It Doesn’t Take Much to Feel Fulfilled

I once told someone who seemed to be very unhappy that she needed to get something that was “just for her.” She thought I was telling her to get a job which she didn’t financially need, or that she should buy something. She felt resentful that I didn’t think the money earned by her partner was also hers.

When I realized the confusion, I rushed to clarify. I wasn’t referring to money. Who cares about money, as long as you have food, clothing, and shelter? Money really doesn’t bring you happiness. I know a lot of very unhappy rich people.

No, I was referring to having something that she could do to bring her fulfillment. Something she could take pride in. Something that would give her satisfaction. It doesn’t have to do with money or things, necessarily. It just should be something that was hers.

And it turns out, according to this article, that work is strongly linked with mental health, but I would define work a little more broadly than this author does. I’d include volunteering as work. I’d also include having a project that matters to you.

Most of us in America work 40 hours a week. That is thanks to unions. Before that, many people were forced to work nearly every waking moment of their lives. Needless to say, this led to burnout and did not provide any sort of life satisfaction.

While I’m grateful for unions for some employment respite, I have no idea how they arrived at that particular number of hours per week. But because of that, we’ve kind of gotten into the habit of thinking that anything less than that is not a “real” job. That, to me, is a shame.

According to this article, there is a premise that as technology increases, there will be fewer work opportunities for the average person. Therefore, a study was conducted to determine what the minimum amount of hours should be per week in order to get the mental health boost one receives from working. This boost comes in the form of emotional fulfillment, a routine, social interaction, shared goals, variety, and identity.

The fascinating conclusion that the researchers reached was that we only really need to work 8 hours a week for mental health. From 9 hours to 48, the emotional boost doesn’t increase, nor does it decrease. After 48 hours, mental health drops off precipitously, as it does for those who do no work at all by my definition.

So, yeah, I could see myself working 8 hours a week. Of course I’d need some sort of basic income to supplement that, but as we begin to realize that capitalism isn’t the perfect philosophy it has been trumped up to be, we’re considering basic income as a possible solution, too. Sign me up!

Whatever plans the world implements, I strongly suspect that I wouldn’t recognize the society we create 50 years from now. And that excites me, even though I won’t be around to experience it. I genuinely do not believe that humans were put on this earth to be cogs in an industrial wheel, and I foresee creativity and art and imagination blooming when we’re given time to stretch those wings.

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Alcohol Stunts Your Emotional Growth

I’ve made it no secret in this blog that I Hate Alcohol. There are so many reasons for that that you’ll have to read the original blog post to find out why. I haven’t had a drink in 35 years and I can’t imagine a scenario in which I’d intentionally do so. Think of all the time and money I’ve saved, the feelings I’ve spared, and the health I’ve maintained.

Having said that, I’m not some prohibitionist. If you can drink in moderation, or only occasionally, and definitely NOT while driving, then cheers to you. I don’t care if you drink in my presence, as long as you don’t make an a$$ out of yourself. But if you know someone who is an alcoholic, whether they’ve admitted it to themselves or not, then this blog post is for you.

I’m writing this post now as New Year’s Eve is coming up, and most alcoholics will use that as handy excuse to get totally wasted. This will look even more pathetic in a pandemic year, because they will most likely do this all alone, with no fellow drinkers to cheer them on. If you’re sitting by yourself in an empty house or apartment, drinking away, then you have a problem. There’s no shame in seeking help.

But I’m going to hit you today with an observation. I’ve never known an alcoholic whose emotional growth wasn’t stunted in one way or another. I’ve been screamed at by alcoholics. I’ve seen them get violent. They throw tantrums. They take no responsibility for their actions or behavior. They are selfish. They are unreliable. They are impulsive and make very bad choices.

These are the traits of very immature adolescents.

