At Christmas time Bessie received the following letter from one of her friends:
I have long wondered what to send you as a Christmas gift, and it seemed a hard problem to solve. I fear you will wonder at what I am sending; but, knowing that you are nearly thirteen years old and must be growing very fast, I have decided to send you a corset. I hope you will like and appreciate it enough to wear it.
Lovingly your friend,
On receiving the package, Bessie looked at the corset and said, |Mama, shall I wear it?|
Mrs. Worthington looked anxiously at her daughter; for she knew that Bessie would have strong temptations along this line, as she did not have a pretty form, and was growing rapidly. She had hoped, however, that the subject would not be mentioned for some time. Silently she breathed a little prayer for wisdom to answer the question, and then said:
|Bessie, God used great wisdom in forming your body. He knew just what shape it would have to be in order to perform its natural functions. Do you think it would be proper to try to change it? Do you wonder why something snug around your waist could be harmful? Listen, dear, and I will tell you. Let us take the corset and examine it. It certainly looks very innocent and pretty, but just see how stiff it is. These steel ribs and this whalebone make it more like a piece of harness than anything else I can think of. When worn about the waist, it produces pressure upon the vital organs and thus deforms the body. These long strings at the back are often drawn so tightly as to cause the misplacement and derangement of those organs whose functions are most necessary to health and happiness. As a consequence, many a woman has to suffer long years of torture.
|Many women say they don't wear the corset tight, and think, therefore, that no harm results; but, let one of them put a snug-fitting bandage on any other part of the body, and she will see how quickly the muscles of that part will weaken and decrease in size. Should a young woman who has never worn a corset attempt to wear one about her waist as loosely as they are ever worn, she would, if honest with herself, cast it aside as an abominable thing.
|The reason why Lizzie wants you to begin wearing a corset while you're young is that, if you'll bind your waist before you've reached your full growth, your waist will never attain the size it would have attained under natural conditions. In other words, you would be deformed.|
|I don't think I shall ever wear it, Mama, if that's the effect it has upon the body. If God takes such particular care of us that he numbers our very hairs, he must be very much grieved to see any one put a corset about her waist.|
|I'm glad for your decision, my child, but you'll soon meet greater temptations. Some mothers don't think it worth while to warn their girls of the dangers that threaten them in regard to love and marriage; but I want to see you, Bessie, fully prepared, so that you may safely pass this dangerous period.
|Most girls at your age have some strange idea regarding love. In the schoolroom, perhaps, a girl notices some particular boy who has a winning way. At first she simply thinks he is nice; is glad to see him promoted, receive honor, etc. Gradually her mind becomes filled with queries concerning his opinion of her. She dares not own that she loves to appear well in his eyes, but it is true nevertheless. During his absence she misses him, and upon his return her heart beats with emotion. If he pays her little attentions, she dwells upon them until she becomes eager for them. Her playmates notice a change in her, for she can no longer hide her feelings. She blushes when mention is made of her preference for him. The couple seek to be together as much as possible, and are soon meeting together secretly. When reproved, they may promise not to let the thing happen again, only to repeat it in a short time. The secrecy of these meetings make them more enjoyable, and their length and frequency are unconsciously increased.
|Satan, who is never asleep upon such occasions, makes reproof his companion to push them forward. Friendly warnings are unheeded; and if force be used to prevent the meetings, the couple may think of eloping. They may not have thought of marriage until this time; but when the girl realizes what she has done, she consents to the hasty marriage. Such marriages, Bessie, seldom result happily.
|The place to stop was at the beginning. She should have gained control of her wandering affections. Young girls who lavish their love upon boys of their own age or older lose relish for other things, and their minds become dwarfed and weakened by being taxed with thoughts that are not fit for them to consider at so early an age.
|It is all right to form in your mind an ideal for your affections, if you don't have in mind some particular person; but your common sense should be your guide. Two rowboats passing each other upon the water are all right as long as they are far enough apart; but let these boats drift or be guided too close together, and there is great danger of a collision. Your affections are to you what the rudder is to the boat, and reason is your pilot. They will guide you aright if you will let them.|
|Mama,| said Bessie, |there's a girl in our school, only a few months older than I, that says she is to be married in a short time. The man she's to marry is nearly twice as old as she is, too. We told her that she ought to wait until she wore long dresses before she talked about getting married. Don't you think that is dreadful?|
|Yes, dear, it is. No girl should ever be married while she is so young.|