‘She cannot smile the smile that wells up from the heart’: beauty, health, and emotion in Six to Sixteen and The Secret Garden

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (Book)Researchpeer-review


Beauty ideals for girls were intimately connected with the concept of health in late nineteenth-century print culture. The healthy girl would necessarily have a cheerful character and a pleasing appearance. In contrast, in the Girl's Own Book of Health and Beauty, Gordon Stables, a former Royal Navy surgeon who wrote the medical advice column for the popular British girls' magazine, the Girl's Own Paper, explains that unhealthy girls could be neither beautiful nor happy: Brightness of eyes, clearness of complexion, and happiness of expression, belong only to the possessor of health. The guide book is typical of representations of girls in fiction and advice of the period in its correlation of health with beauty and happiness. The Girl's Own Book of Health and Beauty implicitly argues against any form of external cosmetics by glorifying the relationship between inner health and pleasing external features.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationAffect, Emotion, and Children’s Literature
Subtitle of host publicationRepresentation and Socialisation in Texts for Children and Young Adults
EditorsKristine Moruzi, Michelle J. Smith, Elizabeth Bullen
Place of PublicationNew York NY USA
Number of pages13
ISBN (Electronic)9781315266961
ISBN (Print)9781138244672
Publication statusPublished - 2018
Externally publishedYes

Publication series

NameChildren’s Literature and Culture


  • girlhood
  • emotion
  • children's literature
  • Beauty

Cite this