including comments on the blog. However, I gather there were some about posture. I think it’s a mistake to assume torture. I always assume that the same proportion of parents try to do the best for their children in all ages, but the ideas of what is best change. Assuming that our present ideals are truly best is always dangerous.

Some formal postures are healthy. Slumping and forward-thrusting heads most definitely are not. So some aids to good posture in childhood might be beneficial. Also, good posture tended to help a person get ahead in life, something most parents want for their children in one way or another.

Poor posture was also considered the outward sign of lax morals and that’s sometimes true today. A shuffling, slouching young man is often judged badly. So we can see why parents went to extremes to try to achieve the appearance of virtue for their children. In addition, there were many who truly believed that children were born evil and needed to be constrained and beaten or they would end up badly. In those cases the children didn’t need to do much wrong to be punished.

So, I don’t think trying to achieve good posture in children is evil, but I do have doubts about the backboard. I was always fuzzy about what this was until I saw the illustrations in MAKING VICTORIANS: The Drummond Children’s World, 1827-1832, by Susan Lasdun, Gollancz. The book is mostly based on illustrations done by the children themselves. Incidentally, they were related to the Drummond-Burrell of Almack’s fame, and Lasdun quotes a reference to Almack’s from one of the girls, which was interesting as I’ve rarely seen references to Almack’s in personal documents. One of the Drummond girl apparently wrote to her mother about Almack’s:
Take the hint and lead me to those halls,
Where youth assembles at so many balls.
The source is an unpublished DRUMMOND ALBUM. Publish it, I say. It sounds fascinating.

Backboard
Anyway, here we see the backboard in use. What appalls me is not the board, but the child having to hold it like that. For how long? It doesn’t say, but here is a pictures of a girl awaiting Backboard2 punishment with a birch for not wearing it, so I suspect that was a fairly common occurrence.

There’s a comment elsewhere about girls having to wear iron collars with backboards attached. That sounds horrible, too, but not as bad as having to hold the thing up. She could do nothing when in that position, whereas the other girl was apparently expected to get on with her lessons, standing, while wearing it.

The trouble with a source like this, however, is that it seems to consist only of the pictures. I have to wonder if the backboard was universally used and used rigorously, or mostly to correct a problem. Of course, the problem could be one not easily corrected at all, in which case the child would be put through endless torture for no result, but it would be useful to know if this was a corrective measure or a routine.

Even today we put children through very unpleasant measures to achieve an ideal. Braces, anyone?

The way we portray children and parenting in books can be interesting. I don’t think we can help bringing some modern sensitivities to it, but I like to try to get within the thinking of the day. For example in one of my books, CHRISTMAS ANGEL, Judith and Leander fall into fights about the raising of her children. She wants to protect them from hurt while he believes boys sometimes need the cane. Speaking from his own experience, he claims to have preferred it to endless lectures and tiresome punishments such as writing out pages of the Bible. And he adds that as Bastian won’t escape being beaten at school, he might as well learn to accept it with dignity. That, to me, is true to the times, but it bothered some readers.

So, how do you feel about the portrayal of children and their world in historical fiction? Do you want everyone to have a modern sensibility, or do you prefer something more true to the past? Any interesting info to share about the lives of children in the past?

BTW, I haven’t forgotten that I promised a prize for a rhyming post. I haven’t had time to evaluate the excellent efforts yet.

Cheers,

Jo

72 thoughts on “Childhood training.”

  1. I think it is vital to convey the standards and expectations of the culture that is the setting of the book. One of the great virtues of good historical fiction is that it can help to educate readers into understanding that many of the norms of our own place and time are NOT universal. This is a crucial insight. At the same time, there are other human values that ARE universal, and it behoves us to be able to distinguish clearly between them and the more superficial fads and fashions, rules and regulations, that human societies have always taken so seriously.
    If an author can make it very clear that a character who is a kind, decent, moral and loving person might, nevertheless, have sometimes treated his/her children in a way that our generation considers wrong, then that author will have broadened the minds of her readers, and helped them to look not only at past cultures, but also at contemporary ones in other parts of the world, in a more informed and tolerant way.

    Reply
  2. I think it is vital to convey the standards and expectations of the culture that is the setting of the book. One of the great virtues of good historical fiction is that it can help to educate readers into understanding that many of the norms of our own place and time are NOT universal. This is a crucial insight. At the same time, there are other human values that ARE universal, and it behoves us to be able to distinguish clearly between them and the more superficial fads and fashions, rules and regulations, that human societies have always taken so seriously.
    If an author can make it very clear that a character who is a kind, decent, moral and loving person might, nevertheless, have sometimes treated his/her children in a way that our generation considers wrong, then that author will have broadened the minds of her readers, and helped them to look not only at past cultures, but also at contemporary ones in other parts of the world, in a more informed and tolerant way.

    Reply
  3. I think it is vital to convey the standards and expectations of the culture that is the setting of the book. One of the great virtues of good historical fiction is that it can help to educate readers into understanding that many of the norms of our own place and time are NOT universal. This is a crucial insight. At the same time, there are other human values that ARE universal, and it behoves us to be able to distinguish clearly between them and the more superficial fads and fashions, rules and regulations, that human societies have always taken so seriously.
    If an author can make it very clear that a character who is a kind, decent, moral and loving person might, nevertheless, have sometimes treated his/her children in a way that our generation considers wrong, then that author will have broadened the minds of her readers, and helped them to look not only at past cultures, but also at contemporary ones in other parts of the world, in a more informed and tolerant way.

    Reply
  4. I agree with all of that. Sometimes I have trouble with ‘bad childhood’ books when the childhood is bad by modern standards, but downright blessed by standards of the time – when the hero/ine is all angsty about it and it just doesn’t make contextual sense. (Many ‘bad childhood’ books don’t fall in this trap, I’m just sayin’) Othertimes a quirky fact of the past can lead me into trying to find out how prevelent a practice was – in one of Deveraux’s(?) books an infant is swaddled, hung on a peg, and a bucket shoved under it while the family goes out to work. I think it was JD, but even if it wasn’t, it was an author whose research I don’t trust at all, so I started looking it up – it interested me.
    I’m not crazy about children in romance – (Aleen Malcom taken into consideration and all) they’re hard to write well and often throw the story off. And relationships just weren’t the same. Sure, people are people, but I recall many family stories (being taken into your grandparent’s victorian parlor and the maid bringing tea while you sat in rigid attendance, followed by the maid escorting you to a children’s parlor where you could play quietly, too loud and it’s embarrassment all around, then being escorted to a play area some distance from the house and left to fend for themselves for a period of time) that make me realize we can’t really ever quite get another time period’s mindset.

    Reply
  5. I agree with all of that. Sometimes I have trouble with ‘bad childhood’ books when the childhood is bad by modern standards, but downright blessed by standards of the time – when the hero/ine is all angsty about it and it just doesn’t make contextual sense. (Many ‘bad childhood’ books don’t fall in this trap, I’m just sayin’) Othertimes a quirky fact of the past can lead me into trying to find out how prevelent a practice was – in one of Deveraux’s(?) books an infant is swaddled, hung on a peg, and a bucket shoved under it while the family goes out to work. I think it was JD, but even if it wasn’t, it was an author whose research I don’t trust at all, so I started looking it up – it interested me.
    I’m not crazy about children in romance – (Aleen Malcom taken into consideration and all) they’re hard to write well and often throw the story off. And relationships just weren’t the same. Sure, people are people, but I recall many family stories (being taken into your grandparent’s victorian parlor and the maid bringing tea while you sat in rigid attendance, followed by the maid escorting you to a children’s parlor where you could play quietly, too loud and it’s embarrassment all around, then being escorted to a play area some distance from the house and left to fend for themselves for a period of time) that make me realize we can’t really ever quite get another time period’s mindset.

