Beauty Through Pain

Many people (especially women) dream of being beautiful and they can go far to become more attractive. Some of us are not quite satisfied with our bodies, some want to become taller or slimmer, some would like to improve their features. There are different ways to achieve perfection: cosmetics, creams, lotions, beautiful clothes, etc. But in search of perfection many of us forget about health risks connected with our overwhelming desire to be fashionable and beautiful. Can we harm ourselves by improving and decorating our bodies? Of course we can.

Let us remember the past. Wishing to achieve the feminine ideal and to have a wasp waist many women wore the corset. Its origin is lost in remote antiquity. The early Egyptian women are believed to wear corsets. The corset was used in France and England as early as the 12th century. The corset became extremely fashionable in the 16th century, during the reign of Catherine de Medici of France and Queen Elizabeth of England. A lady could not consider her figure ideal unless she could span her waist with her two hands. To reduce their natural waist size women wore a strong rigid corset night and day. In the 18th century respectable women of all classes in society wore the corset (or a pair of ‘stays’). The stays were made from several layers of stout fabric, such as linen or cotton. Strips of whalebone or metal frames were used to stiffen the garment. A larger strip of bone or wood was slipped in at the centre front to keep the wearer’s posture absolutely rigid.

Many doctors warned women of the dangers of lacing corsets too tight and some advised not wearing the corset at all. One famous rent against the corset in 1874 enumerated 97 different diseases produced by stays and corsets. The alleged symptoms ranged from impaired breathing and circulation to heightened hysteria and melancholy. Many Victorian women’s fainting fits were caused not by their excessive sensitiveness but by insufficient oxygen. The corset could lead to miscarriage or deformed offspring. Besides the bones or steels of the corset could break and injure the woman who wore it.

But women continued wearing rigid corsets in spite of all health risks and obvious physical inconveniences. Why did the do it? The answer is quite simple. The fact is that physical beauty was associated with virtue. An upright posture and a slender waist became a sign of modesty, discipline and refinement. Loose clothes meant loose morals and those women who refused to wear the corset were considered to be lazy and immoral. The corset did not disappear but nowadays it is absolutely different from the corsets women wore a few centuries ago. It doesn’t lead to distortion and feebleness any more. Modern corsets have very little influence on the wearer’s body.

Many women of fashion don’t wear corsets nowadays but they should never forget that there are still many articles of clothing that can be dangerous to their health. All women like wearing high-heeled shoes because they make their legs longer and more slender. Doctors say that high-heels cause severe foot problems and foot pain. They can also lead to foot deformities and knee diseases. After all, a woman wearing high-heels may fall down and sprain her ankle.

Many people think that cosmetics and clothes can’t help them become more beautiful and they resort to plastic surgery. Reconstructive surgery techniques were performed in India in 2000 ВС. Plastic surgery developed greatly during the 20th century in the US. The world record for plastic surgery is held by Cindy Jackson, a singer and writer born in Ohio in 1955. Cindy tried to achieve the Barbie Doll look but she also wanted ‘to look convincingly natural’.

Some people cover their bodies with tattoos. Tattooing is popular in many parts of the world and it is practiced for decorative, religious or other reasons. Julia Gnuse (known by the nickname The Illustrated Lady’) is the world’s most tattooed woman, having coverage of 95% of her body. Doctors warn people against possible dangers of tattooing including infection and allergic reactions.

Many young people decorate their bodies with piercing. Elaine Davidson holds the Guinness Record for being the most pierced woman in the world. The total weight of her jewelry is about 3 kilograms and Elaine has no intention to stop at what has been accomplished. Body piercing is a painful and risky procedure: it can cause allergic reactions and bacterial infection. Infection due to piercing of the tongue can be fatal!

Before experimenting with your body think twice. Is the game worth the candle? Remember that health and beauty are inseparably linked. That is why don’t turn yourself into an invalid for the sake of beauty, fashion or fame.