Most people drink because they can’t cope with life. Effectively, they go away. And while they are “away”, they are not maturing as their peers are. They are not learning important life lessons because they aren’t truly living. They’re not developing people skills. They are so busy being pickled by alcohol, freezing themselves in time, that they don’t learn as much compassion as you or I do.

Alcoholics make horrible friends and spouses and parents. They will hurt you and they won’t care. If there’s any sign that you are outgrowing them, they will hurl abuse on you as you head out the door. Since their growth has been stunted, they cannot stand seeing growth in you. They will do whatever they can to hold you back.

It’s important to remember that none of this is your fault. It’s important to remember that you have a right to move on. Your alcoholic’s stunted growth doesn’t have to stunt your own.

Happy New Year. May the coming year bring you fresh insight and, if needed, a brand new start.

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A Birthday Renewal

The older some of us get, the more our birthdays remind us of our mortality. And time seems to pass so much more quickly as we age, so the hits just keep on coming. Today I’m another year older but at least I’m not deeper in debt.

But, unlike other years, when that mortality sledgehammer has hit me right as (lucky me) I’m exhausted from being at the tail end of the holidays, this year I’m actually feeling really grateful. As I speed toward what is quite likely the last quarter of my life, I’m viewing every birthday as a precious gift. Approaching one more of these anniversaries is something to be savored.

There are many reasons for this mindset, not the least of which is that I feel, more and more, that I have something to live for and lots to look forward to. Moving to the right place and marrying the right person really helps in that regard. Also, my hard work and personal growth is paying off. (So if you’re young and frustrated, please do not give up. You can do this.)

Because I feel that way, I’m exercising regularly for the first time in my life. And I’m actually enjoying it. That is unexpected. But since I have so much to look forward to, I want to experience it in the most fighting fit form that I possibly can. I still have mountains that I want to climb. (Well, hills, probably. I mean, let’s be realistic.)

Another thing that has made me stop and reassess is that I recently realized that I’ve already lived longer than my oldest sister had a chance to do. Even at the time, I knew that 54 was way too young to die, but now that I’ve blown past that, I really, really know it. I’m relatively young. I have a lot that I still want to do. It’s horrific to think that it all could end so soon. I’d feel cheated.

But who knows? Maybe I will always feel that way, when the time comes. I lack that perspective still. (If I continue to blog into my 80’s, I’ll be sure to let you know.)

I’ve also learned the priceless lesson that life is very fragile and can be taken away with no notice, so every single day should be viewed as a gift. What will you do with your gift today? Being surrounded by a raging pandemic has only reinforced that mindset for me. I am so grateful for every day.

So I think that from now on, rather than viewing birthdays as one more year closer to the end, I’ll think of them as an extension of my expiration date. They are a renewal of the contract of life, as it were. Yay! Three cheers for another year! Woo hoo!

I can’t wait to find out what’s inside!

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A Hateful, Clueless Meme

You may have seen this disgusting meme floating around on social media. A friend (Hi, Jen!) pointed it out to me, and I was instantly repulsed. The message it seems to be trying to get across is, don’t follow the mask-wearing sheep of the world. Resist. Do what you want. As if not wearing a mask makes you some kind of hero.

This meme seems to be quite popular amongst the foolish people who think that by not wearing a mask, they’re exercising a constitutional right. That is patently absurd. None of us have the right to put the lives of everyone we come in contact with at risk. We all have a responsibility to maintain public health. If that weren’t the case, we’d be pooping on the public sidewalks with impunity. Because holding it doesn’t feel good.

There are certain standards that have to be maintained in order to have a healthy society. You don’t have to like it. You just have to do it. Selfishness does not pair well with being a member of a community.

But even more offensive is the fact that this historical photograph has been appropriated to make an ignorant, hyper-conservative meme with its own agenda, when the man in the photograph was anything but a poster child for that ideology.

Let’s start with the one indisputable fact about this photograph. It was taken in 1936, during the launch of a German military training ship called the Horst Wessel. All the witnesses to the launch are giving the Nazi salute except for this one man, who defiantly keeps his arms crossed. That must have taken a great deal of courage.

