Sunday, May 3, 2015

Medieval Beauty Standards


Portret damy by Rogiera van der Weydena

Lady Owien by Alan Lee

   In the above photos you can see three women from the Medieval time period. In this time period Christianity was a major part in life and beauty. Since Christianity had made a huge entrance into the everyday lives of people women generally wanted to look like Mother Mary. Mother Mary was often depicted with a long neck, slender body, pale clear skin, long hair, and a relatively large forehead. When it came to achieving this ideal of beauty women did wear makeup, but it wasn't very obvious because the church hadn't really approved the use of makeup so there was a stigma over makeup, makeup was also associated with hookers and actresses so women didn't want to wear a ton of makeup and be associated with these people. Since the church hadn't really voiced it's thoughts on makeup women normally resorted to home remedies such as herbs, juices, distillations, blood of a hare or bull, brimstone, and willow tree water to help get flawless skin.(Please don't tries these at home. They're weird.) The shops that sold makeup even had back doors so that way the women could buy makeup without being seen going in and out of the store.
   Makeup products that women generally bought was white powder, blush, eyeliner, and sometimes lipstick. When it comes to what these products were made out of the normal substances were crushed up bugs or flowers for pigment in eyeliner, blush, and lipstick which isn't that bad, but those products weren't used nearly as much as white face powder which was made out of white lead. Yes, the poisonous metal. The reason why this product was used so much was to cover blemishes on their faces such as scars, pimples or traces of the plague that generally showed on the face first. Since the church hadn't really voiced it's thoughts on makeup women normally resorted to home remedies such as herbs, juices, distillations, blood of a hare or bull, brimstone, and willow tree water.
   Aside from makeup women would also not eat as much as normal in order to achieve a slender body. Slender body types where generally favored just as much as pudgier body types for men, but women normally liked a more slender and sleek look. As for getting a larger forehead women would normally pluck the hair from their hair line by their forehead in order to make their forehead seem larger. Women of high status also plucked their eyebrows and eyelashes.
 
Albrecht Dürer self portrait (age 26)

   As you can see Medieval men weren't really held to very high standards because they already held a ton of power just for being born a male. Older men would wear blush on order to look a bit younger and, shaving facial hair wasn't desired because that made them look more feminine. Honestly, for men the more masculine you looked the better. Hair length doesn't seem to have been a huge thing to worry about, but pale skin was still desired but not obsessed over like it was for women. Men would also use some home remedies if signs of the plague surfaced on their skin or if they had a stubborn pimple, but this was rare and considered a drastic measure just for a pretty face for men.
 

2 comments:

  1. Hey Brittany! I stumbled upon a video that you might like for your Genius Hour topic. I know you presented yesterday, but I think you might find this interesting. The video actually goes over most of the things you presented in class. https://youtu.be/Xrp0zJZu0a4

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