    Reply
  6. I agree with all of that. Sometimes I have trouble with ‘bad childhood’ books when the childhood is bad by modern standards, but downright blessed by standards of the time – when the hero/ine is all angsty about it and it just doesn’t make contextual sense. (Many ‘bad childhood’ books don’t fall in this trap, I’m just sayin’) Othertimes a quirky fact of the past can lead me into trying to find out how prevelent a practice was – in one of Deveraux’s(?) books an infant is swaddled, hung on a peg, and a bucket shoved under it while the family goes out to work. I think it was JD, but even if it wasn’t, it was an author whose research I don’t trust at all, so I started looking it up – it interested me.
    I’m not crazy about children in romance – (Aleen Malcom taken into consideration and all) they’re hard to write well and often throw the story off. And relationships just weren’t the same. Sure, people are people, but I recall many family stories (being taken into your grandparent’s victorian parlor and the maid bringing tea while you sat in rigid attendance, followed by the maid escorting you to a children’s parlor where you could play quietly, too loud and it’s embarrassment all around, then being escorted to a play area some distance from the house and left to fend for themselves for a period of time) that make me realize we can’t really ever quite get another time period’s mindset.

    Reply
  7. What’s wrong with braces?
    I realize that in most cases it’s cosmetic and not necessary for the health of the child, but children WANT to wear braces these days.

    Reply
  8. What’s wrong with braces?
    I realize that in most cases it’s cosmetic and not necessary for the health of the child, but children WANT to wear braces these days.

    Reply
  9. What’s wrong with braces?
    I realize that in most cases it’s cosmetic and not necessary for the health of the child, but children WANT to wear braces these days.

    Reply
  10. Is it not the case that braces on the teeth can be extremely uncomfortable to wear? The point being made was that there are still cases in which parents subject children to some discomfort in order to improve their physical appearance. Whether one regards that as acceptable depends on how painful the process is, and how important one regards the visual improvement to be!
    🙂

    Reply
  11. Is it not the case that braces on the teeth can be extremely uncomfortable to wear? The point being made was that there are still cases in which parents subject children to some discomfort in order to improve their physical appearance. Whether one regards that as acceptable depends on how painful the process is, and how important one regards the visual improvement to be!
    🙂

    Reply
  12. Is it not the case that braces on the teeth can be extremely uncomfortable to wear? The point being made was that there are still cases in which parents subject children to some discomfort in order to improve their physical appearance. Whether one regards that as acceptable depends on how painful the process is, and how important one regards the visual improvement to be!
    🙂

    Reply
  13. Jo here.
    Cathy, are there really children and teens who want to be in braces? I have to say I feel there’s something wrong with that, just as I feel there’s something wrong with the girls and women in the past who wanted to wear corsets, which I’m sure most of them did.
    The ferociously anti-corset heroine rarely rings true for me.Even my mother, born early in the 20th century, felt undressed without one. You know, the full body things with hooks and laces. She was convinced that the female body fell apart without one. My older sisters were in the girdle generation, so she was pacified by that. The only body shaper I’d wear was a bra and she was deeply concerned.
    She came around in the end, and even took to wearing trousers, but it took her about 65 years.
    Jo

    Reply
  14. Jo here.
    Cathy, are there really children and teens who want to be in braces? I have to say I feel there’s something wrong with that, just as I feel there’s something wrong with the girls and women in the past who wanted to wear corsets, which I’m sure most of them did.
    The ferociously anti-corset heroine rarely rings true for me.Even my mother, born early in the 20th century, felt undressed without one. You know, the full body things with hooks and laces. She was convinced that the female body fell apart without one. My older sisters were in the girdle generation, so she was pacified by that. The only body shaper I’d wear was a bra and she was deeply concerned.
    She came around in the end, and even took to wearing trousers, but it took her about 65 years.
    Jo

    Reply
  15. Jo here.
    Cathy, are there really children and teens who want to be in braces? I have to say I feel there’s something wrong with that, just as I feel there’s something wrong with the girls and women in the past who wanted to wear corsets, which I’m sure most of them did.
    The ferociously anti-corset heroine rarely rings true for me.Even my mother, born early in the 20th century, felt undressed without one. You know, the full body things with hooks and laces. She was convinced that the female body fell apart without one. My older sisters were in the girdle generation, so she was pacified by that. The only body shaper I’d wear was a bra and she was deeply concerned.
    She came around in the end, and even took to wearing trousers, but it took her about 65 years.
    Jo

    Reply
  16. When I was young, braces were expensive, not too prevalent, and kids made fun of you for wearing them.
    No more. My son almost didn’t need them until his second molars came in (around 12) an crowded his teeth in all directions. The wisdom teeth are coming out next month. He was so disappointed when he thought he wasn’t going to get braces. Ultimately he needed them, and yes I’m doing it for cosmetic reasons.
    Nowadays kids have colored bands on their braced and get them changed with the seasons and holidays. My son’s are currently orange and black (for Halloween). Hideous, in my opinion.
    I hear what you’re saying though. Perhaps, braces, like corsets, are almost mandatory now for anyone whose teeth are not perfectly straight. Imagine a Victorian miss going without a corset because she didn’t care about her posture or figure! Maybe it’s the same thing now with braces.
    A parent could be accused of not loving her child is she let the child go through life with crooked teeth.
    Certainly orthodontists are doing quite well.
    I had a dentist once who told me the weakest part of my face was my smile, and that I could improve it greatly with a gingivectomy. Cut my gums back! They’d bond over my teeth and voila! A beautiful smile.
    I declined.

    Reply
  17. When I was young, braces were expensive, not too prevalent, and kids made fun of you for wearing them.
    No more. My son almost didn’t need them until his second molars came in (around 12) an crowded his teeth in all directions. The wisdom teeth are coming out next month. He was so disappointed when he thought he wasn’t going to get braces. Ultimately he needed them, and yes I’m doing it for cosmetic reasons.
    Nowadays kids have colored bands on their braced and get them changed with the seasons and holidays. My son’s are currently orange and black (for Halloween). Hideous, in my opinion.
    I hear what you’re saying though. Perhaps, braces, like corsets, are almost mandatory now for anyone whose teeth are not perfectly straight. Imagine a Victorian miss going without a corset because she didn’t care about her posture or figure! Maybe it’s the same thing now with braces.
    A parent could be accused of not loving her child is she let the child go through life with crooked teeth.
    Certainly orthodontists are doing quite well.
    I had a dentist once who told me the weakest part of my face was my smile, and that I could improve it greatly with a gingivectomy. Cut my gums back! They’d bond over my teeth and voila! A beautiful smile.
    I declined.

    Reply
  18. When I was young, braces were expensive, not too prevalent, and kids made fun of you for wearing them.
    No more. My son almost didn’t need them until his second molars came in (around 12) an crowded his teeth in all directions. The wisdom teeth are coming out next month. He was so disappointed when he thought he wasn’t going to get braces. Ultimately he needed them, and yes I’m doing it for cosmetic reasons.
    Nowadays kids have colored bands on their braced and get them changed with the seasons and holidays. My son’s are currently orange and black (for Halloween). Hideous, in my opinion.
    I hear what you’re saying though. Perhaps, braces, like corsets, are almost mandatory now for anyone whose teeth are not perfectly straight. Imagine a Victorian miss going without a corset because she didn’t care about her posture or figure! Maybe it’s the same thing now with braces.
    A parent could be accused of not loving her child is she let the child go through life with crooked teeth.
    Certainly orthodontists are doing quite well.
    I had a dentist once who told me the weakest part of my face was my smile, and that I could improve it greatly with a gingivectomy. Cut my gums back! They’d bond over my teeth and voila! A beautiful smile.
    I declined.

    Reply
  19. “I feel there’s something wrong with the girls and women in the past who wanted to wear corsets.”
    To me it’s no different than modern women who wear heels. It’s a cultural norm, and it’s widely accepted (even expected!), and heels are actually bad for you, corsets weren’t (except for those worn by the small number of women who “tight laced” during the late Victorian period).

