Continued front page 2754, Pari 23
Very few women enjoy full beauty in all three periods, but enjoy it in a special way during one of them. Thus old nurses will say that pretty children grow up "plain," and plain children are termed "ugly ducklings" by kindly disposed people.
Each age has its possibilities also; and though everyone recognises the promise of youth, and beauty culture works in this first period with a calculating eye on the future, the possibilities of the two following periods are not so well understood. So we see a woman considering the second period to be the only one worth attention. Up to the age of twenty all possibilities are considered, and from twenty to forty are lived up to, always with a lurking dread of that third period when beauty will be bankrupt. At forty many women are old; grey hairs are looked upon as evidences of Time's depredations; beauty is spoken of as past.
But the third age should have also its beauty, depending upon the possibilities lying dormant under the beauty of the second age. It is the young women who make - or mar-the women they ought to begin to be at forty. The oft-told story of the man who at his majority attains to a big fortune, which he spends together with the wealth of life in his best years, has its counterpart in the career of many women born to beauty. Both live their early years under the shadow of fortune, both prepare for and anticipate coming triumphs, both then live out their gifts " for all they are worth," to use an expressive phrase, and both become bankrupt in the third stage. The fault in both cases, of course, is mismanagement of gifts and lack of culture of possibilities, though the effect of squandering is more apparent in the case of money than of beauty.
Little heed be said here of the culture of beauty in childhood when much can be done on the pliant, growing form to remedy deficiencies and minimise ugliness. Ears are trained into place, defects of sight cured, limbs straightened, hair tended to a luxuriant growth, and nose and finger-tips and teeth trained by mechanical means to conform to a standard of beauty. But it is not so often remembered that beauty has various aspects, and that the physical aspect of the second stage depends very much upon expression.
The expression of the face is the history of the thoughts, written plainly that all may judge the inner by the outer woman. Now, the form is as Nature made it, and when all is said and done comparatively little can be done to modify its shape. But the mind of childhood is a blank page, waiting till Time and Circumstance shall take up the pencil of tendencies and write thereon. The face, becoming the index to the mind, soon gathers ineffaceable characteristics whereby beauty is marred or made. The beauty culturist will say that the standard of beauty has changed, and that the ideal of beauty which gained admiration fifty years ago is now out of fashion. To-day, character counts for much; sloping shoulders are recognised, together with the long neck, as signs of delicacy; doll-like charms lack interest; tears, a demure look, and a drooping eye denote a shallow outlook on life. So, says the beauty culturist, if you want to give character to a beauty you must cultivate her mind and allow her intelligence scope. "Beauty is not (to be) skin deep. Its real elements are based upon mental and moral qualities rathei than mere physical traits." of expression can be cultivated in the early years, when a wise treatment can perform seeming miracles, and a child be transformed almost beyond recognition. Love, of course, is the alchemist, working upon pliable, unspoiled material. But as the years pass, the working of such miracles become less possible, and the face, once well and definitely marked for ill, can then only be modified, not altered for good.
Quite contrary to the usual idea, there is much to be enjoyed in the years between the full growth and the commencement of the decline of physical power at forty, and also there is much to be done. The present beauty needs to be tended and preserved, but the future beauty has to be made. A right combination of these two ideas is being revived to meet the present needs of the beauty culturist, who knows that nowadays it would be ridiculous to call a young woman of twenty-five "an old maid," only tolerable till she reaches thirty, the age when our grandmothers laid our poor maiden grand-aunts " on the shelf," and gave the poor things mobcaps and some mending. But you will observe that, though your grand-aunt was obliged to be " an old maid " at thirty, your grandmother's mobcap was worn with a demure coquettishness which, together with her self-possession and matronly airs, made her " a young matron " at thirty. Why was this ?
Merely the power of thought crystallised into custom. " You will always observe that the young people walk on the sunny side of the road of life," says a philosopher. Many women - and men, for that matter- walk on the shady side, and look lovingly at the sunny one which a habit of thought made them leave too soon.
No woman ought to relinquish her claim to beauty - physical beauty - until she is fifty. But it is too late to begin this thought at forty. You need to think about it at twenty, and carry youth on without a break, crossing the Rubicon of forty with as much capital in the way of appearance as though the years numbered only thirty. Many women drift into old age, and then protest that they are young at heart, in spite of appearances.