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Sunday, April 7, 2013 COLUMBIA DAILY TRIBUNE 3E

Body & Style

Discovering the secret benefits of breast milk By Nicholas Day

August Kryger photos/Tribune

Stephens College Costume Museum & Research Library Assistant Curator Jennifer Cole puts a historic spring dress on a mannequin at the Stephens College Historic Costume Gallery for the gallery’s “Emergence: Winter Shades to Spring” exhibit.

evolution of style stephens exhibit traces life aND times of fictitious socialite By Karyn Spory

S | 815-1705 he would have had style, grace and a closet anyone would die for. She would have kept a close watch on her figure, and she would have purchased clothing to add to her seasonal closet instead of buying only for a season. An exhibit at the Stephens College Historic Costume Gallery is designed around a fictitious socialite. Visitors are allowed a glimpse at how her style would have evolved from 1947 through 1990. The exhibit, “Emergence: Winter Shades to Spring,” runs through May 5 on the mezzanine floor of Lela Raney Wood Hall. Over spring break, the exhibit and the socialite’s wardrobe shifted from winter whites and silvers to spring pinks, yellows and greens. “The daffodils are arriving,” said Monica McMurry, dean of the Stephens College School of Design and Fashion and costume gallery curator, as a canary yellow, Oscar de la Renta dress, circa 1970, was slipped onto a mannequin by exhibit guest curator Bradley Meinke. Although the exhibit has shifted its focus to spring fashions, several winter pieces will be kept in the exhibit, including the exhibit’s oldest piece, a 1947 black-and-white Eisenberg dress. The quality and construction of the garments are part of what makes them notable. “Women really planned their wardrobe” in past decades, McMurry said. “It was a conscious decision what you bought season to season to build upon past seasons.”

Details of one of the dresses on display as part of the “Emergence: Winter Shades to Spring” exhibit.

McMurry said in today’s fashion culture, consumers have a tendency to buy something, wear it once and get rid of it. The fictional socialite would have entered college in the late 1940s, married in 1955 and lived in a metropolitan area. “She had a lot of events to attend in the evening, and she had a lot of volunteer work during the day,” McMurry said. As opposed to today’s concept of dressing in jeans to volunteer, the socialite would have worn suits to her volunteer activities and luncheons associated with her causes. “It showed sophistication,” McMurry added. Meinke said this fictitious woman would have maintained the same size throughout her

life. “It’s a very accurate woman,” Meinke said, pointing to similar style icons like Jackie Onassis, Ann Slater and Nan Kempner. McMurry said when spending thousands of dollars on garments, women keep their bodies the same size. McMurry and Meinke pulled 250 garments for the show, which might seem like a lot until you realize they had to search through 13,000 garments to make their picks. Although the socialite they were dressing is nameless and fictional, both McMurry and Meinke knew her and her style. “We’d go through tent after tent of clothing downstairs, and we’d pull out either almost the same garment or” a garment from “the same donor,” McMurry said. Donors included Virginia Burns Opperheimer, Dottie Wells and Frances Kelly. The socialite would have looked for dressmaker details, such as interesting seaming or decorative buttons. Staples of her wardrobe would have included her fur coat, an alligator handbag and, until the 1960s, a hat. McMurry said the 1960s is the only time the socialite would have strayed away from her timeless, tailored style —choosing to dress in a mod metallic coat-and-dress combo that were both “off the rack” mass manufactured brands in 1969. The silver coat, which was seen during the winter exhibit, now flows open so the audience can gaze at the pink lining and see the chic metallic dress beneath. “It’s looking like spring already,” McMurry muses, as Meinke switches out one of the socialite’s winter suits with a Malcolm Starr pink lace dress.