1. Read the following sentences and circle TRUE or FALSE: 1) People can’t harm themselves by improving and decorating their bodies. T|F|
2) The corset appeared in France and England in the 12th century. T|F|
3) In the 18th century respectable women of all classes in society wore the corset. T|F|
4) One famous rent against the corset in 1874 enumerated 50 different diseases produced by stays and corsets. T|F|
5) Nowadays women don’t wear corsets any more. T|F|
6) Low-heels cause severe foot problems and foot pain. T|F|
7) Plastic surgery developed greatly during the 20th century in the US. T|F|
8) Infection due to piercing of the eyebrow can be fatal. T|F|
2. Complete each sentence (A — H) with one of the endings (1-8): A. There are different ways to achieve perfection:
B. Wishing to achieve the feminine ideal and to have a wasp waist
C. The corset became extremely fashionable
D. The stays were made from several layers of stout fabric, such as
E. Strips of whalebone or metal frames were used to
F. Many Victorian women’s fainting fits were caused not by their excessive sensitiveness but by
G. Reconstructive surgery techniques were performed
H. Doctors warn people against possible dangers of tattooing including
1. many women wore the corset.
2. insufficient oxygen.
3. cosmetics, creams, lotions, beautiful clothes, etc.
4. in India in 2000 ВС.
5. in the 16th century, during the reign of Catherine de Medici of France and Queen Elizabeth of England.
6. infection and allergic reactions.
7. linen or cotton.
8. stiffen the garment.
3. Read and translate the following proverbs and sayings and find their Russian equivalents. Explain their meaning — Beauty lies in lover’s eyes.
— Grace will last, beauty will blast.
— Never judge by appearances.
— Fine feathers make fine birds.
— Handsome is as handsome does.
— There is no accounting for tastes.
— It is not the gay coat that makes the gentleman.
— Beauty is but skin deep.
— Prettiness makes no pottage.
— The face is the index of the heart.

4. Answer the questions
1) Why aren’t many people satisfied with their bodies?
2) What effect did the corset produce on the wearer’s figure?
3) What health risks were connected with wearing the corset?
4) Why did many women continue wearing rigid corsets in spite of all health risks and obvious physical inconveniences?
5) What can you say about modern corsets?
6) Why do women like wearing high-heeled shoes?
7) What are the reasons for not wearing high-heels?
8) Why do people resort to plastic surgery?
9) Why is tattooing popular in many parts of the world?
10) Why is body piercing a risky procedure?
11) How far can you go to become more beautiful and attractive?
12) What are the safe ways to become more beautiful?
5. Fill in the table
For — Against corset
high-heels
plastic surgery
tatooing
piercing

6. Read the quotations below. Choose any quotation and comment on it — ‘To give pain is the tyranny; to make happy, the true empire of beauty.’ (Samuel Butler)
— ‘All the freaky people make the beauty of the world.’ (Michael Franti)
— ‘Beauty is the sole ambition, the exclusive goal of Taste.’ (Charles Baudelaire)
— ‘Personal beauty is a greater recommendation than any letter of reference.’ (Aristotle)
— ‘There is no excellent beauty that hath not some strangeness in the proportion.’ (Francis Bacon)
— ‘Beauty is also submitted to the taste of time, so a beautiful woman from the Belle Epoch is not exactly the perfect beauty of today, so beauty is something that changes with time.’ (Karl Lagerfeld)
— ‘Beauty is whatever gives joy.’ (Edna St. Vincent Mi I lay)
— Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in, where nature may heal and give strength to body and soul.’ (John Muir)
Solve the crossword.
Across
1.The medical practice of changing the appearance of people’s faces or bodies. It can be cosmetic and reconstruction.
3.A piece of tight-fitting underwear that women wore especially in the past to make their waists more slender, (picture 2)
6. The state of being as good as possible.
9. The narrow part in the middle of the human body.
10. A thick smooth substance that you put on your skin to make it feel soft.
12. A liquid mixture that you put on your skin or hair to clean, soften, or protect it.
13. A picture or writing that is permanently marked on your skin using a needle and ink. {picture 1)
14. A hole made through part of your body so that you can put jewellery there, or the process of making these holes.
Down
2. A piece of clothing (formal).
4. The substance that you use on your face and body in order to look more attractive (such as powder, lipstick etc).
5. A quality that people, places, or things have that makes them very attractive to look at.
7. A part of someone’s face, such as their eyes, nose etc.
8. A style of clothes, hair etc that is popular at a particular time.
11. The way you position your body when sitting or standing.

A. What is your ideal of beauty? Discuss it with your group mates.

B. Read the text ‘Beauty Through Pain’ and discuss the title of the text.

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Beauty Through Pain