Looking Good: College Women and Body Image, 1875-1930 by Margaret A. LoweLooking Good: College Women and Body Image, 1875-1930 by Margaret A. Lowe

Looking Good: College Women and Body Image, 1875-1930

byMargaret A. Lowe

Paperback | August 9, 2005

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Toward the end of the nineteenth century, as young women began entering college in greater numbers than ever before, physicians and social critics charged that campus life posed grave hazards to the female constitution and women's reproductive health. "A girl could study and learn," Dr. Edward Clarke warned in his widely read 1873 book Sex in Education, "but she could not do all this and retain uninjured health, and a future secure from neuralgia, uterine disease, hysteria, and other derangements of the nervous system." For half a century, ideas such as Dr. Clarke's framed the debate over a woman's place in higher education almost exclusively in terms of her body and her health.

For historian Margaret A. Lowe, this obsession offers one of the clearest expressions of the social and cultural meanings given to the female body between 1875 and 1930. At the same time, the "college girl" was a novelty that tested new ideas about feminine beauty, sexuality, and athleticism. In Looking Good, Lowe examines the ways in which college women at three quite different institutions-Cornell University, Smith College, and Spelman College-regarded their own bodies in this period. Contrasting white and black students, single-sex and coeducational schools, secular and religious environments, and Northern and Southern attitudes, Lowe draws on student diaries, letters, and publications; institutional records; and accounts in the popular press to examine the process by which new, twentieth-century ideals of the female body took hold in America.

Margaret A. Lowe is an associate professor of history and Project Director of the Teaching American History Grant at Bridgewater State College.
Title:Looking Good: College Women and Body Image, 1875-1930Format:PaperbackDimensions:222 pages, 9 × 6 × 0.59 inPublished:August 9, 2005Publisher:Johns Hopkins University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0801882745

ISBN - 13:9780801882746

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Table of Contents

Contents:Acknowledgments IntroductionONE

Ideals and Expectations:

Race, Health, and Femininity

Fit for Academia:

Gaining Pounds, Vigor, and Virtue

Body, Spirit, and Race:

Embodying Respect

The College Look:

Campus Fashions

Modern Sexuality:

New Women, Coeds, and Flappers

The New Shape of Science:

Diets and Dieting on Campus

Essay on Sources


Editorial Reviews

Lowe uses the concepts of gender, race, and class as she explores the origins of body image through the lens of academia.