    Reply
  20. “I feel there’s something wrong with the girls and women in the past who wanted to wear corsets.”
    To me it’s no different than modern women who wear heels. It’s a cultural norm, and it’s widely accepted (even expected!), and heels are actually bad for you, corsets weren’t (except for those worn by the small number of women who “tight laced” during the late Victorian period).

    Reply
  21. “I feel there’s something wrong with the girls and women in the past who wanted to wear corsets.”
    To me it’s no different than modern women who wear heels. It’s a cultural norm, and it’s widely accepted (even expected!), and heels are actually bad for you, corsets weren’t (except for those worn by the small number of women who “tight laced” during the late Victorian period).

    Reply
  22. Cathy said: ‘Perhaps, braces, like corsets, are almost mandatory now for anyone whose teeth are not perfectly straight’.
    ***
    Only in the USA! Contrary to some popular belief abroad, the British do NOT neglect the health of their teeth and gums (to believe that they do is similar to believing that we have Dickensian fogs in London every winter), but expensive cosmetic dentistry is simply not very common, even amongst those who can easily afford the cost.
    Teeth that are not perfectly straight or have gaps between them are just not regarded as unacceptable, as an ugly physical deformity that must be corrected, in the way that they seem to be in America.
    😉

    Reply
  23. Cathy said: ‘Perhaps, braces, like corsets, are almost mandatory now for anyone whose teeth are not perfectly straight’.
    ***
    Only in the USA! Contrary to some popular belief abroad, the British do NOT neglect the health of their teeth and gums (to believe that they do is similar to believing that we have Dickensian fogs in London every winter), but expensive cosmetic dentistry is simply not very common, even amongst those who can easily afford the cost.
    Teeth that are not perfectly straight or have gaps between them are just not regarded as unacceptable, as an ugly physical deformity that must be corrected, in the way that they seem to be in America.
    😉

    Reply
  24. Cathy said: ‘Perhaps, braces, like corsets, are almost mandatory now for anyone whose teeth are not perfectly straight’.
    ***
    Only in the USA! Contrary to some popular belief abroad, the British do NOT neglect the health of their teeth and gums (to believe that they do is similar to believing that we have Dickensian fogs in London every winter), but expensive cosmetic dentistry is simply not very common, even amongst those who can easily afford the cost.
    Teeth that are not perfectly straight or have gaps between them are just not regarded as unacceptable, as an ugly physical deformity that must be corrected, in the way that they seem to be in America.
    😉

    Reply
  25. Interesting discussion, with very good points made with regard to children in fiction — children are as difficult to portray naturally in fiction as they are in visual art. And true, there is often some necessary adjusting to be done, since earlier time periods often treated their children in ways we might consider harsh (and frankly, what might be punishable by law today…).
    On braces — I think there’s a misconception that braces are encouraged primarily for cosmetic reasons in America. Of my three kids, only one has braces — the orthodontist said the other two had bites that were only minimally off kilter, so he didn’t recommend correction for them. The younger kid had incisors that never came down, and were still up in the roof of his mouth, which resulted in major headaches from pressure. He needed oral surgeries and has had nearly 5 years of braces. Recently he got them off and is in the retainer stage. He has a great smile, lots more comfort, and the headaches are gone.
    The orthodontist told me, when he recommended that I get braces even now, orthodontia is corrective and preventive — if you straighten out the bite, then it helps later on, when teeth naturally shift with age and begin to cause problems. I haven’t gotten braces yet, but I’m still open to the idea.
    A smile doesn’t have to be straight to be beautiful, but there are usually legitimate dental health reasons for getting them, as far as I understand it.
    And it’s not the torture it used to be.
    Costs a lot more than it used to, though…. *g*
    Susan Sarah

    Reply
  26. Interesting discussion, with very good points made with regard to children in fiction — children are as difficult to portray naturally in fiction as they are in visual art. And true, there is often some necessary adjusting to be done, since earlier time periods often treated their children in ways we might consider harsh (and frankly, what might be punishable by law today…).
    On braces — I think there’s a misconception that braces are encouraged primarily for cosmetic reasons in America. Of my three kids, only one has braces — the orthodontist said the other two had bites that were only minimally off kilter, so he didn’t recommend correction for them. The younger kid had incisors that never came down, and were still up in the roof of his mouth, which resulted in major headaches from pressure. He needed oral surgeries and has had nearly 5 years of braces. Recently he got them off and is in the retainer stage. He has a great smile, lots more comfort, and the headaches are gone.
    The orthodontist told me, when he recommended that I get braces even now, orthodontia is corrective and preventive — if you straighten out the bite, then it helps later on, when teeth naturally shift with age and begin to cause problems. I haven’t gotten braces yet, but I’m still open to the idea.
    A smile doesn’t have to be straight to be beautiful, but there are usually legitimate dental health reasons for getting them, as far as I understand it.
    And it’s not the torture it used to be.
    Costs a lot more than it used to, though…. *g*
    Susan Sarah

    Reply
  27. Interesting discussion, with very good points made with regard to children in fiction — children are as difficult to portray naturally in fiction as they are in visual art. And true, there is often some necessary adjusting to be done, since earlier time periods often treated their children in ways we might consider harsh (and frankly, what might be punishable by law today…).
    On braces — I think there’s a misconception that braces are encouraged primarily for cosmetic reasons in America. Of my three kids, only one has braces — the orthodontist said the other two had bites that were only minimally off kilter, so he didn’t recommend correction for them. The younger kid had incisors that never came down, and were still up in the roof of his mouth, which resulted in major headaches from pressure. He needed oral surgeries and has had nearly 5 years of braces. Recently he got them off and is in the retainer stage. He has a great smile, lots more comfort, and the headaches are gone.
    The orthodontist told me, when he recommended that I get braces even now, orthodontia is corrective and preventive — if you straighten out the bite, then it helps later on, when teeth naturally shift with age and begin to cause problems. I haven’t gotten braces yet, but I’m still open to the idea.
    A smile doesn’t have to be straight to be beautiful, but there are usually legitimate dental health reasons for getting them, as far as I understand it.
    And it’s not the torture it used to be.
    Costs a lot more than it used to, though…. *g*
    Susan Sarah

    Reply
  28. Whenever my 4 & 6 year old nieces complain about having their hair pulled back into pigtails, my sis in law just says, “Suffer for beauty. Get used to it.” I think that’s true, for all societies, especially for females. The problem, I think, is when the “beauty” activity becomes actively unhealthy or is required for success in a non-related field. By “non-related”, I mean high heels shouldn’t be a necessary thing for a banker to wear to be successful, whereas it’s not improper to require an actress playing a certain role to wear them. Whether they’re considered beautiful by society is another issue altogether. I personally am quite thankful I’m not in a society where women bind their feet, or have saucer-sized plates inserted in their lip or ear, or have metal rings stacked up around their necks until their vertebra become disarticulated and the rings become literally necessary. At least I can take off high heels at the end of the day! Not that I wear them much anymore :).
    I agree that overemphasis on bodily perfection is a problem, but I don’t think people should be criticized when they make a free-will choice to wear braces or not, or add or subtract breast sizes, etc. You do have to accept the consequences without complaint too, though. While I’m not an advocate of “braces for everyone!”, I would find a mouthful of teeth going every which way less attractive than a relatively straight set. Not a deal-breaker, but I’d notice. I don’t think that makes me evil. And, as Susan Sarah pointed out, a lot of times braces aren’t about cosmetics.
    I like historicals to be as accurate as possible while still accommodating some of my modern sensibilities. I think it was here that we had the discussion about whether to present heroes in all their historically-accurate smelly glory rather than the freshly-washed-and-smelling-lovely standard we prefer today. I’ll take the historical inaccuracy there, thank you. OTOH, I do get a bit tired of Regency feminists. But then, I get tired of modern feminists fairly often too. 😀

