A Plea for Real Beauty

This article has been a long time coming. Both of my parents have suggested it to me independently of each other, my mother being inspired by a conversation with a stranger about the colour of her hair and my father being inspired by, what else, a conversation about breast implants that he had had with an acquaintance. They both believe in real beauty and I guess they practice what they preach, seeing as how they raised me, a young woman who can boast about being 100% natural and complete (and peanut free) … except for that bit of ink in my back and that metal in my ear lobes and navel. Of course, this addendum raises a tough question for me; what exactly is real, natural beauty? Continue reading

Female Adornment and Image in Ancient Rome

In ancient Rome, there was but one aspect of a woman’s life that she had almost complete dominion over: how she decorated and adorned her body. Although she did, in most cases, require a man to provide articles of adornment and servants to do her hair and make-up, the Romans believed that it was a man’s responsibly to ensure his female family members’ appearances were consistent with his rank.[1] Roman women used jewellery, clothing, hairstyle and make-up to project their wealth, power, influence, rank in the community and status as an adult woman, as well as, to control their public image and how they were perceived. In essence, women used adornment to have control over their own bodies. This essay will explore how women used each category of adornment to display their wealth, rank, status and image, and how doing so was significant to their life as it gave them an opportunity to have power in their relationships, influence in their community and control their bodies in a world where nearly every part of their life was governed by a man. Continue reading

The Modern Accomplished Woman

In the days of Jane Austen, a young woman was defined by her accomplishments. In order to win a husband, a woman must know how to play the harp or pianoforte, draw or paint a picturesque scene, read French and Italian, sew, dance, dress well, speak eloquently and write with a clear and hand. These many skills were appreciated by prospective husbands as they thought that an accomplished wife would be good at caring for him and entertaining his friends, although she frequently quitted them after the goal was achieved. Today however, young women seek accomplishments as a way to build life skills and arm themselves for the battle of equality. If a modern woman wishes to be respected by both genders in the modern world she must have a university education, financial independence, basic table manners, a satisfactory level of physical fitness, a want and ability to deliver her opinion confidently and have control over her emotions (one must never cry at work). Bonus accomplishments include knowing how to cook and complete basic home, car and computer maintenance. A woman is expected to be able to take care of herself; therefore, she typically continues exercising and attaining accomplishments after she is married. On first inspection, the times seem to have changed quite a bit, though women still see an importance in being accomplished, they value different sorts of accomplishment, work for different goals and set different end points for learning and using their skills. However, we do still bear a resemblance to our Regency Era counterparts; we both prize self improvement through education, and self control through etiquette for the purpose of presenting ourselves well to society. Continue reading