The Ancient Egyptian Female Ideal

I’ve always been particularly fascinated by the portrayal of women in Ancient Egypt. Every single Egyptian woman illustrated in tombs or statues is always extremely slim and slender, youthful, and with a beautiful full black wig. This tomb-relief showing Djehutyhotep’s sister is no different. It’s very likely that not all women were truly like this, and that this portrayal is simply an Ancient Egyptian female ideal – but why? The Ancient Egyptians had many different gods and goddesses. The most prevalent Egyptian goddess was Isis. Isis herself was always shown as slim and youthful. She was...

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Girl Guiding: A Brief History (Part One)

The 22nd February 2017 saw girls of all ages celebrate World Thinking Day as part of the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts (WAGGGS). It is the one day of the year where Girl Guide and Girl Scouts all over the world think of others. We hold dear our international friendships and speak out on the different issues that affect girls and young women across the globe. There is usually a meeting dedicated to celebrating World Thinking Day in every pack or troop, and this got me thinking about how much I really knew about the organisation I have been part of since I was ten years old....

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Valentine’s day – just for girls?

I love Valentine’s Day. Not because I am particularly romantic, or like grand gestures of love or being showered with gifts. I love it because it’s a holiday that promotes happiness. It’s a day that encourages positive actions and emotions – what could possibly be wrong with that? The day before Valentine’s Day I received a text message from a friend announcing ‘Happy Galentine’s Day’ – something I have never come across before – and although I appreciated the sentiment it did get me wondering why there should be a separate day for Gals and their Galfriends? Love is love after all. Why...

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Famous Courtesans: Jane Shore

  Jane Shore (c.1445 – c.1527) was the mistress of Edward IV during the last decade of his life. She was born in London as a part of the merchant class, the daughter of John and Amy Lambert. Her father was a successful business man, and Jane spent many days in her father shop, coming into contact with many upper class ladies. While she was very beautiful, she was also very intelligent and her father ensured she was well educated, a rarity for women of her class. Her great beauty attracted many admirers including those in the King’s circle, such as William Hastings. This level of...

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Famous Courtesans: Veronica Franco

Veronica Franco (1546-1591) was a poet and courtesan in sixteenth century Venice. There were two types of courtesans during this period: the upper class, intellectual cortigiana onesta, and cortigiana di lume, the lower class courtesans. Veronica was one the most successful and popular cortigiana onesta courtesans of her time. Her mother, Paola Fracassa, was also a cortigiana onesta who brought Veronica up to be well educated, and to use her natural assets to ensure she got a good marriage. In her teens she married the wealthy physician, Paolo Panizza, but the couple separated shortly after....

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Seondeok of Silla

A while back, I had an amazing trip to South Korea. Whilst there, I became interested in Korean history and culture, and learnt about the amazing Queen Seondeok of the Silla Empire. The Silla Empire was one of three kingdoms that ruled in the South Korean peninsula for around 900 years. It was established in 57CE and covered most of the eastern and southern areas of the peninsula until it was taken over in 936CE. Queen Seondeok ruled from the year 632 until her death in the year 647. She was the first of three female rulers of the Silla Empire, and only the second female ruler of any culture...

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High-Heeled Shoes: a weakness or empowering?

The high-heeled shoe has been around for longer than you might think. There is evidence that depicts both the Egyptians and Romans wearing heels for various practical reasons. Nor were they restricted to one gender; both upper-class men and women wore them. The high heel remained a practical piece of clothing in the middle ages as they kept you out of the mud when walking. Fast forward slightly, and we see men wearing heels to emphasis their class, privilege, and power within society before the high heel became a feminine icon from the 1500s onwards. Women started wearing high heels for much...

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Famous Courtesans: Madame du Barry

Madame du Barry, or Jeanne Becu (19 August 1743 – 8 December 1793), was the last chief mistress (or maitresse-en-titre) of Louis XV of France. At the high point of her career she was one of the most influential women in France. Although her origins do not reflect this, as the illegitimate daughter of a seamstress she came from a fairly lowborn family. Her predecessor, Marquise de Pompadour, had set a precedent for girls who weren’t a part of the French nobility becoming the maitress-en-titre, although Jeanne had further to climb than de Pompadour. In her youth she had a variety of...

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Mythological Girls: Lady of Linshui

The ‘Lady of Linshui’ was born as the Shaman Chen Jinggu in either 766 or 904 CE, depending on the source. The 8th century date seems much more realistic as temples were said to have been erected in the late 700s in her honour. Her popularity led to her being declared the deity ‘Lady of Linshui’ in the 13th century. Prior to her conception, the goddess Guanyin was said to have appeared to the people of a district near Quanzhou after pleas had been sent to her to build a bridge over a dangerous river. She told the crowd that she would marry anyone who could throw a coin that reached her,...

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Famous Courtesans: Harriette Wilson

Harriette Wilson (22 February 1786 – 10 March 1845) was a Regency courtesan. She had many high profile clients including the Prince of Wales; Arthur Wellsley, 1st Duke of Wellington; Lord Melbourne’s son the honourable Frederick Lamb; and the Duke of Argyll. While she was a beautiful woman, part of her charm was her intelligence and wit. She played the perfect balance of feigning disinterest while also keeping the interest of the man. The high class men of the day were used to ladies of polite society and enjoyed the wit and interesting conversation she provided. Her three sisters were...

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