Newspapers of the early 20th century were full of quackery -- mostly in ads, but also, on occasion, in the news columns. Dr. Nellie Hughes, the source for this one-source story in the Minneapolis Tribune, was a “Western specialist” whose theories did not stand the test of time. The other medical professional mentioned, Dr. Dudley A. Sargent, was of a decidedly higher caliber. In 1881, he founded the Sargent School of Physical Training in Cambridge, Mass. Now a unit of Boston University, Sargent College still bears his name.
 

Hipless Woman Is Foreseen

 

Physician Declares Fair Sex Is Undergoing Notable Changes in Shape.

S-sh, listen! Women’s feet are said to be growing larger by a size or two, their hips to be growing smaller by a few inches, their waist lines increasing in circumference by two or three inches and bust measurement shrinking at least as much. Dr. Nellie Hughes, a Western specialist registered at the Rogers hotel, says these changes are in progress. Dr. Hughes’ statement coincides with that of Dr. Sargent of Harvard university, who has made an exhaustive study of the problem of woman’s changeable shape.

Twenty years ago, according to Dr. Hughes, woman’s physical characteristics were ultra-feminine. Her waist was small, her hips were large and her feet apparently so delicate that it was dangerous for her to attempt to stand on them.

The bust was well developed. The fashionable woman of today has a figure like that of a man, she said. Woman’s physique has been revolutionized in the United States at least.

“The corset figures prominently in the marvelous changes of woman’s figure,” said Dr. Hughes. “The tall, tender girl seems to have come to stay. During the past two or three generations woman has increased in height by inches. This is partly due to athletics, but more to the fact that nowadays there are so many women doing men’s work. Some years ago women did not so much work outside of the household, but now they are working alongside of men in office, mill and factory.”

 
The shape of women in 1910: Myrtie Foster Basford, center, lived at 116 W. Grant St., Minneapolis, with her husband, a retired tinsmith. The identities of the other women here are not listed in the Minnesota Historical Society record for this photo.

The shape of women in 1910: Myrtie Foster Basford, center, lived at 116 W. Grant St., Minneapolis, with her husband, a retired tinsmith. The identities of the other women here are not listed in the Minnesota Historical Society record for this photo.

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