**** ROTATE **** **** ROTATE **** **** ROTATE **** **** ROTATE ****

Find this Story

Print, a form you can hold

Wireless download to your Amazon Kindle

Look for a summary or analysis of this Story.

Enjoy this? Share it!

The Outer And The Inner Woman
by [?]

It is a sad commentary on our boasted civilization that cases of shoplifting occur more and more frequently each year, in which the delinquents are women of education and refinement, or at least belong to families and occupy positions in which one would expect to find those qualities! The reason, however, is not difficult to discover.

In the wake of our hasty and immature prosperity has come (as it does to all suddenly enriched societies) a love of ostentation, a desire to dazzle the crowd by displays of luxury and rich trappings indicative of crude and vulgar standards. The newly acquired money, instead of being expended for solid comforts or articles which would afford lasting satisfaction, is lavished on what can be worn in public, or the outer shell of display, while the home table and fireside belongings are neglected. A glance around our theatres, or at the men and women in our crowded thoroughfares, is sufficient to reveal to even a casual observer that the mania for fine clothes and what is costly, per se, has become the besetting sin of our day and our land.

The tone of most of the papers and of our theatrical advertisements reflects this feeling. The amount of money expended for a work of art or a new building is mentioned before any comment as to its beauty or fitness. A play is spoken of as “Manager So and So’s thirty-thousand- dollar production!” The fact that a favorite actress will appear in four different dresses during the three acts of a comedy, each toilet being a special creation designed for her by a leading Parisian house, is considered of supreme importance and is dwelt upon in the programme as a special attraction.

It would be astonishing if the taste of our women were different, considering the way clothes are eternally being dangled before their eyes. Leading papers publish illustrated supplements devoted exclusively to the subject of attire, thus carrying temptation into every humble home, and suggesting unattainable luxuries. Windows in many of the larger shops contain life-sized manikins loaded with the latest costly and ephemeral caprices of fashion arranged to catch the eye of the poorer class of women, who stand in hundreds gazing at the display like larks attracted by a mirror! Watch those women as they turn away, and listen to their sighs of discontent and envy. Do they not tell volumes about petty hopes and ambitions?

I do not refer to the wealthy women whose toilets are in keeping with their incomes and the general footing of their households; that they should spend more or less in fitting themselves out daintily is of little importance. The point where this subject becomes painful is in families of small means where young girls imagine that to be elaborately dressed is the first essential of existence, and, in consequence, bend their labors and their intelligence towards this end. Last spring I asked an old friend where she and her daughters intended passing their summer. Her answer struck me as being characteristic enough to quote: “We should much prefer,” she said, “returning to Bar Harbor, for we all enjoy that place and have many friends there. But the truth is, my daughters have bought themselves very little in the way of toilet this year, as our finances are not in a flourishing condition. So my poor girls will be obliged to make their last year’s dresses do for another season. Under these circumstances, it is out of the question for us to return a second summer to the same place.”

I do not know how this anecdote strikes my readers. It made me thoughtful and sad to think that, in a family of intelligent and practical women, such a reason should be considered sufficient to outweigh enjoyment, social relations, even health, and allowed to change the plans of an entire family.