Before I begin, I’d just like to say that this is intended to be a nice, light-hearted post and that I certainly appreciate the many opportunities available to me as a modern woman. I wholeheartedly support feminism as a movement advocating gender equality. I’m also open to rounding up the world’s men and forcing them to spend their days bringing us coffee, giving us foot massages and writing sonnets that celebrate the many virtues of the fair sex.
Don’t worry, that last bit was only a half true. I would also be prepared to accept haikus or acrostic poems from the less-artistically inclined ones. Iambic pentameter can be a bitch.
In all seriousness, I’m very grateful to those who went before me. Who have made it possible for me to vote, to have a career, to be independent and make my own choices. But I won’t deny it – I sometimes daydream about what life would be like if I lived in a different time.
Perks of living in the past
1. Vintage beauty
I don’t think I belong in a time that celebrates thin, tanned people. Along with many women, I feel pressured to meet society’s expectations by seeking the ‘perfect body.’ However, I am not a naturally skinny person. I am not the girl who can eat fast food five days a week and miraculously maintain a flat stomach. Being slender is very hard work and ultimately, the occasional slab chocolate cake is much more fun. I have generous natural curves which give me an hour-glass figure. I have thick, curly, auburn hair and very fair skin that will not tan. Even a light fake tan looks silly on me. So bring on the parasols baby, I think I retro man might appreciate me!
2. Vintage fashion
Freedom of expression and freedom of movement is lovely but personally, I’m a sucker for gorgeous, feminine clothes. I’m also a firm believer in leaving a little to the imagination. The ‘she was asking for it because she dresses like a slut’ excuse is completely pathetic but I do think that the way we dress sends a clear message about how we expect to be treated. Class and self-respect is sexy.
In terms of fashion itself, I love wearing clothes that flatter my natural shape. Some fashion seasons are better than others but ultimately big names seem to market clothes designed for coat-hangers to the general population. Models are gorgeous in their own right but they represent a minority, an ideal body that is shrinking by the minute and a look that is unhealthy and unattainable for many women.
3. Vintage men
I think a lot of women like the idea of being taken care of, even if that impulse sits in the deepest, darkest corner of their brains. There’s something sexy about a tall, strong man who sweeps you off your feet and protects you. Most women don’t expect or even want those fantasies to be a reality. But chivalry can still go a long way.
Men and women should be equals. But I don’t think it would hurt us to acknowledge that men women and are different and I don’t think being aware of those differences equates to sexism. In light of male physicality and their role in a heterosexual relationship, nice manners and a little respect can be kind of sweet.
4. Vintage relationships
Sure we’ve been freed from the shackles of convention but these days relationships can get pretty confusing. Sometimes I think it would be much easier if we still had some fixed etiquette to navigate them. And I’m not just talking about romantic relationships. Even greeting a friend can be confusing- do we hug, do we shake hands, is a peck on the cheek in order? These days we just make it up as we go along. I mean, come on! Is it too much to ask that people might reply to messages promptly and RSVP more than 30 minutes in advance?
Of course romances would also be much easier as well. You go to a ball and all the eligible bachelors are lined up. You take your pick, you get introduced, you dance the night away and live happily ever after. Easy. You would always know when someone is interested because they would be following a set pattern of courtship. I bet Lizzie and Mr Darcy never had to discuss whether or not they were being exclusive. Yes, yes, I am aware of the undesirable elements of an arranged marriage. But at least becoming the neighbourhood cat lady and dying alone might be off the cards.