A little background on this article: I wrote this essay earlier this year for a history project on beauty practices of different cultures. Lily Williams is fictional character, as well as Jonathan Friendly and the Truth Seekers Missionary Organization (Jonathan Friendly was the narrator for many of my projects). I hope you enjoy this perspective on true beauty.
Adventures with Lily Williams
By Taylor Garms
Streams of Civilization
Project 15, Chapter 15
Hi! I am Lily Williams, a volunteer at Truth Seekers Missionary Organization. I work with people like Jonathan Friendly in studying the past to enlighten the future. This report is about interesting beauty techniques that different cultures have tried to make their girls and women "beautiful." Jonathan thought it would be best if a girl wrote this article, so he asked me to share with you the unique ideas people have had about beauty.
Girls and women have always had the desire to be beautiful and attractive, because God designed us that way to please our husbands. But the notions and beauty tips concocted over the years have been interesting to say the least.
Let’s say I was a fashion specialist around 400 BC in Maya, located in Central America. You come to me for advice about beautifying your baby girl. I would tell you to wrap the baby’s head tightly with strips of cloth and small boards. This would make your baby’s skull longer and very attractive. Oh, and don’t forget to hang a string with beads from your baby’s forehead. This will make her eyes cross-eyed and especially pretty. She will be the fashion statement of the country! Now seriously, these were practices of the Mayan people and they thought their people were most beautiful.
Consider now the Chinese. For many years, Chinese women bound the feet of their baby girls, bending the toes underneath the foot. The soft bones of the babies soon became set in this uncomfortable position. The little girls would cry from the pain, but the parents did not take off the wrappings. Why? For the sake of attraction. You see, the Chinese thought that the smaller the woman’s feet, the more beautiful she was. Men would not want to marry a girl with large feet, the parents insisted. So China was filled with limping and stumbling girls and women, caused from the pain and instability of their deformed feet.
In England and the early years of America, corsets were very popular. What’s a corset? It’s a stiffened garment worn by women under their dresses with laces to fasten it tightly to shape the waist. It was very uncomfortable! In the Little House series, Laura Ingalls Wilder recalled how dreadful it would be to wear them:
'"I’m glad I don’t have to wear corsets yet," said Carrie. "Be glad while youBefore you say that all these cultures were crazy, wait to you hear about this one. In this culture, girls heat metal to make their hair as straight as a board. They pierce their bodies with lots of earrings, tongue rings, nose rings, belly button rings, you name it, till it looks like they have fallen into a tackle box! If your hair has more color in it, the more beautiful you are. Women, and men, have specialized plastic added to their bodies to make certain parts of their bodies more attractive. Imperfections are removed from their appearance. In some cases, whole faces are transfigured to be made more beautiful. Girls starve themselves to make their bodies thin and slender. Heavy powers and liquids are used to transform faces, eyes, and lips, and to hide flaws.
can be," said Laura. "You’ll have to wear them pretty soon." Her corsets were a
sad affliction to her, from the time she put them on in the morning until she
took them off at night. But when girls pinned up their hair and wore skirts down
to their shoe tops, they must wear corsets. "You should wear them all night," Ma
said. Mary did, but Laura could not bear at night the torment of the steels that
would not let her draw a deep breath. Always before she could get to sleep, she
had to take off her corsets. "What your figure will be, goodness knows," Ma
warned her. "When I was married, your Pa could span my waist with his two
hands."' -Little Town on the Prairie
If you haven’t caught on already, this example is today’s culture. Beautiful in our culture has become so crazy, no one knows what true beauty is any more. Magazines scream out with pictures of skinny women with wild make-up and lots of bare skin: "You have to look like this to be truly beautiful." The picture of the teen-age girl staring into nowhere and wearing miss-match clothing with skull earrings states, "This is true beautiful." How many girls are threatened with death and health issues because of their self-inflicted anorexia nervosa and bulimia? Do you know that 25% of girls diagnosed with anorexia die? That’s a lot! And think, all for the sake of the quest for true beauty.
True beauty should be more of the inner self, not the outward appearance. Beauty will eventually fade away, but a woman's character will last her her entire life. True beauty should consist of a quiet and gentle spirit, willing and helpful hands, a bright smile, cleanliness, and a love for God.
Well, I have a lot more I could say on this subject, but Jonathan says I should get off. Hope you have a different perspective now!
Your Sister in Christ,