An Accomplished Girl

“She looketh well to the ways of her household, and eateth not the bread of idleness.” (Proverbs 31:27)

rose22I read in the society column of a paper the praises of somebody’s daughter in which she was referred to as an accomplished young woman, and the reason given for calling her by this high-sounding term lay in the fact that she could sing well, spoke three languages, was active in social work, etc. I could but smile as I read; for from my point of view these are not the accomplishments a girl needs the most. Such things are good in their place, and if girl can gain them she is fortunate; but the best accomplishments are in the reach of every energetic, enterprising girl.

First of all a girl should know how to keep house. She should not only know how a room should look after it is put in order, but she should by actually doing it know the work necessary in bringing that condition about. She should know how to make beds, sweep and dust, and other hard work necessary to keeping a house in order. It should not be below her dignity to know the use of the scrub brush and mop. Though she may not do the work regularly, she should know how and be able to fill the place when necessary.

The girl should be able to cook good, nourishing meals. It is not enough that she can make fudge and salad and cake. She should be able to cook vegetables and meats in an appetizing manner.

The girl should be able to launder her own clothes, and do it well. The steam will not ruin her complexion, nor will her hands be spoiled by the process. And she will have a great deal more sympathy for the one whose life is made up of hard work if she occasionally feels the backache that comes from this kind of labor.

Our girl should know how to sew, and to mend. It takes time and patience to learn these things, but it pays in the long run. There are few girls who have never come to a time when these things were necessary.

The girl may plead that she does not need to do this kind of work, that her father is able to hire it all done. That may be true; but it is also true that many girls who began life in just such an easy way have come to circumstances where help could not be hired. I shall never forget the discomfiture of one dear girl who had become quite accomplished on other lines, but had not learned these homely arts, and did not begin to learn them until she had two small children to care for. Small help her music and other accomplishments were then. She needed just the things we have been talking about now.

Our accomplished girl should know how to take care of her own body, keeping it clean and in a healthy condition. All her learning will be of little service if she is sickly and weak.

Our girl should learn some useful way of wage-earning, so that in case of necessity she will be able to make her own way. Such things happen in life, when the strongest bars are taken away and the girl all sheltered from danger and hardship is pushed out by the hand of fate, and if she is not able to do something that will bring her a livelihood her lot is a sad one.

And every girl should have a education in business, or at least an understanding of common business methods. Many are the women who face the world in terror because they must do business and have no idea of how it is done.

These things I have been talking about constitute, it seems to me, a real foundation for true accomplishments, and all that a girl can learn over and above these is that much to her praise and credit. She should know how to entertain. According to her place in life she should be able to be hostess to her friends and those who come within her gates, and do it with ease and grace.

Although girls of today are entering open doors of opportunity everywhere, becoming teachers, businesswomen, and social leaders, yet most of them will after all in time become homemakers and mothers. And since this is the life work of the many, ought not they all to be accomplished in those things they will need the most? Since practically all girls have a home to learn these things in, ought they not to take advantage of their opportunities? The world will call the woman accomplished who can take her place in the social life and work of the world, but let us not forget these homely accomplishments which are the real foundations of woman’s work and place in life.

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