I, and another female interpreter, had the pleasure of speaking with a small group of fourteen and fifteen year old female visitors last week. That age group can be somewhat difficult to make a connection with, as they are not generally interested in speaking with anyone over the age of eighteen. But after some basic small talk we began to have a great dialog about life as a colonial woman. Marriage, children, women’s roles and most importantly, clothes. Then the girl closest to me looked over and said, “Wow, they (meaning the colonist women) were so pretty without makeup.”
Now, this comment broke my heart. It was the way she said this, so longingly, as if she could never achieve a sort of plain beauty. Sadly, these girls were beautiful and I truly desired to take of the mask of my character and tell then no was forcing them to wear the masks of medis hyped products. I answered her comment by saying that there were women in the 17th century who wore makeup, chiefly in high society and at court. We had a good laugh at “those sorts” of women and the things they were required to be for others. My hope is that as she leftthe conversation feeling as though she did not have to wear a mask if she did not wish and she was just as beautiful as any colonist woman without her makeup.
This is not a rare comment/question and many women of all ages have inquired of the colonist women’s “beauty routines.” Most just to marvel at the healthfulness and simple beauty that the women here impart. If you were to follow a colonist woman’s beauty routine I would suggest… Wake up early, wash hands and face in cold spring water, tie back your hair from your face that you have only washed once this week, don’t look in a mirror, put your hat on when you go outdoors, and spend the day smiling.
Rebecca Gross (Fear Allerton)
Apprentice Colonial Interpreter