Ah! here was the secret of the difference between the two girls. One mother had allowed her daughter to choose her own company and had not inquired into their plays and talks; whereas the other knew the secrets of her child’s heart and could advise and instruct her in any matter. Between Bessie and her mother there was a tie of which Nora and her mother knew nothing. “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old he will not depart from it.” Prov. 22:6.
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.”