Posts Tagged: ‘history’

If I had a dollar for every time I’ve seen a social media comment along the lines of “why are Halloween costumes for women so sexy??!” I’d have enough money to march over to my neighborhood Halloween superstore and buy a sexy French fries costume. For young women these days, the process of choosing a Halloween costume usually starts with the question of “to sexy, or not to sexy?” (or in my mind, “to be warm, or not to be warm on a chilly October night?”)…

Tags: , , , , , ,

Before men started wearing the crotch-covering legging we call trousers, everybody wore skirts in one form or fashion (see also: loincloths, tunics, togas, kilts, etc.). And why not? Skirts are far simpler to construct and facilitate more cooling air flow to the nether regions, which would’ve been a godsend in the pre-air conditioning days. But then, thanks to the rise of horseback infantries, trousers (see also: breeches, codpieces, tights, etc.) became the below-the-belt manly uniform of the masculine masses.

Western women, meanwhile, continued wearing skirts, and not just simple wrap-around numbers. We’re talking multi-layered, heavy, floor-length ensembles often further supported and puffed out with the assistance of cage crinoline, petticoats, bustles, or other clunky foundation garments, depending on the era (see also: corsets).

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

Although De Beers has been trying to convince us that “diamonds are forever” since 1947 when copy writer Frances Gerety coined the iconic slogan, the gemstones’ popularity traces back around 600 years. Up until the mid-1400s, diamonds not only were rare, coming exclusively from India, but cut diamonds also were often sanctioned only for kings and religious iconography. Some royal edicts even forbade non-royals, especially women, from wearing them. But by the mid-1400s, wealthy women would accessorize with diamond jewelry, a trend commonly attributed to Agnes Sorel, mistress of French King Charles VII (see: Joan of Arc) who was also known as Dame de Beauté, or Lady of Beauty.

Tags: , , , , , ,

On May 18, 1970, Jack Baker and Michael McConnell walked into the Hennepin County courthouse in Minneapolis, Minnesota, intending to obtain a marriage license. A veteran of the U.S. Air Force, Baker already had been fired from an air force base for being openly gay, but the rampant anti-LGBT discrimination and harassment of the era didn’t hold him back from attempting to marry his partner. The license was denied, and a Hennepin County judge upheld the decision with a nod to the Bible: “The institution of marriage as a union of man and woman, uniquely involving the procreation and rearing of children within a family, is as old as the Book of Genesis.”

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Barry Manilow’s 1978 smash hit “Copacabana” tells the story of:

Lola, she was a showgirl
With yellow feathers in her hair and a dress cut down to there

Girlfriend of bartender Tony at the Copacabana, Lola was a character thought up by Manilow, although he could’ve certainly found lyrical inspiration in the stranger-than-fiction biography of Lola Montez, who was also a showgirl of sorts.

Tags: , , , , ,

The Western world is pretty much freaking out over the state of Duchess of Cambridge Kate Middleton’s uterus. Reuters reports that royal baby fever already has netted the UK $380 million, thanks to sales of souvenirs and collectibles, tourism and party supplies for fake royal baby showers. There’s even a Royal Baby App that promises user up-to-the-minute updates on the royal baby’s crowning (kidding — but it will send out alerts when the tiny he or she arrives), as well as photo opps of “first steps, public appearances, royal visits.” Really, it seems like there hasn’t been this level of public hubbub surrounding a royal birth since way back when in 1688…

Tags: , , , , , ,

In 1855, PT Barnum organized America’s first modern beauty pageant, which sought to crown “the handsomest ladies” of the time. Actually, an unmarried winner would receive a dowry in exchange for her lovely looks, and married gals would get diamond tiara (to wear around the home?). The language Barnum stuck out to me because it’s such a contrast to how we might, say, describe the newly minted Miss USA. In Barnum’s days, though,that “handsomest” descriptor had developed a striking specificity. In an excellent etymological exploration of “handsome” at The Beheld, Autumn Whitefield-Madrano reveals how:

Tags: , , , , ,

And while Gatsby on screen might be a sumptuous Vogue-ready feast for the eyes, it skips right over the cultural significance of the flapper who openly defied the rules for how young women should conduct themselves. Sure, they dressed differently, smoked, danced and drank, but flappers also were turn-of-the-century feminists.

So if you’re reading (or re-reading) “The Great Gatsby” or going to see the movie spectacle, here’s some recommended reading to understand who the real Daisy Buchanan and her drop-waist dress-sporting gal pals might’ve been:

Tags: , , , , , , ,

In wondering when and why such a random stereotype arose, I had figured it had plenty to do with Marilyn Monroe’s 1953 performance in “Gentlemen Prefer Blondes” in which she plays the preferable blonde (which is kind of funny when you consider that Norma Jean Mortenson was a brunette when she first headed out in Hollywood). It turns out, however, that the original dumb blonde — the ODB, if you will — came around a couple centuries prior…

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Sure, you sprinkle nutmeg indifferently on your eggnog, but do you know its bloody history and psychotropic properties?

In this episode of Stuff to Blow Your Mind, Julie and I discuss the weird, mind-bending, sickening and depressing side of an everyday spice. We’ll explain just why you should use it sparingly, but often.

Tags: , , , ,

Recent Postings by Category