Tag: D.L. Dowd

The Life and Times of Professor Dowd

Born in Nelson Flats, New York, in 1854 Dowd was, if his own accounts and obituaries are to be believed, a somewhat unathletic child in his youth. Writing some decades after Dowd’s passing, W.A. Pullum, a renowned British physical culturist, claimed that Dowd “showed nothing in his youth to indicate that destiny marked him out to become one day a great physical culture figure.” Pullum went on to claim that while Dowd did not suffer from any serious illness, his physique, according to his peers was “rather on the meagre side.”[i] This idea of the young weakling was, as explained by Ana Carden-Coyne, a common trope in health biographies.[ii] By disclosing one’s own personal shortcomings during a previous stage in their lives, health entrepreneurs could advertise their miraculous transformation using a specific dietary protocol or workout. The most dramatic example of this was of course Charles Atlas who, during the 1930s and 1940s, advertised using his now famous “Insult that made a man of Mac” comic strips.[iii]