Historians now think that this is a photograph of either Gustav Wegert or August Landmesser. More and more people are starting to believe it was Wegert, as there’s more evidence that he was working at the time at the shipyard. Alas, if it is Wegert, it isn’t as compelling a story. Wegert never experienced Nazi persecution. He wasn’t imprisoned. He survived the war. He was simply against the Nazi salute because he was a devout Christian. This is admirable, but not particularly exciting.

If this is a photograph of Landmesser, on the other hand, it makes for a fascinating tale. Landmesser did join the Nazi party in the hope of gaining employment, but he was later kicked out of it when it came to light that he was engaged to a Jewish woman, Irma Eckler. They were married, but the union wasn’t recognized under the Nuremburg Laws. They had two daughters. He was thrown in jail for “dishonoring the race.”

He was released from jail in May, 1938 for lack of evidence, as they argued that nobody was sure that his wife was fully Jewish. But two months later he was imprisoned again, and sent to a concentration camp. His wife was also sent to prison, and in fact gave birth to their second daughter there. She was then sent from one concentration camp to another until she finally died in 1942.

Landmesser was released from his concentration camp in 1941, but in 1944 he was drafted into a penal battalion and forced to fight. He finally died in battle in Croatia eight months later. He was 34 years old. His daughters grew up in an orphanage, and later in foster care. His oldest daughter published a book about the family’s persecution for “racial disgrace”.

Whether the defiant man in the photograph is Wegert or Landmesser is irrelevant to the message, as far as I am concerned. It is evidence that somebody was willing to stand up for their principles at a time when a lot of people were being brainwashed and following blindly or acquiescing due to fear. This photograph gives me hope. But when I look away from him and at all the others, it makes me despair. That’s why the photo is so powerful to me. It shows me that I can hold both feelings at once.

The very idea that this picture has been twisted around to make doing the wrong thing, the selfish thing, the life threatening thing seem heroic is disgusting and outrageous, and insults the memory of the man, whoever he may have been, who was brave enough to be on the right side of history.

If you created this meme, shame on you. I added the x to the meme so it couldn’t be copied and used. Not from this blog, anyway. Not today.

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An Horrific Insight

There are actually three versions of this story. The first version was my initial, gut reaction. The second was my instant reaction after obtaining more information. The third was my conclusion after some calm, pragmatic thought. Be sure and read to the very end if you want to see how quickly your point of view can be altered!

Version One:

It was your typical Pacific Northwest November night: raw, wet, cold, and basically gloomy. But I was inside, warm and safe and dry, beside a crackling fire, watching Netflix. All was right with the world, even though I was totally taking it for granted.

And then came the knock on my door. I nearly jumped out of my fuzzy pajamas. We almost never get visitors unannounced, especially in times of pandemic. Our house is relatively isolated and not close to the main street, so it takes some effort to get here. Here’s the perfect litmus test for that: There have been no Halloween trick or treaters on this front porch in decades.

It was a young man, asking for food. Not begging. Not giving an explanation or an excuse. He was just hungry and in need. He looked wet and disheveled and had nothing with him but a backpack.

My husband had him wait on the porch (safety first), and went in and made him a big sandwich. He threw an apple, a Pepsi, and a tuna snack for later into the mix. He then sent him on his way.

A wave of sadness washed over me. It was the sadness of knowing that we’d be seeing a lot more of this in the coming months. Desperate people. Cold, wet, desperate people, everywhere. And there would always be this feeling of not having done enough. There are just so many of them, and only one of me.

There’s also this sense of survivor’s guilt. I’m considered an essential worker, although I have no idea why. So my income hasn’t decreased in this pandemic. I’ve managed to stay relatively isolated and healthy, and I still have my health insurance. I suspect I’ll stay warm and dry throughout the winter. Even my dogs will get to stay warm and dry. I’m not at all accustomed to being one of the haves.

