Weighing scales were displayed in parlours in 19th centuryDecember 13th, 2008 - 5:39 pm ICT by ANI
Washington, Dec 13 (ANI): Dread going near the weighing scale after the holiday season? Well, then you will be surprised to know that in the late 19th century, scales were actually a rage at festive gatherings.
While todays scaled are plain, the 19th century scales were garbed in polished wood and semi-precious stones.
“A family would think it fun to weigh themselves before and after a big holiday dinner to see how much they had gained. Knowing your weight was a novelty, a kind of parlor trick, before scales became widely available through mass production,” said Deborah I. Levine, Ph.D., an Andrew W. Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow in the Modeling Interdisciplinary Inquiry Fellowship Program in the Humanities and Social Sciences in Arts & Sciences at Washington University in St. Louis.
And unlike today, home scales, instead of being hidden away in a bathroom, in the 19th century used to reside in prominent places in parlours, where family and guests would gather to socialize, likely alongside other popular 19th-century devices for body measurement.
They were garbed to fit in their elaborately decorated environments.
“Parlor scales, which use the same technology that many doctors” office scales use today, often were made with highly polished wood, with inlay designs and semi-precious stones,” said Levine.
But, in the early 20th century, with the evolution of attitudes about weight, medical and life insurance industries set weight “norms” for healthy individuals, and Americans began to see being over- or underweight as hazardous.
Levine said that a person’’s weight became more than just a number. It was health information, and having too big or too small a figure could mean serious consequences.
And eventually, a fun fact to be shared and compared among family and friends was transformed into a statement about a person’’s health and even moral character.
Levine said as the public’’s perception of weight changed, so did scales” places in fine society.
They were banished from their lofty spots in parlours to kitchens and finally, to bathrooms. Sequestered scales no longer needed to impress, and their ornate decorations gave way to the plain white or grey often seen today. (ANI)
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