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Perfection Defined by Health

I recently read an article on Yahoo where a group of plastic surgeons explained what the perfect woman would be today in 2013. They cited a collection of body parts from an assortment of celebrities to Frankenstein together this ideal female. It appears they are saying that this paragon of womanhood doesn’t exist in the real world.

My, how times and opinions have changed, because interestingly enough, that same article reported that a century ago, there was such a woman. Medical examiners in 1912 picked a 24 yr. old Cornell University co-ed that they deemed to have the ideal body and was the epitome of perfect health. Her name was Elsie Rebecca Scheel and she received worldwide media attention as the example of the perfect woman. Elsie stood 5’ 7”, had a bust of 34.6”, a waist of 30.3”, and hips of 40.4”, weighing in at 171 lbs. That would give her a BMI of 27 which is firmly in the overweight category by today’s standards, which states that the correct weight for her height is between 118 and 159 lbs. She was nothing like the wafer thin runway and magazine models of today. Interestingly, eating disorders like anorexia and bulimia were virtually unknown then.

Some facts about Elsie indicate that she was never sick or hospitalized. She was the picture of health, and never even took an aspirin or a Tylenol. She ate lightly, only eating 3 meals every two days. She became a nurse, and was active and athletic. She did eat some meat, but avoided sweets and caffeine. She drove her own car until very late in her life, and died suddenly at 91 years of age of a perforated bowel, but still didn’t take an aspirin. Today Elsie’s doctor would probably tell her to lose weight, and put her on some medication, but of course she would have way outlived him.

A recent study claims that having a slightly overweight BMI might actually lead to a longer, healthier life. The take away from all this is that though the definition of the “perfect 10” changes with the times and cultures, health is independent of fads and fashion and the result of good decisions. Elsie Scheel is proof of this.

Learn more about Dr. Steve Weston

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