This section is from the "The Young Mother. Management of Children in Regard to Health" book, by William A. Alcott. Also available from Amazon: The Young Mother
The same general principles which should guide the young mother in regard to the dress of boys, are equally important and applicable in the management of girls. The whole dress should, as much as possible, hang loosely from the shoulders, without pressing on the body, or any part of it. This, I say, is the grand point to be aimed at; and this is the only great principle, whatever some mothers may think, which will lead to true beauty of person, and gracefulness of gesture.
There is, however, a slight difference to be made between the dress of girls and that of boys. The greater delicacy of the female frame requires that the surface of the body should be kept rather warmer, as well as better protected from the vicissitudes of the atmosphere.
But is this the fact? Is not the contrary true? While boys in the winter are clad in warm woollen vestments, covering every part of their trunk, many portions of the female frame, and especially many parts of their limbs, are left so much exposed, that in cold weather you scarcely find a girl abroad, who appears to be comfortable.
Nay, they are not only uncomfortable abroad, but at home; and if I were to present to mothers in detail, a tenth of the evils which their daughters suffer from not adopting a warmer method of clothing, I should probably be stared at by some, and laughed at by others. All this, too, without speaking of going out of warm concert rooms, theatres, ball rooms and lecture rooms, into the night air, or out of school rooms and churches, to walk home with measured and stiffened pace, lest the sin unpardonable of walking swiftly or RUNNING,—that active exercise which health requires, which youthful feeling prompts, and which duty ought to inspire,—should unwarily be committed.
The tremendous evils of confining the lungs have been adverted to at sufficient length. In reference to that general subject, I need only add, that if the chest be not duly exercised and expanded, the liver, the lungs, the stomach, digestion, absorption, circulation and perspiration, are all hindered. And even so far as the various internal organs of the body are active, they act at a great disadvantage. The blood which they "work up," is bad blood, and must be so, as long as the lungs do not have free play. Hence may and do arise all sorts of diseases; especially diseases of OBSTRUCTION; and such as are often very difficult of removal.
What can be a more pitiable sight than some modern girls going home from school or church in winter? Thinly clad, the blood is all driven from the surface upon the internal organs, and what remains is so loaded with carbon, which the lungs ought but cannot discharge, that her skin has a leaden hue; her teeth chatter; her very heart is chilled in her panting, frozen bosom; she cannot run, and if she could, she must not, for it would be vulgar! Every mother should shrink from the sight of such a picture.