In 1914, when medical professionals and public servants were consumed with questions about the fitness of youth to fight on future battlefields, this photograph was taken. It is intended to illustrate the debilitating effects of schooling and (especially) reading on the growing body. Quite clearly such activities were inimical to the development of a manly posture.
I enjoy showing this picture to teenage boys, who often sit exactly like this, but with devices on their laps instead of books. My middle-aged neck and shoulders tell me that posture really does matter, but this 100 year old photograph shows that kids never have listened, and are never likely to. I’m grateful, however, that no teen boys I know will be going overseas to fight any time soon, unlike these ones, whose posture no doubt improved in time for them to join the AIF.