IT is difficult to establish a criterion for a beautiful form. It is so much a matter of taste and opinion. The fleshy admire thin slender people, and their scrawny sisters have a weakness for flesh. Of course we have the Greek Slave and Venus di Milo as emblematic of beauty in the female form. If Powers had dressed his "slave" in a costume of the nineteenth century, or Venus herself had been discovered robed in the innumerable bands and gathers that surround the waist of most women of the present day, even their beauty would be left to the imagination. If women would study the lines of their own figures, and dress to show the finest curves off to the best advantage, beautiful forms would not be such a conspicuous rarity. One very seldom sees a bad figure on the stage. It is not because the forms of actresses are so much better, or nearer perfection than are the forms of women off the stage, but because actresses know how to dress. It is a part of their profession, and a beautiful form commands a much higher salary than a beautiful face. There must be a happy medium between flesh and thinness. If fleshy, one must reduce the weight by exercise, bathing and diet. Drink very little water, and no stimulants, excepting claret, which is very good in making rich blood and reducing flesh. If thin, drink milk and drink a great deal of it, and plenty of exercise and bathing will not reduce the weight as in the directions for reducing flesh, but gives solidity and firmness to the flesh acquired by the milk diet.
In the matter of dress, the latest craze in "dress reform" has one (I do not say it has but one) decidedly sensible feature, viz., the close fitting underwear and skirt of silk or some material to be laundried without starch. "Jersey" underwear comes in silk, lisle-thread and cotton at all prices, is within the reach of every one, and fits like the skin. Silk underwear may be more expensive in the purchase, but is decidedly the, most economical in the end, as it will outwear several investments in any other material.
A woman, in order to be dressed according to the natural curves of her body, should wear jersey underwear, one shirt, a well fitting corset over the skirt, a dress made in the princess style, or some style where the perfectly curved seams of the bodice reach below the waist line, showing the symmetrical lines of the hips as well as of the waist. This style of dressing is becoming alike to slender and fleshy people, and modifications must be made in the style of drapery upon the skirt. + Never mar the hip line if you would have the reputation of having a fine figure. And never deform yourself with a bustle. If a prevailing style demands a hump on the back, the drapery can be arranged so that the absence of a bustle is not noticeable, but be particular that the fullness commences two or three inches below the waist line, so that the gracefully curved lines of the back are not destroyed.
Women do not as a general thing make a study of themselves in the matter of dress. Even the most exquisitely dressed of them are left to the mercy of a dressmaker, who stocks up in styles and ideas from two to four times a year. It is not expected that a dressmaker can devote much time to the individuality of each customer, consequently there is a great similarity in the make-up of women. Occasionally we meet a woman that people rave over. Her beautiful form and exquisite dressing are discussed wherever she goes, and in nine cases out of ten her form is no nearer perfection than are the forms of her admirers. She has made dressing a study, and understands the art of forming graceful outlines.
Many women inclined to enabonpoint are annoyed by the enlargement of the abdomen. It is not at all necessary, and is the result of unconscious carelessness more than anything else. One of the first things taught in "physical culture" is the correct position of the body in walking, standing or sitting, and it is that the stomach should be drawn in, the shoulders, or body from the waist up, inclined slightly forward (which throws the lower part of the back out), and in breathing above the belt. The muscles of the lower stomach, or abdomen, are developed and enlarged by using them in breathing. A well-known physician says the deformity is purely the result of careless habits in standing, walking or sitting in unnatural positions. Be that as it may, the unpleasant disfigurement can be remedied by strict attention to the foregoing suggestions.