I wonder where that young man slept that night. I wonder where he’ll sleep tonight. For me, he is the leading edge of a wall of hundreds of thousands of people out there, just trying to survive. This is the wall that has been built, and it’s an ugly thing to behold.

I can’t shake the feeling that this is only the beginning. How privileged so many of us have been, secure in the knowledge that survival was likely. Now everything seems much more fragile. And a heck of a lot more scary.

Version Two:

The next day, without us even having broached the subject, some friends from 1/2 mile down the street said that the same guy came to their door that night. That time he was turned away and the theory that he was casing the neighborhood, seeing which houses don’t have men and/or dogs, for later burglary, was posited.

I was instantly furious. Had we been used? Are we now unsafe? He could see our TV through the window. I hate being taken advantage of! People suck!

Version Three:

After I had a chance to calm down and climb out from under my massive pile of righteous indignation, I realized that in both versions above, I was drawing conclusions from facts not in evidence. I will never know what that young man’s motivations were.

Was he a saint or a sinner? My most pragmatic self assumes that, like most of us, he is something in between. From that concept, a new theory has emerged for me.

It was a wet, raw, miserable night, and most criminals are lazy. If he had been casing the neighborhood, I suspect he’d have waited for better weather to do so. No one would be out in that weather without a good reason. So I suspect he was, indeed, in need.

But I also now suspect that like most panhandlers, he was hoping that if he asked for food, what he’d really get was money. Money is a much more flexible commodity. With it you can buy food you actually like. Or you can pay the rent. Or you can buy drugs or alcohol. Or you can take care of a sick child.

He did stand out on the porch and wait for the food. If he had been casing the neighborhood, that would have slowed him down. If he was hoping for money, maybe once he realized that my husband was actually fixing him food, he hoped that some actual cash would also be slipped into the bag.

The money theory makes me sad, because I feel mildly manipulated. But at least there was still a need there, whatever it may have been, and we did our best to help. I hope drugs or alcohol was not a factor. There’s no way to know.

But what’s the point of speculating, really? Our motivations were pure. If his motivations were not, that’s on him. I just hate that we live in a world where we feel the need to question and theorize. I hate that this might taint our desire to help our fellow man in the future. The bottom line is that we’ll never know the whole story.

What do you think, dear reader?

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Things to Be Thankful for in 2020

First of all, Happy Thanksgiving. This is my favorite holiday. Good food, no pressure to give gifts, and, if this were a normal year, an opportunity to see loved ones.

I realize that most of us are not getting to celebrate it in the manner in which we are accustomed, but maybe it’s a blessing in disguise. We can all focus more, if we choose to, on the many things we have to be thankful for. And we get to avoid all those awkward political conversations that would surely be happening right now if this were a non-pandemic year. Maybe we should view this as the time and space this country needs to heal its rifts.

Here are the things I’m thankful for in this crazy year:

  • My loved ones value my health enough to stay away, and are staying safe themselves, even if it’s hard.
  • Everyone I know personally that I have crossed paths with since March has had the decency and the sense to wear a mask, and because of that, so far, I am COVID-free.
  • I am quick enough on my feet to back away from the maskless strangers that I encounter, thus protecting myself and my husband.
  • I’ve had the opportunity to spend even more time with my dogs than usual.
  • I have a renewed sense of how important people are to me, and how precious life is.
  • I take nature even less for granted than I did before.
  • I am more focused on exercising than I ever have been in my entire life. (It’s a great way to work off COVID stress.)
  • I am constantly reminded of the importance of patience. It is a lesson that I have always struggled with, but I’m definitely getting more practice this year.
  • It is very easy to tell who cares about others and who only cares about themselves these days, and that information comes in handy.
  • I’m feeling very patriotic because I’m doing my part to maintain public health.
  • I’m also proud of the fact that so many of us voted for the first time, and I’m proud that no evidence of election fraud has been presented, and that just saying does not make it so.
  • I’m glad that this year is almost over.
  • I’m touched by the amount of generosity I’ve seen. Times have been tough on everybody, but they’ve been even worse for some, and I’m glad that people are stepping up and helping out at a time when the government is not.
  • I’m grateful to still have a job.
  • I’m looking forward to hate being something that is less acceptable and comfortable in this country again.
  • I value all that this year has taught me.
  • I’m grateful for all the front line workers who have seen so much horror and done so much this year, and yet still keep showing up for all of us.
  • I am grateful, most of all, for those of us who have managed to survive thus far. It’s taking a village, but we can do this.

