The green disease
In the 1890s, 16 per cent of those admitted to St Bartholomew's Hospital in London were diagnosed with chlorosis. Symptoms included anaemia, amenorrhea, lack of appetite, and fatigue. But the most unusual — and the one that gave the disease its name — was the greenish tinge to the skin of the afflicted. It was known until the mid-1700s as the "disease of virgins", and the best cure was thought to be intercourse. Boarding schools catering to the daughters of wealthy families were thought to be breeding grounds for chlorosis, much as they have been thought to be hotbeds of anorexia in modern times. The two diseases, it turns out, have much in common: both have been strongly associated with femininity and thought to be diseases of the body and of the soul, born at least in part from the turbulence of adolescence and the restrictiveness of women's societal roles. As a cure, doctors told young women to get married and reproduce, exercise or quit their studies, as befitted societal expectations. The disease, associated with iron deficiency, eventually faded away, likely because of better treatments and the end of overdiagnosis. (Via ozy.com)
All dressed up and nowhere to go
Covid-19 hasn't just closed offices; restaurants, nightclubs and other habitats of formal footwear have also shut. The collateral damage is dressy-styled shoes like heels being replaced by more casual and comfortable options, such as sneakers and flats. Now there are fewer occasions to wear them and so less reason for shoppers to buy a new pair. Known for styles such as statuesque stilettos, Jimmy Choo saw sales decline 23 per cent for the quarter through March 28 compared to the same period last year, and when lockdowns shuttered stores around the US in May, sales of dress shoes plunged more than 70 per cent. Pumps and strappy dress sandals were the hardest hit styles. But dress shoes were already facing challenges before the pandemic with a 12 per cent drop in the US in 2019. Sneakers, which have the advantages of versatility and comfort, have been encroaching more and more into their territory.
Single dad lockdown
"I'm trapped in the house with Tenzing, my 6-year-old son. I cook vegetables for him, set up Zoom classes, play Monopoly Junior. He wants to pillow fight when I'm working, ride on my back when I'm reading. Does he watch too much YouTube? Should we sneak into the playground? When will this end? It's a relief when his mother picks him up for her four days. But as soon as he's gone, I call her to ask how he's doing. I'd rather have him driving me crazy than feel his absence in this house." (Ranjan Adiga - Tiny Love Stories, from the New York Times.)