Who cares what she DID, take a gander at how she might have LOOKED; *hottie alert*

Okay.  What.  The. Frick?  After reading a very thoughtful piece done by Sweet Machine over at Shapely Prose, I found this little nugget of an article on Yahoo’s main “Featured News” page: “Fresh Look at Martha Washington: Less First Frump, More Foxy Lady“.  That’s right.  And in case you’re leery of where the article might go or have some foolish hope that maybe the title is just a clever play on words, let me put your mind at “ease” with a direct quote of the first paragraph:

This just in: Martha Washington was hot. Or at least hotter than we thought.

Yup.  Now it isn’t enough to glamorize or fetishize or paparrazi-ize over the 5 pounds Jessica Simpson might have gained by not being a slave to an image standard.  Now we get to use “Technology” like age regression software to reassure America that our first First Lady wasn’t some “First Frump” as the article so lovingly refers to the images we’re used to seeing of Martha Washington; she was a smexy hottie!  I mean yeah she did all this STUFF too (She capably ran the five plantations left to her when her first husband died, bargaining with London merchants for the best tobacco prices.), but she wasn’t like FAT y’all and she was a human being with needs and stuff and liked to read silly fluff books and like… like…um….maybe she was really hot too!

Okay.  Come ON!  Now, from someone who hated the structure of almost every boring, mindless fact-regurgitating history class I every had the misfortune to get dragged through, I can certainly see the appeal in trying to make history interesting (gee, maybe less focus on memorizing dates and more focus on real people and passions and actions might affect that a tad, but what do I know).  What I don’t understand is this need to re-vamp the world’s image of this amazing woman, degrading her from the perhaps plump and amazing First Lady of America’s new system of presidency, to a “Va-va-vooom” 20-something who was “blessed” with more than George for suitors; one of whom seemed to indicate through their correspondences that he was sexually attracted to her!  Ya know cause us humans just can’t fathom ANY man, let alone a leader of a foundling country, being sexually attracted to a plump, dowdy old woman, the ” mousy, fat, rich widow that dashing and virile Washington married only for money.”

Perhaps the most head-shakingly crazy-making part (aside from the whole obsession with some purple wedding shoes) is the image that this article is trying to break out of our mindset.  THIS is what the renditions of a smoking hottie Martha are up against:

“Martha Washington was neither beautiful nor brilliant. She lacked artistic skill, except perhaps in fine needlework. The letters she wrote were an incoherent jumble of affection and gossip.” That was James Flexner, the preeminent Washington scholar of the 1960s and ’70s. He describes Washington’s marriage to Martha as an “escape” from the burden of his passions for Sally. The 40-year union, he wrote, “began badly.” Martha, he wrote disdainfully, was “diminutive and plump.”

That sets off revisionist historians such as Brady. Although it is true that Martha had borne four children by the time she met Washington, only two of whom survived, she hadn’t packed on the pounds yet.

Yeah.  Because, again, it is completely impossible to believe that even HAD she already come into the marriage with those pounds “packed on”; that any other human being, especially one with so much power, would like her, be attracted to her, love her.

I can’t decide what makes me sadder and just more confunded.  The reflection that this sort of drivel has upon our obsession with youth (we can’t be satisfied with having an old matronly First Lady, sh emust be YOUNG! BEAUTIFUL!), the clear and almost frantic attempts to assure us that she was trim and slim and not *gasp* 200 pounds (no one wants a fattie in the white house!) or the back-peddling done to convince readers that not only was/is history interesting and fun, but it is filled with SEXY LADIES TOO!

Though, perhaps it was a tad encouraging to read some of those comments because it is from them that I drew this gem, with which I’ll leave you and your thoughts:

This is an elitist attempt at commercialization of American history. A “hey look, Martha Washington was a size 4, attractive and wore silk sequined shoes!” Let the real history of the era speak for itself and let’s not try to market and reframe every aspect of American history for the sake of tourism.


7 thoughts on “Who cares what she DID, take a gander at how she might have LOOKED; *hottie alert*

  1. Maybe you folks will disagree, but I feel that this attempt to try to sexualize Martha Washington is more about trying to tell modern women that “if you think it’s okay to look like a NORMAL WOMAN, because Martha Washington did… think again! she was HOTTTTTTT!”

    God forbid a successful, smart and celebrated woman doesn’t look like a celebutant! Then women might stop starving themselves and focus on things that are really important… like education, current affairs and real health as opposed to health = boney skinny.

    Or maybe these doofs are just trying to market history to people who otherwise wouldn’t have anything to do with it, because it’s not sexy enough. Whatev… either way… it’s totally lame.

    Thanks for posting this!!

  2. I know you touched on this, but I have to say when I read the article, I thought that it was really sad that these historians were really pushing that he loved her, after they established that she was attractive when she was young. Now that we know she was hot and dainty when she was young, oh yeah hey he probably loved her. I guess this is easier to believe now, because who would love a fat old woman. *sigh*

  3. Pingback: GRRRRRR… « Angry Gray Rainbows

  4. The saddest part of this is that they’re framing MW as a better person because she was apparently beautiful. *This* is what we should shout for the mountaintops, all. *This* is what we should study and write articles about, all.

  5. Angrygrayrainbows I have to agree with you. Not only is the focus on “wow, okay so history in America “started” with a beautiful woman so no WONDER that powerful first pres wanted to get together with her” but also, so yeah, don’t think you can be all powerful if you aren’t also hot ladies, cause damn we’ve just found out that even those frumpy ladies were FIIIINE! It’s degrading and very frustrating. Martha was an amazing woman. Who CARES what she looked like? So what if she was green skinned with yellow polka dots and huge horizontal stripes in pink? She did amazing things, was part of a huge part of US history and yet all we can find to interest folks in is a pair of shoes and her non-frumpiness? gah.

  6. This reminds me of a comment I saw in response to a post on feminism and fat acceptance (surprise). I can’t remember much else about the same-old, same-old argument against fatness being just wrong, but she or he wrapped it up by stating that no one has ever elected a fat president and never will, so there, nyah.

    I came late to the post and was baffled that no one else seemed to remember President William Howard Taft, who weighed around 300 pounds, and was a half-decent president when Republicans still did that. Granted, he wasn’t re-elected for a second term, but he did become Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.

    So there. Nyah.

  7. Spoonfork, I would also note that by the time he got to the White House as Vice President (let alone President) John Adams was somewhat portly himself…not to mention pretty damn short.

    This article makes me want to go after someone with a well-placed virtual pitchfork to the trouser seat.

    Martha Washington was a tremendously able woman who was also noted for her affability, graciousness, and generosity to others. Perhaps she was not the scholar that, say, Abigail Adams was, but she was a hell of a woman. Oh, and while George was smart he was noted as a hideously bad speller…in a time when a lot of spelling wasn’t standardized. Then again, I suppose that’s okay because he was very tall and looked dashing in his uniform.

    I’m sure that George Washington took his wife’s land and property into account when he began courting her. He did often have an eye to his own social status. I’m equally certain that he wouldn’t have married her without genuine affection and attraction. If nothing else, there were other attractive widows with property, some of whom (unlike Martha) were younger than he was.

    Yay for flesh-and-bloodizing historical figures. Boo for trying to make them over into Papparazzi-ready commodities.

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