We are ten sleeps away from Christmas day now and I really have to finish doing all my outdoor things so I can concentrate on hibernating. It is indeed the season for love, and we really should spare a wodge of that love for ourselves as we all need to be looked after. With that in mind, I hope today's post provides some inspiration...
|Vanity (1890) Auguste Toulmouche|
I promised you more Toulmouche and so here we are again, with a young lady who isn't afraid to show a little self-love. She's a cracking looking girl so I'm not surprised she has no problem kissing her reflection. If anyone deserves your love and attention right now, I bet it's you. You've had a right pig of a year and yet you've come through it vaguely sane and pretty much intact so well done, you are made of aces and should be rightfully joyous about yourself!
|A Kiss in the Glass (c.1885) Antoine Magaud|
Of course, sadly, that's not what these paintings are about. According to Victorian art, we womenfolk are tricksy, narcissistic creatures, too busy falling in love with our own reflections like demented budgies, to have proper thoughts. No wonder they don't let us have a vote. Who's a pretty girl then?
|A Kiss for the Mirror (1920) Pietro Torrini|
It's not just our unstoppable vanity that is being spoken of in these images. Rater more unsettling, the preponderance of mirror-kissing paintings from the turn of the century could be seen as a commentary on the war of the sexes from this time. Women's attempt to gain the vote was perceived by some as an attack on men - for goodness sake, human rights are not cake, giving some to women does not mean there is less for men - and therefore women chose not to kiss men but to kiss themselves. The selfish hussies!
|Practice Kiss (Woman before a Mirror in her Boudoir) (c.1880) Luma Von Flesch Brunningen|
The mirror-snoggers also reveal the secrets of the utter unstoppable carnality of women. Given half a chance, we whip our bonnets off and are kissing the mirror with our frocks hanging off. Really, it's a terrible affliction. This was me last Thursday after getting home from Lidls...
|Brunette at the Mirror (1906) Henri Caro-Delvaille|
There is a fascinating bit in one of my favourite books, Idols of Perversity by Bram Dijkstra, that quotes Rossetti in his poem The House of Life where he states that the proper mirror for women is the eyes of her husband. Any other mirror, that of another man's eyes or a glass, would freeze her and kill all desire.
|Lady Lilith (1867) Dante Gabriel Rossetti|
A woman with a mirror is engaged in an act of self-destruction, in that case. The removing of men from the equation of evaluating the beauty of women, women are just becoming echo chambers, living for themselves, appreciating their own looks and abilities without competition or depreciation. My goodness, no wonder, Lilith, the Biblical villainess has two mirrors! What a terrible example she is to us ladies! By their self-appreciation these women are cutting the men out of the equation, but are they? These paintings are made by men for (presumably) male viewers, so these women, trying to escape male view, are trapped between eyes and glass, with the side they turn to hide, reflected back to their viewer by the traitorous mirror.
|All is Vanity (1892) Charles Allen Gilbert|
Spend any time as a woman on social media and you will be left in absolutely no doubt who your face is there for. Even a ruined old baggage like myself, at 47, routinely gets messages on Twitter and Instagram telling me that I should be very, very grateful for their appreciation of my appearance and should I not express the desired amount of delight ('Oh, La! Such flattery! My heart is all a quiver!') then I am told that I am unpleasant and should be thankful that anyone gives me the time of day. Well, quite, but I'm too busy in front of my mirror in wonderment at how magnificent I am, thank you!
Give yourselves a great big kiss from me today and I'll see you all tomorrow...