Thursday, March 25, 2010

Cleopatra Queen of Egypt

Remembered in history as alluring, powerful and glamorous, Cleopatra, whose beauty enraptured Roman leaders and changed the fates of many, was not very attractive by the standards of the modern ideal. The layers of fat that encircled her wide, short neck were called “Venus rings” by art historians. Her hook nose was also seen as beautiful by women of the time, who preferred a downward-pointing, high, noble-looking nose. Even despite such points of contemporary beauty, however, Cleopatra was still fairly average in appearance for the time- being around 5ft, the average of the time, it was her seductive ambition that was her key trait and the one that she is best remembered for. Her immortalisation as a beauty was actually due largely to her other qualities- intelligent, powerful, and hungry for more power, ruthless and determined. Still, as a woman, is she immortalized as an extraordinary beauty because this is the highest form of praise possible? It is ironic that it was other qualities that allowed her to play her part in history, that her choice to focus on these manipulations allowed her to be viewed as beautiful- and also that the personal qualities she possessed are those that have been dismissed as “unattractive” in women in most cultures.

It is her story that remains alluring and we try to imagine the enthralling and mysterious woman who played her part in it. Willed as joint ruler of Egypt with her 12-year old brother Ptolemy XIII who she married at age 17 after the death of their father, she was quickly deposed because of her wilful ways, and her young brother left as a puppet king. She schemed a way to regain her empire, having herself wrapped in a blanket to be delivered as a present to Julius Caesar. When he unwrapped it, the 54-year old general found 22 year old Cleopatra inside, and the two became lovers. And after Caesar’s army defeated the Egyptian army, they remained lovers, but Cleopatra married another brother, Ptolemy XIV. Caesar and Cleopatra also married, and Cleopatra went to Rome with Caesar, with their hopes being that they could unite the two countries. After Caesar was murdered, Cleopatra returned to Egypt with their son, and continued to rule with her brother.

Friday, March 19, 2010


The Japanese female beauty ideal exemplified by the traditional Geisha look can be seen in many modern adaptations today. The ideal relates to both a physical look and qualities of personality. The look which is strived for is that of clear small features, smooth and even light skin and dark shiny healthy hair. In the geisha, this is seen in an extremely exaggerated sense, with a thick layer of white makeup leading to an unnatural painted look with striking red lips and dark eyes among the white oval face. The hair is set in elaborate designs above the head, and the outfits are expensive and delicate. The focus on style, exclusivity and detail in Japanese fashion is still evident, with women valuing visible expense in their looks and with brand names holding great cache. The idealized physical features are still that of light skin and long healthy hair, and small features in an oval face.
Smoothness and evenness of skin is emphasized in Japanese beauty and traditional formulas such as nightingale droppings for shiny skin, as well as mud, seaweed and rice bran were used. In the present day, beauticians and day spas are skill popular and a wide array of beauty care products are sold, with natural and traditional ingredients being valued. As well as being physically immaculate the geisha is also supposed to be an entertainer, whose talents range from the musical to various games, and to be a great conversationalist. To this day the coquettish submissive entertainer woman is a recognizable social role, and a similar industry of beautiful young women whose conversation is the only entertainment sold is visible in the hostessing industry.