This has been a long, exhausting year, and we’re all on the ragged edge. No doubt about it. But I hope that you, too, can still dig deep and find things to be thankful for. Post some of those in the comments, if the spirit moves you, dear reader, and know that I am thankful for you, too.

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For the Frontline Workers

Here are firsthand accounts of what frontline workers are going through right now.

Some of them have worked 250 days straight without a break.

Many have inadequate personal protective equipment, and are forced to wear one N95 mask for a 12 hour shift. They’re supposed to be discarded after each use. This is not safe for them or for the patients they serve.

Bags of personal possessions of the deceased are stacking up like cordwood in many hospitals, as no one has time to distribute them to loved ones, and those possessions were, of course, exposed to the virus.

Many workers have had to hold the cell phone so loved ones can watch as patients flatline, and there’s inadequate mental health support for these workers who do this multiple times a day as people wail over the phone.

Administrators are forced to turn patients away as they are already well above capacity, and currently 200,000 Americans are falling sick every single day. And then they’re forced to order freezer trucks to store the increasing number of dead.

El Paso, Texas has more COVID patients than many states do. How would you like to work in a hospital there?

After a 12 hour shift of dealing with this horror, if a frontline worker even has the opportunity to go home, he or she can’t hug family members, because without adequate personal protective equipment, they are having to self-quarantine so as not to put family members in danger. So they don’t even have that comfort to look forward to.

And then they get to watch so many of us declare this pandemic to be a hoax. They see people refusing to wear masks under the mistaken idea that it’s their constitutional right to make this mess so much worse. They get to see us stubbornly turn mask wearing into a political thing when it’s actually a public health thing. People are dying.

And yet the frontline workers keep showing up, day after day after miserable day, for us. I don’t know how they do it. I don’t think I could. I think I’d have fallen apart long ago. I already feel like I’m falling apart, and I don’t face ANYTHING compared to these amazing people.

I don’t feel like I’m doing enough for them. Whenever I work swing shift, I blow my bridge horn for them for 15 seconds at 8 pm as a thank you. And I’ve been told that the neighborhood appreciates it. It makes me feel like I’m doing something, at least, and I derive comfort from that.

But not everyone appreciates it, it seems. The other night, after I had blown the horn, a man got on the marine radio and said, “I don’t think anybody even knows why you’re doing that anymore. Stop it.”

At the moment, all my nerves are at the surface of my skin. I’m on the ragged edge. So this made me cry.

I started second-guessing myself. Maybe I shouldn’t do it. Maybe it’s stupid. Maybe it’s an irritant.

But after I calmed down, I got angry. Am I going to let one cranky man taint this gesture? He can’t handle 15 seconds a day of noise when these people are sacrificing so much all day, every day, and their situation is about to get a thousand times worse?

No! I’m not going to stop as long as this pandemic is still raging. I refuse. He may call and complain to my superiors, and then I’d be forced to stop, because bureaucracies react to the squeaky wheel. But I genuinely believe that people appreciate it. So until I’m forced to do so, I’ll continue to send out my lonely thank you whistle to all within earshot.

If you know anyone who is serving on the front line of this life and death battle, in any capacity at all, please share this blog with them. They probably won’t have the time or energy to read it, but I want them to know how grateful we are for every single thing that they do.