    Reply
  29. Whenever my 4 & 6 year old nieces complain about having their hair pulled back into pigtails, my sis in law just says, “Suffer for beauty. Get used to it.” I think that’s true, for all societies, especially for females. The problem, I think, is when the “beauty” activity becomes actively unhealthy or is required for success in a non-related field. By “non-related”, I mean high heels shouldn’t be a necessary thing for a banker to wear to be successful, whereas it’s not improper to require an actress playing a certain role to wear them. Whether they’re considered beautiful by society is another issue altogether. I personally am quite thankful I’m not in a society where women bind their feet, or have saucer-sized plates inserted in their lip or ear, or have metal rings stacked up around their necks until their vertebra become disarticulated and the rings become literally necessary. At least I can take off high heels at the end of the day! Not that I wear them much anymore :).
    I agree that overemphasis on bodily perfection is a problem, but I don’t think people should be criticized when they make a free-will choice to wear braces or not, or add or subtract breast sizes, etc. You do have to accept the consequences without complaint too, though. While I’m not an advocate of “braces for everyone!”, I would find a mouthful of teeth going every which way less attractive than a relatively straight set. Not a deal-breaker, but I’d notice. I don’t think that makes me evil. And, as Susan Sarah pointed out, a lot of times braces aren’t about cosmetics.
    I like historicals to be as accurate as possible while still accommodating some of my modern sensibilities. I think it was here that we had the discussion about whether to present heroes in all their historically-accurate smelly glory rather than the freshly-washed-and-smelling-lovely standard we prefer today. I’ll take the historical inaccuracy there, thank you. OTOH, I do get a bit tired of Regency feminists. But then, I get tired of modern feminists fairly often too. 😀

    Reply
  30. Whenever my 4 & 6 year old nieces complain about having their hair pulled back into pigtails, my sis in law just says, “Suffer for beauty. Get used to it.” I think that’s true, for all societies, especially for females. The problem, I think, is when the “beauty” activity becomes actively unhealthy or is required for success in a non-related field. By “non-related”, I mean high heels shouldn’t be a necessary thing for a banker to wear to be successful, whereas it’s not improper to require an actress playing a certain role to wear them. Whether they’re considered beautiful by society is another issue altogether. I personally am quite thankful I’m not in a society where women bind their feet, or have saucer-sized plates inserted in their lip or ear, or have metal rings stacked up around their necks until their vertebra become disarticulated and the rings become literally necessary. At least I can take off high heels at the end of the day! Not that I wear them much anymore :).
    I agree that overemphasis on bodily perfection is a problem, but I don’t think people should be criticized when they make a free-will choice to wear braces or not, or add or subtract breast sizes, etc. You do have to accept the consequences without complaint too, though. While I’m not an advocate of “braces for everyone!”, I would find a mouthful of teeth going every which way less attractive than a relatively straight set. Not a deal-breaker, but I’d notice. I don’t think that makes me evil. And, as Susan Sarah pointed out, a lot of times braces aren’t about cosmetics.
    I like historicals to be as accurate as possible while still accommodating some of my modern sensibilities. I think it was here that we had the discussion about whether to present heroes in all their historically-accurate smelly glory rather than the freshly-washed-and-smelling-lovely standard we prefer today. I’ll take the historical inaccuracy there, thank you. OTOH, I do get a bit tired of Regency feminists. But then, I get tired of modern feminists fairly often too. 😀

    Reply
  31. Well, I just have to chime in here! Braces recommended to us mid-age folks are usually for health reasons – and I do wish that I had done it in high school – it might have prevented some of the gum issues of today. However, I have had surgery on both feet and still wear heels – just not three inchers anymore, even though I loved them!!!
    For the back board, I think one of your fellow wenches, Loretta Chase wrote about a woman who had perfect posture due to a ‘butterfly board’ when she was a child. I have at times tried the modern equivalent – the posture bra and found it didn’t work for me.
    I grew up in the era of garter belts but switched over to pantyhose quite young. Hated those things! My grandmother and her sister still ordered long line girdles that zipped up the side – so they felt ‘pulled together’ from JC Penney’s ’til pretty much the day they died. So, I think it is more your times or generation that determines what is ‘right’ in foundation garments;-}
    One thing I am always interested in… the characters with poor eyesight. If a female character is ‘bookish’ and reads late into the night by candle light – WHY isn’t she in need of corrective lenses? I rarely see that as a issue/plot device. She may not have worn them in public but surely nearsightedness was a bigger issue than appears in fiction?
    Like some of the other posters – I cannot stand the heroine without a corset (unless the author makes a point of how ‘unendowed’ the heroine is) because I cannot believe a ‘nice girl’ would have run around ‘undressed’. Maybe on her family’s estate, maybe in the country, if she was flat chested and didn’t ride horses… otherwise I just can’t believe it wouldn’t have led to questions about her morals.
    Did anyone see the PBS “Texas Ranch” television show? Where the ‘ladies’ of the house wandered around in their undress? They didn’t seem to make the adjustment in their thinking to the times they were living in and were severely down-graded by the historians who reviewed their progress at the end of the show.
    And last but not least, I would prefer that authors be as realistic as possible in terms of child-rearing. Think of the harsh conditions of “Jane Eyre”.
    Adele was saved from living Jane’s life only by the intervention of Mr. Rochester – who wasn’t really a very nice guy but at least he considered her his dependent – if not blood relative. This is not far from Locke’s “nasty, short and brutish” or from Thoreau’s “quiet desperation”. For most folks, death or worse, life on the streets was only an accident or illness away. I like it when the people we read about in historical romances appreciate what they’ve got – and acknowledge that they are indeed, quite priviledged. Some believe it to be the ‘natural order of things’ others do not (that ‘natural order’is a world view that seems to be returning to fashion – pardon the political commentary).
    Okay, I apologize for being all over the place here but I find these topics fascinating!
    Cheers,

    Reply
  32. Well, I just have to chime in here! Braces recommended to us mid-age folks are usually for health reasons – and I do wish that I had done it in high school – it might have prevented some of the gum issues of today. However, I have had surgery on both feet and still wear heels – just not three inchers anymore, even though I loved them!!!
    For the back board, I think one of your fellow wenches, Loretta Chase wrote about a woman who had perfect posture due to a ‘butterfly board’ when she was a child. I have at times tried the modern equivalent – the posture bra and found it didn’t work for me.
    I grew up in the era of garter belts but switched over to pantyhose quite young. Hated those things! My grandmother and her sister still ordered long line girdles that zipped up the side – so they felt ‘pulled together’ from JC Penney’s ’til pretty much the day they died. So, I think it is more your times or generation that determines what is ‘right’ in foundation garments;-}
    One thing I am always interested in… the characters with poor eyesight. If a female character is ‘bookish’ and reads late into the night by candle light – WHY isn’t she in need of corrective lenses? I rarely see that as a issue/plot device. She may not have worn them in public but surely nearsightedness was a bigger issue than appears in fiction?
    Like some of the other posters – I cannot stand the heroine without a corset (unless the author makes a point of how ‘unendowed’ the heroine is) because I cannot believe a ‘nice girl’ would have run around ‘undressed’. Maybe on her family’s estate, maybe in the country, if she was flat chested and didn’t ride horses… otherwise I just can’t believe it wouldn’t have led to questions about her morals.
    Did anyone see the PBS “Texas Ranch” television show? Where the ‘ladies’ of the house wandered around in their undress? They didn’t seem to make the adjustment in their thinking to the times they were living in and were severely down-graded by the historians who reviewed their progress at the end of the show.
    And last but not least, I would prefer that authors be as realistic as possible in terms of child-rearing. Think of the harsh conditions of “Jane Eyre”.
    Adele was saved from living Jane’s life only by the intervention of Mr. Rochester – who wasn’t really a very nice guy but at least he considered her his dependent – if not blood relative. This is not far from Locke’s “nasty, short and brutish” or from Thoreau’s “quiet desperation”. For most folks, death or worse, life on the streets was only an accident or illness away. I like it when the people we read about in historical romances appreciate what they’ve got – and acknowledge that they are indeed, quite priviledged. Some believe it to be the ‘natural order of things’ others do not (that ‘natural order’is a world view that seems to be returning to fashion – pardon the political commentary).
    Okay, I apologize for being all over the place here but I find these topics fascinating!
    Cheers,

