In the mid- to late-1800s, a phenomenon known as “fasting girls” were documented in the Americas and Europe. These young girls, usually preteens, claimed that they could survive for long periods of time without eating.
During the Middle Ages, some saints were said to have been able to survive without nourishment. Because of this precedence, many of the Victorian-age faithful regarded these fasting girls as miraculous and saw this self-starvation as a sign of sanctity. As a result, these young girls became spectacles, put on display, often for a price and always at a cost.
Thankfully, the fascination with fasting girls faded. Doctors eventually determined that these girls had suffered from anorexia nervosa, an eating disorder where food intake is restricted as a way to cope with negative emotions.
Categories: Book Reviews
Tags: book blog, book review, books, critique, family, opinion, religion, secrets, starvation, Wales, Welsh history
Many of us have been there at least once in our lives. Standing in a crowded airport, patiently waiting for our suitcases. Meanwhile, lots of look-alike luggage slowly passes by, piece by piece. All around are other passengers, hustling and bustling, grabbing their possessions and hurrying on. And still, we wait and we wait and we wait. Where the heck is that darn suitcase?
Union and Confederate soldiers, abolitionists and slaveholders: They are all found in the branches of our families’ trees.
As a child, I would sit at the knee of my Great-Uncle Roy, listening to stories about Taylor-Thomas kin who fought in the War Between the States. I heard tales of how families were torn apart because of differing ideologies and how my own family experienced this strife when two brothers chose different sides. Although both men survived the war, the battle continued for decades, and supposedly neither spoke to the other again.
As an adult, I have discovered similar stories in other branches. In the Watts-Stark line, Stark and Bailey ancestors defied their South Carolinian and Virginian parents, embraced abolition, manumitted or emancipated their own slaves, and moved away from these slave states to the border states of Missouri and Kentucky. Other family members in both my maternal and paternal lines were active abolitionists. Several were Quakers, whose faith condemn slavery as both ethically and religiously wrong, while others, both above and below the Mason-Dixon Line, did their part to help slaves on their flights to freedom, providing food, shelter, and safe passage through their property. Because of these family members, I knew that not all white Southerners supported slavery.
Every family tree has them. Those eccentric kin who march to their own beat. However, there is a point where eccentric becomes something more. For some, this is a temporary condition; for others, it is long-term reality. Either way, for these family members, people euphemistically say that they are not all there, are off their rocker, have a screw loose, are out to lunch, or are just not right in the head.