Unmarried and Waiting
By Georgie Bright Kunkel
Looking at the slick and colorful pages of the Time-Life books covering life through the ages it is amazing to see the sumptuous garments and complicated hairdos of women from the fifteenth through the seventeenth century. Granted, those in such wearing apparel were the aristocracy which then made up only a small percentage of the population. There was no middle class as we know it. Women were held to standards of beauty as they are today but the standards were not maintained by tummy tucks and face lifts. The high forehead was achieved by shaving the hair and the pale complexion was achieved by using natural substances known to lighten the skin.
Every culture holds up a standard of feminine beauty which is expected of any female who wants to attract a male. However, in early times the family of the marriageable male sought out a wife for him. This woman needed to be from a suitable family that would enhance their own family status. Since in upper class society the female did not have much to say about the choice, she was offered up in marriage without a courtship period. It is no wonder that in such a society the marriage partners sought love outside marriage since love was not the basis for their union. A woman was to bear a son to carry on her husband’s family name. Can you imagine the problem that Queen Elizabeth presented when she ascended to the throne without intending to marry? The intrigue surrounding her reign and the pressure on her to marry must have been tremendous. She managed to live her life as she wished and still be called The Virgin Queen. And she managed to remain childless probably through the birth control potions known even in very early times. The extreme form of birth control was “just don’t do it” which you can imagine was not widely accepted.
Today there may be different standards of beauty and different expectations of women but beauty is still highly regarded. The TV screen is filled every quarter hour with enticements of ways to look gorgeous. The winner of the Miss America Pageant is the epitome of what a young woman strives to become. Even with the college scholarship now attached to the other prizes, there can be no mistake that the title Miss for a beauty queen is indicative of the beautiful virgin. Young girls who strive for perfection convince their affluent parents to shell out for teeth straightening, breast enhancement or reshaping a nose. But an aspirant to the title of Miss America must not have children or be pregnant. And guess what, men are not held to such standards as their contests don’t require virgin status, only strength and agility.
It is like a breath of fresh air to watch British TV dramas where people of all shapes and sizes are seen, so unlike the flawless looks of the US soap opera queens. It is no wonder that young women brought up on the look of perfection can’t stand what they see in the mirror and insist on reshaping their bodies to match what they view as the ideal. Those who adore Angelina Jolie’s full lips are lusting for Botox. Not many would follow her lead in having breast removal because of a cancer gene in the family, however.
One corporation marketing products for females has mounted a program to boost a young girl’s self esteem. If there was more interest in eliminating the false standards of beauty aired on TV there would be no need for young girls to hate their bodies in the first place. Genuine kindness and compatibility goes deeper than lust or physical attraction. But try and tell that to a teen already using birth control.