    Reply
  33. Well, I just have to chime in here! Braces recommended to us mid-age folks are usually for health reasons – and I do wish that I had done it in high school – it might have prevented some of the gum issues of today. However, I have had surgery on both feet and still wear heels – just not three inchers anymore, even though I loved them!!!
    For the back board, I think one of your fellow wenches, Loretta Chase wrote about a woman who had perfect posture due to a ‘butterfly board’ when she was a child. I have at times tried the modern equivalent – the posture bra and found it didn’t work for me.
    I grew up in the era of garter belts but switched over to pantyhose quite young. Hated those things! My grandmother and her sister still ordered long line girdles that zipped up the side – so they felt ‘pulled together’ from JC Penney’s ’til pretty much the day they died. So, I think it is more your times or generation that determines what is ‘right’ in foundation garments;-}
    One thing I am always interested in… the characters with poor eyesight. If a female character is ‘bookish’ and reads late into the night by candle light – WHY isn’t she in need of corrective lenses? I rarely see that as a issue/plot device. She may not have worn them in public but surely nearsightedness was a bigger issue than appears in fiction?
    Like some of the other posters – I cannot stand the heroine without a corset (unless the author makes a point of how ‘unendowed’ the heroine is) because I cannot believe a ‘nice girl’ would have run around ‘undressed’. Maybe on her family’s estate, maybe in the country, if she was flat chested and didn’t ride horses… otherwise I just can’t believe it wouldn’t have led to questions about her morals.
    Did anyone see the PBS “Texas Ranch” television show? Where the ‘ladies’ of the house wandered around in their undress? They didn’t seem to make the adjustment in their thinking to the times they were living in and were severely down-graded by the historians who reviewed their progress at the end of the show.
    And last but not least, I would prefer that authors be as realistic as possible in terms of child-rearing. Think of the harsh conditions of “Jane Eyre”.
    Adele was saved from living Jane’s life only by the intervention of Mr. Rochester – who wasn’t really a very nice guy but at least he considered her his dependent – if not blood relative. This is not far from Locke’s “nasty, short and brutish” or from Thoreau’s “quiet desperation”. For most folks, death or worse, life on the streets was only an accident or illness away. I like it when the people we read about in historical romances appreciate what they’ve got – and acknowledge that they are indeed, quite priviledged. Some believe it to be the ‘natural order of things’ others do not (that ‘natural order’is a world view that seems to be returning to fashion – pardon the political commentary).
    Okay, I apologize for being all over the place here but I find these topics fascinating!
    Cheers,

    Reply
  34. Jo here again.
    I don’t think talking about these things means criticism of personal choices. We all have different attitudes. Some of it’s cultural. As Agtigress says, the pressure to have straight teeth is mainly a US thing. And yes, some forms of teeth irregularity are unhealthy, leading to all kinds of problems.
    Incidentally, I saw a program on the women with the rings around their neck. It’s apparently not true that they can’t take them off, and one of the women did. IIRC, they don’t actually extend the neck as people assumed, but push down the shoulders, so there isn’t the weakening of the structure of the neck that seems obvious. Whether true or not, it was clear enough, and as I said, one woman took off her rings and sat there talking to the interviewer, except that she eventually said she felt naked and ugly without them, and put them back on again.
    I know people who feel naked and ugly without makeup and put it on first thing in the morning.
    It’s easy to look around and see ways we accept discomfort and even health consequences for appearance. High heels is one. Tight shoes is another. A whole generation of women messed up their toes with pointy shoes, and men did that, too, with winkle-pickers.
    Men do that low, tight belt thing. Look, I’m still a 34″ waist! Apparently it really messes up their intestines and could be part of the reason, along with the apple belly above, that such men are prone to heart attacks.
    They also often wear tight collars and ties while hating it because it’s expected. Some wear them so tight — look, I’m still a 15″ collar! — that they constrict blood vessels in the neck.
    So it’s not just women.
    I think we can often get subtlety of insight into the past by relating to aspects of our own time.
    When women wore corsets not to wear one would be a lot like not wearing a bra today. Some women don’t wear bras, but most women of any amount of substance would be uncomfortable, especially under something that really shows the breasts. Some women go to great lengths not to show their nipples, even taping over them under a bra.
    When modern readers get squeamish about servants, I point out that we all have them and often abuse them. How careful are we of the personal needs and sensitivities of the check-out clerk who’s messing up the pricing and putting meat in bags with vegetables? What about the airline staff serving the poor quality coffee and pretzels? Or the crews digging up the road when we really, really need to get through there and on to something. Or the busy waitress who can’t get to our table when we want her to, or is really neglectful. Do we worry about her personal life or sore feet?
    I hope no one here swears at these people or is otherwise abusive, but many do because they see these people as their servants who should be completely at their command.
    Jo

    Reply
  35. Jo here again.
    I don’t think talking about these things means criticism of personal choices. We all have different attitudes. Some of it’s cultural. As Agtigress says, the pressure to have straight teeth is mainly a US thing. And yes, some forms of teeth irregularity are unhealthy, leading to all kinds of problems.
    Incidentally, I saw a program on the women with the rings around their neck. It’s apparently not true that they can’t take them off, and one of the women did. IIRC, they don’t actually extend the neck as people assumed, but push down the shoulders, so there isn’t the weakening of the structure of the neck that seems obvious. Whether true or not, it was clear enough, and as I said, one woman took off her rings and sat there talking to the interviewer, except that she eventually said she felt naked and ugly without them, and put them back on again.
    I know people who feel naked and ugly without makeup and put it on first thing in the morning.
    It’s easy to look around and see ways we accept discomfort and even health consequences for appearance. High heels is one. Tight shoes is another. A whole generation of women messed up their toes with pointy shoes, and men did that, too, with winkle-pickers.
    Men do that low, tight belt thing. Look, I’m still a 34″ waist! Apparently it really messes up their intestines and could be part of the reason, along with the apple belly above, that such men are prone to heart attacks.
    They also often wear tight collars and ties while hating it because it’s expected. Some wear them so tight — look, I’m still a 15″ collar! — that they constrict blood vessels in the neck.
    So it’s not just women.
    I think we can often get subtlety of insight into the past by relating to aspects of our own time.
    When women wore corsets not to wear one would be a lot like not wearing a bra today. Some women don’t wear bras, but most women of any amount of substance would be uncomfortable, especially under something that really shows the breasts. Some women go to great lengths not to show their nipples, even taping over them under a bra.
    When modern readers get squeamish about servants, I point out that we all have them and often abuse them. How careful are we of the personal needs and sensitivities of the check-out clerk who’s messing up the pricing and putting meat in bags with vegetables? What about the airline staff serving the poor quality coffee and pretzels? Or the crews digging up the road when we really, really need to get through there and on to something. Or the busy waitress who can’t get to our table when we want her to, or is really neglectful. Do we worry about her personal life or sore feet?
    I hope no one here swears at these people or is otherwise abusive, but many do because they see these people as their servants who should be completely at their command.
    Jo

