From top: Neue Rathaus Munich; Music Box Steps Los Angeles; Livraria Lello & Irmão bookstore, Porto, Portugal; Tianmen Shen Zhangjiajie China; Hotel Bristol Palace Genoa; Herefordshire Beacon Malvern Hills and The ‘Exorcist Stairs’ Washington, D.C.
Princess Tāj al-Salṭanah (1883-1936): feminist, Iranian women’s rights activist, writer, painter, mother of four and the first woman to discard the hijab in favour of Western clothes.
It’s a measure of the changing mores of female pulchritude that she was considered the ultimate symbol of beauty in Persia during the early 1900s, when masculine features were valued in women. It’s rumoured that 132 men killed themselves when she rejected their advances.
UPDATE: A grain of salt is advised – apparently this is a junk history meme, (H/T: Ros in comments). However,Tāj al-Salṭanah (below) was a real person and there’s more to the story than meets the eye.
READ MORE: Princess Qajar” and the Problem with Junk History Memes (Victoria Martinez, A Bit Of History)
Laura O’Connell writes:
It was early on a Saturday morning and I was feeling disheveled, tired, single and old. Bundling into a lift with my two nine year old nieces I caught sight of myself in the mirror.
“God, I look disgusting” I said to myself.
“Why?” The lovely twin faces stared back at me, genuinely confused.
I looked at them and felt an instant pang of guilt. I had just taught them about female insecurities. They saw a pretty aunty, I showed them they were wrong. The last thing I want is to teach these girls about is self deprecation. They are beautiful, confident and happy at their nine years. And are about to enter into their teens- a world of constant image-analysis.
Having worked in media for the first few tumultuous year of my twenties and then tripping somewhat accidentally into the world of organic cosmetics, I have had my eyes seriously opened to that of the term “Beauty.”
I go to beauty conferences, read blogs, review new brands, trial, test, judge, inspect. And as a result I find myself fastidiously inspecting what the “New Beautiful” is. Is it BB Cream, CC Cream, Calogen, Botox, Plastic, lifts, extensions, retentions?! Is it skeletal thin, curvy, toned? Is it extra hair on top and less hair below? Is it white teeth, wavy curls, long lashes, bronzed goddess or porcelain doll?
What are my nieces up against – was it always like this?
As a woman in my late twenties, I have found it increasingly difficult to decipher what sexy and gorgeous looks like. I am infiltrated with various images, tips, solutions and diet-plans – and each one a suggestion on how I should better myself, how the Me I am now, quite frankly, won’t do. It all seems to say to me -“You thought you looked good? Well you couldn’t unless you’ve tried this!”
This all got me to thinking – Oh God? Am I perpetuating this school of thought by selling products that boost, heal and polish? Beauty is my business, after all.
My nieces don’t stand a chance.
I once read an article in which a renowned French feminist was asked why she was wearing make-up, to which she responded – “But why not? I like looking good for me. Just because I have respect for myself as a woman does not mean that I need to feel ugly.”
Hmm, self-respect huh? Self-confidence? Now there’s a new one…Is this where we need to be looking for beauty then? In ourselves? Instead of covering up can we simply be happy? And if needs be, we can enhance or polish- bring out something from inside.
Okay, okay, the whole “beauty comes from within” is an age-old proverb…but is it time that women should start taking it seriously?
This is where I’m at now. I am developing my brand on these ethics and I feel happy about it.
So, armed with a mic and camera, I went out and spoke to four ‘ordinary’ women who seemed to me extra-ordinary, inspirational, confident, self-assured, interesting and expressive. The results? In a word: Beautiful.