My So-Called Pilgrim Life

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A chronicle of daily life in the 1627 English village at Plimoth Plantation from both a modern and historical perspective.

The Masks We Wear…

May 12th, 2009 by admin

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

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3 Responses to “The Masks We Wear…”

  1. lev olson says:

    i told buddy (uh, i mean standish) this today, but i was so impressed by this. i often hear alot of things said there (more in years past, when i did not know as many people there) and i often wondered if it was acting or honesty… i am glad to hear these things expressed as honest opinions. often the views of the 17th century (separatist or no) are seen as quaint and outdated. what they had that our society lacks is a basic humanity that does not need to be buried … wysiwyg…

  2. KMWall says:

    It’s always interesting to me that without makeup or hair-dos, not to mention “fashion” that I could claim to be 35 or 55 in the course of the same day, and no one would blink twice. There are simply no markers for the modern eye to figure it out. I sometimes wonder what it would be like to live in a world without a clear view of your own appearance. Where the clothes that you wear tell the world what you do and what your place in that word is; where how you are perceived is in the all in the eye of the beholder, where looking glass sometimes means a chamberpot (which make MUCH more sense if you’ve seen a pewter one!).

  3. Golf Cart Steve says:

    nice job with relating to the kids. It’s so rare that “peer pressured teens” ever see outside their circles.

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