    Reply
  36. Jo here again.
    I don’t think talking about these things means criticism of personal choices. We all have different attitudes. Some of it’s cultural. As Agtigress says, the pressure to have straight teeth is mainly a US thing. And yes, some forms of teeth irregularity are unhealthy, leading to all kinds of problems.
    Incidentally, I saw a program on the women with the rings around their neck. It’s apparently not true that they can’t take them off, and one of the women did. IIRC, they don’t actually extend the neck as people assumed, but push down the shoulders, so there isn’t the weakening of the structure of the neck that seems obvious. Whether true or not, it was clear enough, and as I said, one woman took off her rings and sat there talking to the interviewer, except that she eventually said she felt naked and ugly without them, and put them back on again.
    I know people who feel naked and ugly without makeup and put it on first thing in the morning.
    It’s easy to look around and see ways we accept discomfort and even health consequences for appearance. High heels is one. Tight shoes is another. A whole generation of women messed up their toes with pointy shoes, and men did that, too, with winkle-pickers.
    Men do that low, tight belt thing. Look, I’m still a 34″ waist! Apparently it really messes up their intestines and could be part of the reason, along with the apple belly above, that such men are prone to heart attacks.
    They also often wear tight collars and ties while hating it because it’s expected. Some wear them so tight — look, I’m still a 15″ collar! — that they constrict blood vessels in the neck.
    So it’s not just women.
    I think we can often get subtlety of insight into the past by relating to aspects of our own time.
    When women wore corsets not to wear one would be a lot like not wearing a bra today. Some women don’t wear bras, but most women of any amount of substance would be uncomfortable, especially under something that really shows the breasts. Some women go to great lengths not to show their nipples, even taping over them under a bra.
    When modern readers get squeamish about servants, I point out that we all have them and often abuse them. How careful are we of the personal needs and sensitivities of the check-out clerk who’s messing up the pricing and putting meat in bags with vegetables? What about the airline staff serving the poor quality coffee and pretzels? Or the crews digging up the road when we really, really need to get through there and on to something. Or the busy waitress who can’t get to our table when we want her to, or is really neglectful. Do we worry about her personal life or sore feet?
    I hope no one here swears at these people or is otherwise abusive, but many do because they see these people as their servants who should be completely at their command.
    Jo

    Reply
  37. Jo here.
    Cathy, are there really children and teens who want to be in braces? I have to say I feel there’s something wrong with that, just as I feel there’s something wrong with the girls and women in the past who wanted to wear corsets, which I’m sure most of them did.
    The ferociously anti-corset heroine rarely rings true for me.Even my mother, born early in the 20th century, felt undressed without one. You know, the full body things with hooks and laces. She was convinced that the female body fell apart without one. My older sisters were in the girdle generation, so she was pacified by that. The only body shaper I’d wear was a bra and she was deeply concerned.
    She came around in the end, and even took to wearing trousers, but it took her about 65 years.
    Jo

    Reply
  38. Jo here.
    Cathy, are there really children and teens who want to be in braces? I have to say I feel there’s something wrong with that, just as I feel there’s something wrong with the girls and women in the past who wanted to wear corsets, which I’m sure most of them did.
    The ferociously anti-corset heroine rarely rings true for me.Even my mother, born early in the 20th century, felt undressed without one. You know, the full body things with hooks and laces. She was convinced that the female body fell apart without one. My older sisters were in the girdle generation, so she was pacified by that. The only body shaper I’d wear was a bra and she was deeply concerned.
    She came around in the end, and even took to wearing trousers, but it took her about 65 years.
    Jo

    Reply
  39. Jo here.
    Cathy, are there really children and teens who want to be in braces? I have to say I feel there’s something wrong with that, just as I feel there’s something wrong with the girls and women in the past who wanted to wear corsets, which I’m sure most of them did.
    The ferociously anti-corset heroine rarely rings true for me.Even my mother, born early in the 20th century, felt undressed without one. You know, the full body things with hooks and laces. She was convinced that the female body fell apart without one. My older sisters were in the girdle generation, so she was pacified by that. The only body shaper I’d wear was a bra and she was deeply concerned.
    She came around in the end, and even took to wearing trousers, but it took her about 65 years.
    Jo

    Reply
  40. J Poorman said: ‘If a female character is ‘bookish’ and reads late into the night by candle light – WHY isn’t she in need of corrective lenses?’
    * * *
    As far as I am aware, reading in poor light does not usually CAUSE vision problems!
    I agree that short- and long-sightedness would have been just as common in the past as they are today. Spectacles have been available since about the 15th century, but of course it is not really too difficult to cope with moderate degrees of imperfect vision without glasses. We expect people to have perfect sight (and it is very important for activities such as driving a car), so if we lack it, we feel obliged to correct it. In the past, I think it was more casually accepted that some people saw more clearly than others.
    Even in my own generation, I knew girls/young women who were as short-sighted as I am (and I have worn glasses all day, every day, since the age of 11) who simply did not wear their glasses when dressed up and socialising. Particularly if one is with a group of friends, some of whom may be eagle-eyed, it’s not a huge problem.

    Reply
  41. J Poorman said: ‘If a female character is ‘bookish’ and reads late into the night by candle light – WHY isn’t she in need of corrective lenses?’
    * * *
    As far as I am aware, reading in poor light does not usually CAUSE vision problems!
    I agree that short- and long-sightedness would have been just as common in the past as they are today. Spectacles have been available since about the 15th century, but of course it is not really too difficult to cope with moderate degrees of imperfect vision without glasses. We expect people to have perfect sight (and it is very important for activities such as driving a car), so if we lack it, we feel obliged to correct it. In the past, I think it was more casually accepted that some people saw more clearly than others.
    Even in my own generation, I knew girls/young women who were as short-sighted as I am (and I have worn glasses all day, every day, since the age of 11) who simply did not wear their glasses when dressed up and socialising. Particularly if one is with a group of friends, some of whom may be eagle-eyed, it’s not a huge problem.

    Reply
  42. J Poorman said: ‘If a female character is ‘bookish’ and reads late into the night by candle light – WHY isn’t she in need of corrective lenses?’
    * * *
    As far as I am aware, reading in poor light does not usually CAUSE vision problems!
    I agree that short- and long-sightedness would have been just as common in the past as they are today. Spectacles have been available since about the 15th century, but of course it is not really too difficult to cope with moderate degrees of imperfect vision without glasses. We expect people to have perfect sight (and it is very important for activities such as driving a car), so if we lack it, we feel obliged to correct it. In the past, I think it was more casually accepted that some people saw more clearly than others.
    Even in my own generation, I knew girls/young women who were as short-sighted as I am (and I have worn glasses all day, every day, since the age of 11) who simply did not wear their glasses when dressed up and socialising. Particularly if one is with a group of friends, some of whom may be eagle-eyed, it’s not a huge problem.

    Reply
  43. “Some women go to great lengths not to show their nipples, even taping over them under a bra.”
    They sell these things called “Nips” at a store in my neighborhood and they always crack me up. They’re special bandaid-like things to cover your nipples. The first time I saw them I just stared dumbly at them, then burst out laughing. Now I just shake my head and wonder who on earth buys those things.
    And you can count me as one of the women who hates “pantyhose”. Give me a good garter and stockings any day. One of the reasons I love going to England is that garters (real ones, not those skimpy, useless things you can get at Victoria’s Secret) are still common there. I go nuts and come home with a suitcase filled with garter belts, stockings, and books. LOL!

    Reply
  44. “Some women go to great lengths not to show their nipples, even taping over them under a bra.”
    They sell these things called “Nips” at a store in my neighborhood and they always crack me up. They’re special bandaid-like things to cover your nipples. The first time I saw them I just stared dumbly at them, then burst out laughing. Now I just shake my head and wonder who on earth buys those things.
    And you can count me as one of the women who hates “pantyhose”. Give me a good garter and stockings any day. One of the reasons I love going to England is that garters (real ones, not those skimpy, useless things you can get at Victoria’s Secret) are still common there. I go nuts and come home with a suitcase filled with garter belts, stockings, and books. LOL!