Slate When we come out of the womb, we make our way to the breast. We enter the world knowing we’re mammals, with milk on our minds. But even as grown-ups, we have never known exactly what’s in that milk — or, as strange as it might sound, what the point of it is. For decades, milk was thought of strictly in terms of nutrients, which makes sense — milk is how a mother feeds her baby, after all. But providing nutrients turns out to be only part of what milk does. And it might not even be the most important part. “Mother’s milk is food; mother’s milk is medicine; and mother’s milk is signal,” says Katie Hinde, an assistant professor of human evolutionary biology at Harvard — she also writes the fascinating blog Mammals Suck. “When people find out I study milk, they automatically think we already know about it or it’s not important. And I’m like, ‘No, we don’t know about it, and it’s super important.’ ” But first, a disclaimer. In my new book “Baby Meets World,” I write about how, contrary to myth, not nursing has never been a death sentence. Hundreds of years before halfway-decent formula, infants were fed gruesome substitutes for breast milk — mushed bread and beer, say — and although many more died than those who were nursed, many also survived. So the lesson of the new science of milk isn’t that formula is some sort of modern evil. It’s that milk is really complicated — and evolutionarily amazing. Here’s how complicated: Some human milk oligosaccharides — simple sugar carbohydrates — were recently discovered to be indigestible by infants. When my son was nursing, those oligosaccharides weren’t meant for him. They were meant for bacteria in his gut, which thought they were delicious. My wife was, in a sense, nursing another species altogether, a species that had been evolutionarily selected to protect her child — a relationship immortalized in the paper titled “Human Milk Oligosaccharides: Every Baby Needs a Sugar Mama.” In effect, as Hinde and UC-Davis chemist Bruce German have written, “mothers are not just eating for two, they are actually eating for 2 times 1011 — their own intestinal microbiome, as well as their infant’s!” That’s what is meant by milk serving as medicine, and that’s only scratching the surface. But Hinde primarily studies the food and the signal elements of milk. “The signal is in the form of hormones that are exerting physiological effects in the infant,” she explains. “Infants have their own internal hormones, but they’re also getting hormones from their mother. They’re binding to receptors in the babies, and we’re just starting to understand what those effects are.” Hinde works with rhesus macaques, and she has tracked the effects of the hormone cortisol in their milk. Cortisol is often thought of as the stress hormone, but its function is far more varied, and Hinde has found that the

The signal is in the form of hormones that are exerting physiological effects in the infant. Infants have their own internal hormones, but they’re also getting hormones from their mother. They’re binding to receptors in the babies, and we’re just starting to understand what those effects are.”

— Katie Hinde, assistant professor of human evolutionary biology at Harvard University

amount and especially the variation of cortisol successfully predicts how the infant macaques go on to behave. It’s a stunning finding: The composition of early milk seems to mold infant temperament. But — and here’s the twist — the males were much more sensitive than the females. Roughly, the more cortisol, the more bold and exploratory the male rhesus macaques were. Such sex-specific variations in milk, possibly “programmed” by the placenta during gestation, might be common. In humans, there’s early data suggesting that mothers produce fattier milk for boys than girls. But that might be only part of the story, as Hinde has found with rhesus macaques. “Just because sons are getting better milk doesn’t mean they’re getting more. It looks like they’re getting very similar total calories.” So why do sons get fattier milk? “In rhesus macaques, daughters stay in their social groups their whole lives,” Hinde notes. “They form a bond with their mother that only ends when one of them dies. So it might be that mothers are nursing their daughters more frequently, and that helps establish this bond.” In contrast, the sons end up leaving the group — and fattier milk means they nurse less often, which means they can spend more time playing with strangers, developing skills they’ll need later in life. The milk, in other words, reflects and cements the social structure of rhesus macaques. We think of milk as a static commodity, maybe because the milk we buy in the grocery store always looks the same. But scientists now believe that milk varies tremendously. It varies from mother to mother, and it varies within the milk of the same mother. That’s partly because the infants themselves can affect what’s in the milk. “Milk is this phenomenally difficult thing to study because mothers are not passive producers, and babies are not passive consumers,” Hinde says. Instead, the composition of milk is a constant negotiation, subject to tiny variables. Nicholas Day’s book on the science and history of infancy, “Baby Meets World,” will be published this month.