And if, by some miracle, Mr. Crankypants happens to read my blog, I have a message for him: F*** you, you selfish jerk.

What to Cook When You Hate to Cook. Recipe 11: Travel Food

I was taking a 13 day road trip, and I didn’t want to do what I had done on my last road trip, namely, eat pizza every single day. Don’t get me wrong. Pizza is one of my favorite foods. But less is more. Multiple days of it and I feel as though I’ll need a jackhammer to loosen my intestines.

Why so much pizza? Well, in the time of COVID-19, a lot of restaurants are closed, and/or stressful to enter. The one reliable source of takeout in a strange town, unless you want to resort to a fast-food chain restaurant (Noooooooo!) is pizza. So I needed to make a plan.

I decided to do my best to eat healthy. I would pack picnic breakfasts and lunches, and either pick something up to eat at a grocery store, or support a local restaurant for dinner. Not only were my intestines thrilled, but I saved a lot of money, too.

So what follows isn’t really a recipe (sorry) but more of an idea of what to pack for breakfasts and lunches and snacks for 13 days.

  • A dozen hard boiled eggs
  • Yogurt
  • Breakfast bars and/or granola
  • Cold cuts. (I went with turkey and ham and cheese.)
  • Sandwich thins. (Fewer carbs and they take up less space. Sadly, the same number of calories.)
  • Fruit (I went with apples and grapes.)
  • Carrots
  • Peanut butter
  • Nuts
  • Ranch dressing
  • Jerky
  • Dried fruit
  • Water

After that, all I needed was a cooler, plates, bowls, utensils, a roll of paper towels, and cold packs that I’d refreeze every night in the room. Sometimes, for a change of pace, I’d pick up salad fixin’s from a grocery store and add cold cuts and ranch dressing to that.

The beauty of many of these things is that they can be mixed and matched for variety. The ranch dressing is good on sandwiches, and it makes a good snack when combined with carrots. I used it to make egg salad, too. The peanut butter made for a good sandwich, and it’s also good with apples, granola or nuts. I used a different combo of cold cuts on my sandwiches each day. I could make my own trail mix.

You can even do this on road trips where you plan to fly to your first destination and rent a car. There are really efficient collapsible coolers now, or you can buy a cheap styrofoam one upon arrival if, unlike me, you don’t feel guilty about adding that to the landfill afterward. Then all you have to do is hit a grocery store, and away you go!

Making healthy choices may take a little extra effort, but it’s worth it.

Okay, okay… I bought chips when I stopped for gas, too. So sue me. I was on vacation.

What are your travel food ideas? Share them in the comments below!

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Sheele’s Green: The Color of Death

In the Victorian age, people started having gas lights in their homes. This was dangerous and could be deadly for obvious reasons. But then there were any number of deadly things to be found in the Victorian homes. One real killer, oddly enough, came about because of that gas lighting.

Before gas lighting, most people wanted to paint their walls white, because houses were extremely dark, and they needed all the light surfaces they could get to reflect the candlelight. But according to this Youtube video entitled “The Deadly Fashions of the Victorians”, once gas lights lit up the home, people wanted to enjoy bright colors. Wallpaper became all the rage.

According to this article in Smithsonian Magazine, a man named Carl Sheele developed a bright green wallpaper, and people began calling the color Sheele’s green. The problem was that that color green was made with arsenic. William Morris, the most famous wallpaper manufacturer of the time, often used Sheele’s green in his designs.

Morris either didn’t believe, or denied, that arsenic in wallpaper could harm anyone. It is interesting to note that in the video mentioned above, they mention that Morris owned an arsenic mine. He only stopped using arsenic green due to public pressure.

Sadly, Sheele’s green also appeared in paint, clothing dye, candle coloring, and printers ink. This substance was especially toxic to children and the elderly. Bright green rooms were known to wipe out all the children in many families. According to Wikipedia, it may have even played a role in Napoleon’s death.