    Reply
  45. “Some women go to great lengths not to show their nipples, even taping over them under a bra.”
    They sell these things called “Nips” at a store in my neighborhood and they always crack me up. They’re special bandaid-like things to cover your nipples. The first time I saw them I just stared dumbly at them, then burst out laughing. Now I just shake my head and wonder who on earth buys those things.
    And you can count me as one of the women who hates “pantyhose”. Give me a good garter and stockings any day. One of the reasons I love going to England is that garters (real ones, not those skimpy, useless things you can get at Victoria’s Secret) are still common there. I go nuts and come home with a suitcase filled with garter belts, stockings, and books. LOL!

    Reply
  46. Jo, I remember being a third grader and wanting braces because it seemed like all the cool kids had them. I didn’t really have a concept of the discomfort involved. Not having them was one of the things that made me different from the in-crowd kids, like living in the country instead of town, going to the “wrong” church, and not having a boat or season tickets to Alabama or Auburn football, and I was still a decade or so away from being mature enough to be happy I had friends regardless of whether they were the “right” friends. So, yeah, I suppose there was something wrong about that, but being desperate to fit in is a common flaw among the young!
    As a teenager in the 80’s, I wouldn’t have DREAMED of leaving the house without my make-up and my hair “fixed.” I lived in small-town Alabama, and that was the way it was done. But then I caught a belated case of chicken pox as a high school senior, with enough pox on my face that my doctor said that my skin would heal better if I didn’t wear make-up for the first month or two after I got well. I discovered I could sleep 15 minutes later that way, and I’ve never been a morning person. I didn’t start wearing make-up on a daily basis again until I hit my 30’s and decided I’d look more professional that way.

    Reply
  47. Jo, I remember being a third grader and wanting braces because it seemed like all the cool kids had them. I didn’t really have a concept of the discomfort involved. Not having them was one of the things that made me different from the in-crowd kids, like living in the country instead of town, going to the “wrong” church, and not having a boat or season tickets to Alabama or Auburn football, and I was still a decade or so away from being mature enough to be happy I had friends regardless of whether they were the “right” friends. So, yeah, I suppose there was something wrong about that, but being desperate to fit in is a common flaw among the young!
    As a teenager in the 80’s, I wouldn’t have DREAMED of leaving the house without my make-up and my hair “fixed.” I lived in small-town Alabama, and that was the way it was done. But then I caught a belated case of chicken pox as a high school senior, with enough pox on my face that my doctor said that my skin would heal better if I didn’t wear make-up for the first month or two after I got well. I discovered I could sleep 15 minutes later that way, and I’ve never been a morning person. I didn’t start wearing make-up on a daily basis again until I hit my 30’s and decided I’d look more professional that way.

    Reply
  48. Jo, I remember being a third grader and wanting braces because it seemed like all the cool kids had them. I didn’t really have a concept of the discomfort involved. Not having them was one of the things that made me different from the in-crowd kids, like living in the country instead of town, going to the “wrong” church, and not having a boat or season tickets to Alabama or Auburn football, and I was still a decade or so away from being mature enough to be happy I had friends regardless of whether they were the “right” friends. So, yeah, I suppose there was something wrong about that, but being desperate to fit in is a common flaw among the young!
    As a teenager in the 80’s, I wouldn’t have DREAMED of leaving the house without my make-up and my hair “fixed.” I lived in small-town Alabama, and that was the way it was done. But then I caught a belated case of chicken pox as a high school senior, with enough pox on my face that my doctor said that my skin would heal better if I didn’t wear make-up for the first month or two after I got well. I discovered I could sleep 15 minutes later that way, and I’ve never been a morning person. I didn’t start wearing make-up on a daily basis again until I hit my 30’s and decided I’d look more professional that way.

    Reply
  49. As a child I found comfort in sucking my thumb. The result was slightly bucked teeth. My parents looked into having them fixed, but being the 7th child of a family of 8 kids money was tight and braces way too expensive. I’ll be 41 next month and I still wish my teeth didn’t look the way they do. If I had the money (which I don’t!) I’d think about having braces put in.
    I don’t have a great posture either – though I assure you my character is not affected by it – and that’s another aspect I wish would have been looked into while still a kid. Turns out, after years of back pain, it was discovered I’ve a leg shorter than the other. (B.T.W. sometimes chiropractors are a form of torture too!)
    But we do, with the idea of improving ourselves, go to some extreme mesures to look good. If someone from the early 1800’s was to magicaly drop in on us, they would think us mad. What comes to mind is body waxing, body piercing, dying and perming hair, caps & root canal, face lifts, liposuction, I could go on…

    Reply
  50. As a child I found comfort in sucking my thumb. The result was slightly bucked teeth. My parents looked into having them fixed, but being the 7th child of a family of 8 kids money was tight and braces way too expensive. I’ll be 41 next month and I still wish my teeth didn’t look the way they do. If I had the money (which I don’t!) I’d think about having braces put in.
    I don’t have a great posture either – though I assure you my character is not affected by it – and that’s another aspect I wish would have been looked into while still a kid. Turns out, after years of back pain, it was discovered I’ve a leg shorter than the other. (B.T.W. sometimes chiropractors are a form of torture too!)
    But we do, with the idea of improving ourselves, go to some extreme mesures to look good. If someone from the early 1800’s was to magicaly drop in on us, they would think us mad. What comes to mind is body waxing, body piercing, dying and perming hair, caps & root canal, face lifts, liposuction, I could go on…

    Reply
  51. As a child I found comfort in sucking my thumb. The result was slightly bucked teeth. My parents looked into having them fixed, but being the 7th child of a family of 8 kids money was tight and braces way too expensive. I’ll be 41 next month and I still wish my teeth didn’t look the way they do. If I had the money (which I don’t!) I’d think about having braces put in.
    I don’t have a great posture either – though I assure you my character is not affected by it – and that’s another aspect I wish would have been looked into while still a kid. Turns out, after years of back pain, it was discovered I’ve a leg shorter than the other. (B.T.W. sometimes chiropractors are a form of torture too!)
    But we do, with the idea of improving ourselves, go to some extreme mesures to look good. If someone from the early 1800’s was to magicaly drop in on us, they would think us mad. What comes to mind is body waxing, body piercing, dying and perming hair, caps & root canal, face lifts, liposuction, I could go on…

    Reply
  52. Oh I almost forgot to wish you a belated Happy Thanksgiving Jo. I hope the weather on the west coast is better than here in Ontario… They’re calling for snow tomorrow! Yark.

    Reply
  53. Oh I almost forgot to wish you a belated Happy Thanksgiving Jo. I hope the weather on the west coast is better than here in Ontario… They’re calling for snow tomorrow! Yark.

    Reply
  54. Oh I almost forgot to wish you a belated Happy Thanksgiving Jo. I hope the weather on the west coast is better than here in Ontario… They’re calling for snow tomorrow! Yark.