Handout photo/The Washington Post

On the left, Adidas’ Energy Boost shoe, which features a “boost” material to provide maximum energy return; on the right, Nike’s Flyknit Lunar1+, which can mold to the shape of your foot.

Energy boost, support pods among latest innovations in running shoes The Washington Post Running-shoe companies want you to lace up their newest innovations. Find out which of these styles is the right fit for you. Don’t know where to wear it? We’ve got the ideal debut for each shoe. Adidas Energy Boost ($150, What’s New: No, Adidas didn’t crush Styrofoam cups and slap them on the bottoms of these shoes. The white stuff is “boost,” a material designed to provide maximum energy return, which means “people are able to run faster, longer or both,” boasts Chris Brewer, the brand’s running specialty manager. Company testing has shown that the cushioning won’t wimp out in extreme heat or cold and doesn’t break down, so the shoes feel the same on mile one and mile 327. Wear Test: Adidas recommends ordering a half size larger than normal, and even if you do, prepare for a snug fit. That’s partly because the compression fabric on the upper takes some getting used to, but wide feet will probably

never be happy, even with such a spring in their step. Not a neutral runner? Wait until adiStar Boost debuts in August. Run For It: In shoes that will live forever, you’re ready for the Vampire 5K ($60, April 26, Vampire5k. com), which pits bloodsuckers against citizens. Pick a side and flee or chase through fog, red powder and strobe lights. The untimed event, which is being held in Washington, Denver, Los Angeles, Atlanta and Dallas, ends with a party under the full moon. TevaSphere Trail ($120, Teva. com; Trail is for women only; $140 waterproof Trail eVent is also for men) What’s New: They’re light and low to the ground, so why is this minimalist shoe different from all other minimalist shoes? It’s made for people who can’t help but heel strike. Instead of squaring off the back of the shoe, Teva opted for a rounded design that rolls the foot forward no matter which way you land. That could be dangerous if it weren’t for the support pods placed on each side of the arch to prevent ankle rolling.

Wear Test: Those steady pods make it seem like your feet have kickstands. It’s an odd sensation but one that you’ll probably be grateful for when heading off-road through unknown terrain or at a muddy adventure race, which is what the whole TevaSphere line is made for. They’re best at downhill running. Run For It: You’ll need something to keep you steady during a 120-mile overnight relay. At Ragnar Trail Appalachians in West Virginia (June 7 and 8,, teams will camp out while members take turns on three loops. Registration prices ($1,160 for teams of eight, $700 for teams of four) rise after April 13. Ragnar is also running trail relays in Zion, Utah, in April; Tahoe, Calif., in July; McDowell Mountain, Ariz., in October; and Vail Lake, Calif., in November. Nike Flyknit Lunar1+ ($160, What’s New: This isn’t your grandma’s knitting. The shoe’s upper is made of a polyester yarn that’s woven tighter in spots that need more support and looser in

ones that don’t — like above your toes. You can customize the fit by placing the shoes near a teakettle or a hot shower. Put them on when they’re warm and steamy, and they’ll cool into the shape of your foot. The process “will make it like it’s been your shoe for a while without breaking down,” says Philip Deeter, assistant head coach of product at Nike’s flagship store in Washington’s Georgetown neighborhood. Wear Test: The shoe’s light weight and the thin fabric on top make it feel like a sock. But the cables that wrap around the sides and the cushioning system remind you that you’ve laced up. That support doesn’t correct overpronation, however. After you “steam to fit,” there’s an immediate — but very subtle — shift in shape. Run For It: If you were too slow to nab a slot in Washington, D.C.’s inaugural Nike Women’s Half Marathon (April 28, nwmhalfdc), you can’t get a finisher’s necklace designed by Tiffany & Co., but you’re invited to celebrate female athletes at the “Expotique” over race weekend.

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