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Not-so-tender trap Options
onsen
Posted: Thursday, November 30, 2017 8:36:51 AM
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Hello,

Not-so-tender trap

In 1770 a Bill was introduced into Parliament denouncing women who seduce men into marriage by the use of scents, paints, cosmetic washes, artificial teeth, false hair, iron stays, hoops, high-heeled shoes and bolstered hips. If a woman were convicted of thus ensnaring a husband, the marriage could be declared null and void.
The Bill never did become law, fortunately for the institution of matrimony - for there never can have been a wife who did not resort to one or other of the 'crimes' listed!
(from The Daily Mirror, Old Codgers)

Please give a concrete explanation for the 'crimes' listed.

Thank you
Lotje1000
Posted: Thursday, November 30, 2017 8:54:16 AM

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onsen wrote:
Hello,

Not-so-tender trap

In 1770 a Bill was introduced into Parliament denouncing women who seduce men into marriage by the use of scents, paints, cosmetic washes, artificial teeth, false hair, iron stays, hoops, high-heeled shoes and bolstered hips. If a woman were convicted of thus ensnaring a husband, the marriage could be declared null and void.
The Bill never did become law, fortunately for the institution of matrimony - for there never can have been a wife who did not resort to one or other of the 'crimes' listed!
(from The Daily Mirror, Old Codgers)

Please give a concrete explanation for the 'crimes' listed.

Thank you


The 'crimes' are quoted above, they're about using "scents, paints, cosmetic washes, artificial teeth, false hair, iron stays, hoops, high-heeled shoes and bolstered hips" with the purpose of seducing a man. Concretely, it's about women using tools to help them achieve a standard of beauty they can't reach naturally, and thus "misguiding" men into believing the women are pretty enough to be married.
NKM
Posted: Thursday, November 30, 2017 9:49:42 AM

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The supposed "crimes" are, as Lotje says, the various enticements that women might use to attract suitors.

That's why the word was placed within quotation marks, to indicate that its meaning was not according to its normal definition.

Parpar1836
Posted: Thursday, November 30, 2017 2:53:45 PM
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Location: Rochester, New York, United States
The use of cosmetics to enhance the texture and color women's skin is a fairly old expedient. Problem is, some of the cosmetics had lead and other toxic substances in them, and people weren't aware of this.

Back in those days, it was very common for children, teens, and adults to have smallpox. This left its victims with mild, moderately, or severely pitted faces. Most portraits of people living in those days (e. g., Mozart) who survived smallpox omit the pitting and scars, but a few portraits have come down to us (including sculptures) showing the disfiguration of the pitting. See https://www.geni.com/projects/People-who-survived-Smallpox/28283. For an unsparing sculptural example, see http://www.hypochondriacheaven.com/images/smallpox%20scars.jpg (also in the previous URL). Women were likewise affected by smallpox, and did what they could to conceal the disfiguration. Bad scarring could jeopardize one's marriage prospects, I'm sure.

As for artificial teeth, dentistry was an extremely primitive art in those days. I don't think that people knew about dental floss. By the time Napoléon rose to power, there were toothbrushes, because I know that he had one in his elaborate traveling kit, but let's just say that people's dental health, overall, was pretty bad. Much worse than we'd stand for nowadays. Think of poor George Washington and his ill-fitting, uncomfortable ivory dentures. And poor Joséphine and her bad teeth.

Scents (perfumes, etc.) were in widespread use to mask foul smells and unwashed bodies; there was considerable and longstanding social prejudice against bathing. A few well-known people (e.g., Charles II's mistress and friend Nell Gwyn) maintained a high level of cleanliness. Most people didn't.

False hair was used during the Elizabethan era, especially for older women. After stiffly starched ruffs went out of fashion, "falling bands" became fashionable, which meant that men grew their hair long—the fashion we associate with Charles II. But as he grew older, his hair grayed and thinned out . . . and he and other men found it easier to crop their natural hair and wear wigs, which presented a more impressive illusion of thick, healthy, tumbling, curly locks, even if they were made of horsehair. Men's wigs became an essential part of their wardrobes—that's a subject in itself. Women, of course, wore wigs to appear younger and prettier. Wigs were especially useful if a woman lost her hair from illness or had an accident. Whether they were really and truly "deceivers" (looked completely natural), I can't say.

Iron stays refers to iron-boned corsets . . . the old-fashioned ones (from below the armpits to below the waist) were an essential item of a woman's wardrobe, to give her the fashionable high-bosomed, slim-waisted look. Middle-class and upper-class women had their stays laced up in the back, a task done by a lady's maid. Lower-class/working women wore stays they could lace up themselves.

Hoops went in and out of fashion, and took various forms, including panniers ("baskets") that extended the hips from side to side, and were worn on formal occasions and at court. (Court dress is a whole subject in itself.) Court hoops were finally banned by George IV long after they'd gone out of fashion.

High-heeled shoes were worn during the 17th and 18th centuries. As I understand it, King Louis XIV was not a physically imposing specimen of masculinity (as Charles II was; he was unusually tall for his time, and cut an impressive figure). Louis was a rather stumpy man with a receding chin, prominent nose, and cold eyes. But he had fine-looking legs, so he emphasized them, and wore chunky red heels to give himself a bit more height. Those, and his towering full-bottomed wig, gave him a more regal appearance. Men and women adopted French fashions, and high heels have been with us ever since.

Bolstered hips: the Elizabethans popularized the "bum-roll," a sausage-shaped pad worn around the waist to distend the skirts of the gown and make the waist look smaller. Wealthy and aristocratic women who were dressed by their servants could afford elaborate frameworks (borrowed from the extremely rigid Spanish fashions), but less pretentious women made do with little rolls or pads worn under the dress. French women devised a charming fashion called the "caraco," with a sort of mini-bustle at the rear of the hip-length jackets they wore over their skirts. It sounds ugly in description, I know.

Satiric artists such as Hogarth, Gillray, and Rowlandson had a great time mocking the "fashion victims" of their times. I recall seeing the satiric forerunner of a comic strip showing a bald, toothless, sagging, obviously elderly woman ("crone" or "hag") donning these various "enhancements" and, frame by frame, changing her appearance to that of a voluptuous young woman. The kind of woman who deceived her youthful suitor into thinking he was getting more than he actually was.

That is what the bill was about . . . the use of various artificial aids and disguises to improve a woman's appearance, or to conceal it completely. A call for truth in packaging, in other words.

Romany
Posted: Thursday, November 30, 2017 4:43:48 PM
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The irony of the this, from the modern perspective, is that no such proscriptions were ever mooted to be put upon men.This really *did* lead to damning consequence.

Because of this, though the most caricatured man of the age, not one single image of George IV as he really was, exists: though corseted, powdered, be-wigged,and uphostered for portraits, it was not enough! Every image of him had to be of person who simply didn't exist!

Parpar1836
Posted: Thursday, November 30, 2017 4:53:16 PM
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Joined: 6/30/2014
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Location: Rochester, New York, United States
Right you are. The image of George IV that has come down to us (barring a savage caricature or two . . . Gillray's "A Voluptuary under the Horrors of Digestion," vintage 1792, may be one of the more honest depictions, and that was well before he became King) is of a plumpish but handsome, dashing character in his ceremonial robes or riding kit . . . very much the English gentleman, with neatly-cropped, curling, dark (unpowdered) hair . . . Beau Brummell's apt pupil.
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