Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Victorian Era Bathing Instructions


I've had a book for several years titled The Physician and Sexuality in Victorian American written by John S. Haller and Robin M. Haller (book link below). I'm always amused when I pick up this book. It reminds me of how fortunate I am to be living in this century, instead of in the Victorian era.

Tonight, I read that physicians in the Victorian Era were opposed to women taking baths in the "zinc coffin" (bathtub). I had to giggle when they described the ritual:

"That zinc coffin, wrote Dio Lewis, M.D., "in which you lie down, put your head on a strap at one end, and keep yourself from drowning and then balance yourself for a while in a sort of floating condition, is simply a stupid absurdity."

It went on to say: ...."the rubber or oil-cloth bathing mat which the woman placed on the floor of her bedroom was the most hygienic".

The ritual for bathing without a tub: "...you must have a wash-bowl with two or three quarts of water....a pair of bathing mittens-simple bags......these are made out of worn out crass or Turkish towels. .....with a piece of good soap - matters what little kind - you are ready. .....standing on the centre of your bathing mat, with your mittens or bags upon your hands. Seize the soap...go over every part of the skin..... Rub the soap several times.... Now, dipping your hands into the water, rinse off the soap, although if it is winter, and the free use of water chills you, you may apply very little water and wipe the soap-suds from your skin. .......it is an excellent practice to leave a certain portion of the soap on the skin. It will continue the neutralizing the oil."

Yeah...right. These instructions exhaust me so I must climb into my steel coffin after lighting my scented candles, pouring myself a glass of wine, and grabbing my blow-up pillow.


If you are intrigued by the Victorian Era, you may enjoy the book
THE PHYSICIAN AND SEXUALITY IN VICTORIAN AMERICA


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