100 years ago, the New York Times declared Elsie Scheel of Brooklyn the "most nearly perfect specimen of womanhood."

The premise behind that assertion is kind of gross — a doctor at Cornell (Elsie's alma mater) examined hundreds of female students to find the one who had the closest proportions to the Venus de Milo, which is creepy — but the old newspaper clippings themselves are delightful; headlines include "BEEFSTEAK HER MAINSTAY" (caps necessary!) and "Is Very Strong, Weighs 171 Pounds, and is 5 Feet 7 Inches Tall — Means to Grow Vegetables."

Some fun facts about Elsie, who did not have a "single physical defect":

  • She was an "ardent suffragette."
  • "She says she has never been ill and doesn't know what fear is." !!!!!
  • "The girls at Sage College, she thinks, work too hard at their studies and too late at night." Elsie is so chill.
  • She studied horticulture, but "if she were a man she would study mechanical engineering." If Elsie was around today, I'm pretty sure she'd be the CEO of Google. Or President.
  • She has never had tea or coffee in her life!
  • "She knows many of the industrial conditions at first hand, such as the cotton mills and the oyster canneries. Welfare work is a subject of vital importance to her."
  • Her mother, who studied medicine after her children grew up, is her "ideal woman."

    Ok, we concur: Elsie is the best.

    [Gothamist]