B is For Bustle

A large  derriere was in fashion during the Victorian era.  The early bustle took a simple form of a padded roll worn around the waist which originally held up the skirt off the ground. When worn, the bustle’s effect was completed with layered fabric, bows, trains, and tassels on the outer garment. In the late Victorian period, the bustle acquired a more pronounced backward pouf, reflecting one’s high status. Bustles were created out of coiled springs or horsehair bags held in place around the waist. Housework would have been impossible when wearing a 2-foot deep wire garment.

The above pictures show the differences thanks to the White River Museum. Mrs. Burke is in white and was high society. Her husband opened the Burke Museum near the UW in Seattle.

Beauty in Fashion

Women’s beautification and fashion had its period of suffering in history. The corset is a great example. Different forms of corsets started from the 16th century until it ended in the 20th century. The tight lacing constricted women’s waists and many believed it reduced their normal waist size by 2-4 inches. In the earlier eras, children also wore corsets for a ‘healthy’ shape. This didn’t apply only to girls. Boys were also affected. During the 19th century, physicians perceived health hazards related to corsets that resulted from fainting to detrimental effects on the internal organs. The Women’s Rational Dress Movement promoted healthier forms of dress such as bloomers, split skirts, and the bodice. However, some women contradicted the Movement, stating corsets provided women with a means of demonstrating their social status, self-discipline, and sex appeal. A ‘loose’ woman never wore a corset.

Within decades, fashion designers replaced the hourglass figure with an androgynous female form. The new idea was a slender, long-limbed, flat-chested look for the iconic flapper silhouette.

Improve Your Bone Density

Bone disease leads to an estimated 1.5 million fractures annually for women above 50 years of age. Osteoporosis affects 54 million people. You can’t control genetics, age, and family history, but you can control your lifestyle choices. Research shows that  soda, smoking, and obesity contribute to poor bone health.

In postmenopausal women, smokers have higher levels of bone loss and fractures than nonsmokers. Smoking decreases blood flow to the bones. Bones are living tissue and need optimal blood flow to be healthy.

Women in their 60’s and up who drank dark-colored soda had lower bone densities than women who didn’t drink soda on a regular basis. Soda contains phosphoric acid which zaps calcium from the bones and teeth, making them weaker.

Strength training builds bone health. Repetitions with light weights increased bone density up to 29 % in postmenopausal women. Exercise builds bone. A sedentary lifestyle makes the bones weaker. They need to be worked to remain strong. According to a recent study, adults that took 7,000 steps per day or spent 15 minutes per day engaged in physical activities had better bone health.

Your diet plays a role in multiple health conditions which also affects bone health. Anti-inflammatory diets rich in fruit, vegetables, and grains improved bone health.

Certain medications can cause bone loss. Thyroid medications, Omeprazole, and steroids are known for this. Ask your doctor if there are alternatives.

Stick and stones may break your bones, but a bad lifestyle can make things worse. Help preserve your bone density and your body will love you.

The Woman That Fought for Pants

March was Women’s History Month. I went to the White River Museum to see the displays about the past working women. The museum also had information and books on the subject of women’s voices in the past. I found this story interesting and thought I would share it. It’s about a woman that stood up to wear pants.

The revolution of 1789 was fought by the poor and most of them women. All over Europe, the poor revolted against the rich. The people worked long hours in filthy conditions for scraps of food and a place to live. They marched down the streets and demanded fair wages, bread, and soap.

With each new revolution, ruling men took away the rights of women so they couldn’t form clubs or take part in politics. Times were hard and sickness everywhere. Crops were failing and people were hungry. This is the world Marie Suize lived in. She was one of ten children and she wanted a better life.

In France of 1849, a poster advertised about the riches of mining gold in California. Marie Suize followed her brother to America for a chance at a better life. They arrived in California and took a steamboat to Sacramento. From there, they rode mules to the mining camp of Amador County. The miners were eager to see a woman, but they expected Marie to cook and clean for them. Marie had other ideas and told them no. She wanted to dig for gold like her brother.

There were standard dress codes for women in those days. After mud filled her shoes and soaked through her skirts, Marie had a terrible time getting to the gravel area. The miners laughed at her. Marie went back to her shack and put on her brother’s extra pair of pants and one of his shirts. She pinned up her hat and smashed a hat over her head. She pulled on some tall boots and strode through the mining area. The men were shocked at her attire. A lady wasn’t supposed to dress that way. The few women that came to camp, snubbed her because she wore pants. It was illegal for a woman to wear pants. It was considered “cross-dressing.” Marie worked as hard as the men in mining for gold and eventually they accepted her. They nicknamed her, “Marie Pantalon.”

Marie struck it rich. She invested in shares of mines and she also bought some land. She prospered by making wine on her land with a friend. Marie opened a wine shop in San Francisco and a liquor store in Virginia City, Nevada. Marie loved the freedom of wearing pants, but the law was firm. One day, she drove her wagon to Virginia City to check in on her store. She was reported by some gossipers and arrested for wearing pants. Marie was fined five dollars and instructed to wear lady’s attire.

Her adventure caused a protest during the Women’s Suffrage Movement and they organized a meeting to express their indignation. Many of the ladies in California did not approve of Marie’s pants. The Women’s Movement was afraid they would lose their fight for the vote if they appeared to want their freedom too. They thought of Marie as an embarrassment. So by the time she returned to Amador County, Marie was arrested for wearing pants. Her fellow miner friends supported her. They coaxed the judge into dropping the charges, as it was a waste of time and to go hunting instead. Marie lived out her days in that town and wore her pants. She wore a dress though, whenever she left her county.

Back in the 1970’s,  girls also fought for the right to wear pants to school. The dress code had been for girls to either wear a dress or a skirt to their knee caps, until the law was changed. Women are strong and will always fight for what’s right.