There is a book called “Shadows from the Walls of Death” that was produced by a doctor who was trying to warn people about toxic wallpaper. It contained 100 samples of said wallpaper. You can read all about it in this article in Atlas Obscura. It is said to be one of the most toxic books in history. If you touch it with your bare hands, it can kill you. Fortunately, only 4 copies of the book remain, and they are housed in extremely controlled environments.

So, Morris denied the science at the time because he had a profit motive. Sounds a lot like those people who are denying global warming and saying, “Drill, baby, drill!” Or people who are denying the danger of COVID-19 for political reasons. Evil is motivated by greed and power and, make no mistake, those motivations can kill us all.

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The Rational Dress Society

I first learned of the Rational Dress Society by watching a show on Youtube entitled, “The Deadly Fashions of the Victorians”. Not only did it discuss their love of lead paint, and of gas heat which was prone to explosions, and of baby bottle designs that were impossible to clean and were therefore bacteria factories, but it also went into detail about the wearing of corsets.

Corsets were in fashion for 500 years. Heaven knows why. They restricted breathing to the upper lungs, often causing the lower lungs to fill with mucus. There is a reason that women were often described as “breathless” or having a “heaving bosom”. Women practically had to hyperventilate to breathe in one of these contraptions. A recent study shows that a woman wearing a Victorian corset of the most extreme type from the 1860’s had to breathe 25% faster to avoid fainting. Women who wore corsets were prone to lung infections.

Further, corsets caused livers to be squashed upwards. Many Victorian livers, after autopsy, were shown to be deeply ridged as they attempted to push through the rib cages in a desperate search for enough space to function. Corsets pushed the stomach and abdomen down as well, and were the source of many a prolapsed uterus.

According to Wikipedia, some mothers forced corsets upon their daughters at very young ages, and this caused distorted bones. Sometimes women’s rib cages would crack and puncture their lungs, bringing about death by fashion. The strictest of mothers would force their daughters to wear corsets even at night, and some even resorted to tying their daughters hands or chaining their waists to prevent them from taking the corset off for a comfortable sleep.

The Rational Dress Society was founded in 1881 in England, to protest such harmful fashion. The members felt that a woman’s movement should not be impeded, her health shouldn’t be put at risk, and her figure shouldn’t be deformed. I have no doubt that I’d have joined this society, and gladly. I’m all about comfort. I haven’t even worn heels in decades, and can’t imagine that I ever will again. The society also spoke out against high heels, and any clothes that were heavy for any reason other than warmth.

The RDS wasn’t promoting radical fashion changes. They just believed in comfort and convenience, and perhaps a style that wouldn’t render the wearer sterile. Was that too much to ask? Some of the most ardent members of the society were women cyclists, who wanted freedom of movement to cycle, as riding a bicycle was “an opportunity to escape overly restrictive societal norms.”

Unfortunately, the existence of this society didn’t seem to alter the popularity of the corset. It continued to be worn into the early 20th century. What seemed to bring about the change was a combination of things. The hobble skirt came into fashion, and it required a wider waist. In exchange, ironically enough, it severely restricted the legs. That fashion got women out of the habit of wearing corsets for about 6 years, which was the beginning of the end for corsets.

But the thing that really took the corset down was something I love: The fact that women were finding their voices. They were learning to speak out as suffragettes, and when they got the vote for women in 1920’s America, they found the time to look up and say, “I don’t want to be uncomfortable anymore!”

Good on them! We owe those suffragettes a debt of gratitude not only for getting women the vote, but also for taking our bodies back. That is why I look on in horror when I hear girls today complaining about the size of their waists.

I think the Rational Dress Society would be proud of me, sitting here in my t-shirt and baggy shorts and bare feet. No woman should ever be restricted in any way! Never again.

The internal results of tight lacing a corset.

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