See the women--pallid women, of our land!
See them fainting, dying, dead, on every hand!
    See them sinking 'neath a weight
    Far more burdensome than Fate
Ever placed upon poor human beings' backs.
    See them falling as they go--
    By their own hands burdened so--
Paling, failing, sighing, dying, on their tracks!

See the women--ghastly women, on the streets!
With their corset-tortured waists, and pinched up feet!
    Hearts and lungs all out of place,
    Whalebone forms devoid of grace;
Faces pallid, robbed of Nature's rosy bloom;
    Purple-lidded eyes that tell,
    With a language known too well,
Of the sick-room, death-bed, coffin, pall and tomb.

See the women---sickly women, everywhere,
See the cruel, killing dresses that they wear!
    Bearing round those pounds of jet,
    Can you wonder that they fret,
Pale, and pine, and fall the victims of decay?
    Is it strange the blooming maid,
    All so soon should droop and fade--
Like a beast of burden burdened, day on day?

See the women and their dresses as they go,
Trimmed and retrimmed, line on line and row on row;
    Hanging over fragile hips,
    Driving color from the lips,
Dragging down their foolish wearers to the grave!
    Suicide, and nothing less,
    In this awful style of dress!
Who shall rise to women's rescue, who shall save?

See the women--foolish women, dying fast;
What have all their trimmed-up dresses brought at last?
    Worry, pain, disease and death,
    Loss of bloom and gasping breath;
Doctors' bill, and golden hours thrown away.
    They have bartered off for these
    Beauty, comfort, health and ease--
All to ape the fleeting fashion of a day.

Poems of reflection. By Ella Wheeler Wilcox.
Chicago, M.A. Donohue & company, [c1905].

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