Posted by Jessamyn on July 08, 1997 at 01:06:25:
In reply to Re: Lydia so tanned! posted by Lynne on July 07, 1997 at 21:59:34
] ] ] ] I was wondering in P&P2 when it's summer, Lydia is actually very tanned. Wasn't it considered unbecoming etc. in those days?
] ] P&P2 also had a shocking lack of parasols. The only one I remember was held over the head of Anne deBurgh by Mrs. Jenkinson. I thought that ladies used parasols frequently, to keep the sun from making them a little tanned when traveling in the summer.
] In S&S, Marianne's skin is described as "very brown", in fact the exact words read like this: "Her skin was very brown, but, from its transparency, her complexion was uncommonly brilliant...." I wondered about that, too----as I thought the desired and fashionable complexion during the Regency would have been more like the peaches and cream look of Kate Winslet, who played Marianne in S&S. In fact, the first time I read the book, I pictured Marianne with dark hair, with complexion to match (the book says her eyes were also very dark)---not anything like Ms. Winslet. I suppose what was considered "very brown" in those times----would have meant someone just had more color in their face. Our definition means someone has a dark tan or dark complexion---the Regency definition may have been someone was a shade or two darker than the prescribed shade of apple blossom for the skin of English ladies. Strange---how fads like this come and go... Perhaps complexion didn't matter so much if a person had great features, good teeth, etc. But if their features were not so handsome----it was perhaps more important to attain a more fashionable complexion. Or maybe this obsession with keeping one's skin very white didn't really hit hard until the Victorians.....
They do have a shocking lack of parasols, and really their hats, while very becoming, tend to have very small brims which don't protect the face. There is also an unconvincing lack of gloves; I think lily-white hands were almost more important than unsullied cheeks.
But on the other hand, it is true that the Victorians took everything to extremes. And a lot of that was probably because the rising middle class was trying to figure out what the upper classes had so they could have it too. Victorian middle-class women spent tremendous money, time, and energy trying to look like they never did anything, including set foot outside. You don't catch Victorian women going for the long, unaccompanied walks that Austen characters are always taking, certainly! They extended this overfastidiousness to morality, too, so that while Austen could introduce a perfectly respectable character who was someone's "natural daughter" (bastard), a Victorian writer wouldn't. (This is another Emma reference, by the way.)
What this all boils down to is that certainly before and largely throughout the Regency, the upper classes were more flexible because they didn't have anything to prove.
Sorry, didn't mean to write an essay!
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