    Reply
  55. Jo – perhaps my own experience of reading books under the bed clothes by flashlight (LONG after I was supposed to be asleep) colors my view. I, too got my first classes when I was 11 – of course vanity (remember I am the one who likes high heels & panty hose LOL) led me to contact lenses when I was 15 and I have been wearing them for the last 30 years!
    I wondered if literacy was the cause of nearsightedness or if folks did have vision problems but just never acknowledged them? I know eye glasses were available but don’t know if you had to go to London – if your local doctor could prescribe them & they were mailed to you – if your local apothocary carried a variety & just tried ’em ’til you found the ones you liked – like reading glasses at the drug store nowadays?
    cheers,
    Julie

    Reply
  56. Jo – perhaps my own experience of reading books under the bed clothes by flashlight (LONG after I was supposed to be asleep) colors my view. I, too got my first classes when I was 11 – of course vanity (remember I am the one who likes high heels & panty hose LOL) led me to contact lenses when I was 15 and I have been wearing them for the last 30 years!
    I wondered if literacy was the cause of nearsightedness or if folks did have vision problems but just never acknowledged them? I know eye glasses were available but don’t know if you had to go to London – if your local doctor could prescribe them & they were mailed to you – if your local apothocary carried a variety & just tried ’em ’til you found the ones you liked – like reading glasses at the drug store nowadays?
    cheers,
    Julie

    Reply
  57. Jo – perhaps my own experience of reading books under the bed clothes by flashlight (LONG after I was supposed to be asleep) colors my view. I, too got my first classes when I was 11 – of course vanity (remember I am the one who likes high heels & panty hose LOL) led me to contact lenses when I was 15 and I have been wearing them for the last 30 years!
    I wondered if literacy was the cause of nearsightedness or if folks did have vision problems but just never acknowledged them? I know eye glasses were available but don’t know if you had to go to London – if your local doctor could prescribe them & they were mailed to you – if your local apothocary carried a variety & just tried ’em ’til you found the ones you liked – like reading glasses at the drug store nowadays?
    cheers,
    Julie

    Reply
  58. I’ve learned so much!
    Europeans and Canadians do not wear orthodontic braces except for severely altered bites.
    This made me think of just how many kids here wear braces. I cannot speak for every middle school across America, but I am not exaggerating when I say 3 out of 5 kids, here, have braces. Maybe even 7 out of 10.
    Jaclyne – I have a short leg, too. It curves the spine, in time, due to pressure. I’m not too bothered by it.
    Julie – I like heels and hose, too.

    Reply
  59. I’ve learned so much!
    Europeans and Canadians do not wear orthodontic braces except for severely altered bites.
    This made me think of just how many kids here wear braces. I cannot speak for every middle school across America, but I am not exaggerating when I say 3 out of 5 kids, here, have braces. Maybe even 7 out of 10.
    Jaclyne – I have a short leg, too. It curves the spine, in time, due to pressure. I’m not too bothered by it.
    Julie – I like heels and hose, too.

    Reply
  60. I’ve learned so much!
    Europeans and Canadians do not wear orthodontic braces except for severely altered bites.
    This made me think of just how many kids here wear braces. I cannot speak for every middle school across America, but I am not exaggerating when I say 3 out of 5 kids, here, have braces. Maybe even 7 out of 10.
    Jaclyne – I have a short leg, too. It curves the spine, in time, due to pressure. I’m not too bothered by it.
    Julie – I like heels and hose, too.

    Reply
  61. I was thinking back to the original subject of the blog and how children are portrayed in historical fiction.
    I don’t like reading too much about the children. I like knowing they exist and are a welcomed addition in the happy union, but it’s my opinion that in romance novels, they don’t really have any input into the story. Unless the childhood of the main character is mentionned to set up the rest of the story.
    Let us know how they’re treated (good, bad, ignored, adored), but don’t give them a voice. Children tend to be portrayed as either too babyish or too grown-up (precocious) for their age.
    Puts me in mind of some family movies or t.v. shows where the kid is over-acting… it just bugs the crap out of me!(that’s why I so hated watching Barney with my kids – also the Cosby Show when I was growing up) Ugh!

    Reply
  62. I was thinking back to the original subject of the blog and how children are portrayed in historical fiction.
    I don’t like reading too much about the children. I like knowing they exist and are a welcomed addition in the happy union, but it’s my opinion that in romance novels, they don’t really have any input into the story. Unless the childhood of the main character is mentionned to set up the rest of the story.
    Let us know how they’re treated (good, bad, ignored, adored), but don’t give them a voice. Children tend to be portrayed as either too babyish or too grown-up (precocious) for their age.
    Puts me in mind of some family movies or t.v. shows where the kid is over-acting… it just bugs the crap out of me!(that’s why I so hated watching Barney with my kids – also the Cosby Show when I was growing up) Ugh!

    Reply
  63. I was thinking back to the original subject of the blog and how children are portrayed in historical fiction.
    I don’t like reading too much about the children. I like knowing they exist and are a welcomed addition in the happy union, but it’s my opinion that in romance novels, they don’t really have any input into the story. Unless the childhood of the main character is mentionned to set up the rest of the story.
    Let us know how they’re treated (good, bad, ignored, adored), but don’t give them a voice. Children tend to be portrayed as either too babyish or too grown-up (precocious) for their age.
    Puts me in mind of some family movies or t.v. shows where the kid is over-acting… it just bugs the crap out of me!(that’s why I so hated watching Barney with my kids – also the Cosby Show when I was growing up) Ugh!

    Reply
  64. Thanks for all the input here. It’s been fascinating.I suspect our reading of historical fiction is strongly affected by the current cultural factors we take for granted plus our expectations about the past.
    We all live in different worlds, sometimes in minor ways, sometimes in major ones.
    Jo

    Reply
  65. Thanks for all the input here. It’s been fascinating.I suspect our reading of historical fiction is strongly affected by the current cultural factors we take for granted plus our expectations about the past.
    We all live in different worlds, sometimes in minor ways, sometimes in major ones.
    Jo

    Reply
  66. Thanks for all the input here. It’s been fascinating.I suspect our reading of historical fiction is strongly affected by the current cultural factors we take for granted plus our expectations about the past.
    We all live in different worlds, sometimes in minor ways, sometimes in major ones.
    Jo

    Reply
  67. Hello
    I’ve just found this discussion, how wonderful!
    I have done some research into child welfare 1750 to present. There is strong evidence that in the 18 and 19 centuries middle and upper class boys were sent to boarding school to “build their characters” in conditions that we would consider appalling today. meanwhile their sisters were prepared for the marriage market. This included learning how to move and look elegant in tight stiff stays. Posture was VERY important and backboards were used to teach appropriate positions of the neck, shoulders and spine.
    Mandy

    Reply
  68. Hello
    I’ve just found this discussion, how wonderful!
    I have done some research into child welfare 1750 to present. There is strong evidence that in the 18 and 19 centuries middle and upper class boys were sent to boarding school to “build their characters” in conditions that we would consider appalling today. meanwhile their sisters were prepared for the marriage market. This included learning how to move and look elegant in tight stiff stays. Posture was VERY important and backboards were used to teach appropriate positions of the neck, shoulders and spine.
    Mandy

    Reply
  69. Hello
    I’ve just found this discussion, how wonderful!
    I have done some research into child welfare 1750 to present. There is strong evidence that in the 18 and 19 centuries middle and upper class boys were sent to boarding school to “build their characters” in conditions that we would consider appalling today. meanwhile their sisters were prepared for the marriage market. This included learning how to move and look elegant in tight stiff stays. Posture was VERY important and backboards were used to teach appropriate positions of the neck, shoulders and spine.
    Mandy

    Reply
  70. another comment…..but not corsets!
    Another source of discomfort for 18 and 19 cent children was the widely held view that you had to empty your bowels every morning. There are lots of “reasons” for this, including health, religion (yes really!), conforming to rules etc. Child management books up to 1940 say how important it was. Ghastly medicines were given (at both ends) and even hot bricks put into potties to warm the bowels into action.

    Reply
  71. another comment…..but not corsets!
    Another source of discomfort for 18 and 19 cent children was the widely held view that you had to empty your bowels every morning. There are lots of “reasons” for this, including health, religion (yes really!), conforming to rules etc. Child management books up to 1940 say how important it was. Ghastly medicines were given (at both ends) and even hot bricks put into potties to warm the bowels into action.

    Reply
  72. another comment…..but not corsets!
    Another source of discomfort for 18 and 19 cent children was the widely held view that you had to empty your bowels every morning. There are lots of “reasons” for this, including health, religion (yes really!), conforming to rules etc. Child management books up to 1940 say how important it was. Ghastly medicines were given (at both ends) and even hot bricks put into potties to warm the bowels into action.

    Reply

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