Today, I am so excited to be welcoming Madina Papadopoulos, author of The Step-Spinsters (which you should most definitely read!), to the blog with a guest post!! Please give Madina a warm welcome!! I hope you'll enjoy reading her guest post The Eye of the Beholder as much as I did!!
About the Author
Madina Papadopoulos is a New Orleans–born, New York–based freelance writer and author. She studied French and Italian at Tulane University and went on to pursue her MFA in Screenwriting at UCLA. After graduating, she taught French and Italian to children in early childhood and elementary school programs. Her nonfiction freelance writing focuses on food, drink, and entertainment. She will probably be friends with you if you have a dog. If you’d like to keep tabs on The Step-Spinsters, you can find them on Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook.
You can haunt Madina at
Website | Instagram | @madinapaola | Amazon | Goodreads
The Eye of the Beholder By Madina Papadopoulos-
When I began writing The Step-Spinsters, I didn’t have many developed ideas beyond focusing on the characters of Cinderella’s ‘ugly’ stepsisters, Fredegonde and Javotte. I also knew that I wanted to base the story in a real and historical setting, rather than a fantastical, fairytale world. If I was going to flesh out who these two characters were, their daily life was also going to have to be developed accordingly, otherwise they would have remained just two-dimensional, fairytale villains.I originally wanted to place the setting in the 1600s, when writer Charles Perrault wrote down the oral fairy tales, because I love the aesthetic of this time period—the glamorous world of Louis XIV and his court at Versailles, complete with frilly dresses, shimmery pastels, and opulent castles. However, my mother urged me to set it in the earlier period from which these folktales originated—the Middle Ages. My mother is almost always right, so after some resistance, I took her advice to heart. The biggest hurdle to setting it in the Middle Ages was that I knew absolutely nothing about this vast and complicated time period. I had studied modern European history, as well as some Ancient Greek and Roman history. But the period from 5th to 15th century that was smashed in between ancient and modern was a total void to me.
I started off slowly, first by looking at Google images of medieval paintings. The paintings looked so flat and distant, as did their sense of aesthetics. With their high foreheads, their deathly pale glances, and their missing eyebrows, the women of the Middle Ages did not look appealing. Their dresses were somber and heavy, the head pieces made them look like they were wearing antlers. The castles were drafty and hard, nothing inviting about them. I started laughing—who could ever think to wear such clothing? Who would want to live in such discomfort? And did I really want to inflict the torment of having to follow such questionable beauty standards upon my characters?
It was fascinating and entertaining to see how, centuries ago standards of beauty differ so much from our contemporary views. Instead of putting on mascara to highlight eyelashes, sparse eyelashes were preferred. Lash extension aestheticians and Latisse would be, back then, out of business, if not considered witches. When it came to their male counterparts, even there one could find some peculiar inklings, such as men with long, skinny legs flaunting them in tights. Cargo pants or baggy jeans would be the height of bad taste. I once again in my life realized that beauty is indeed ‘in the eye of the beholder,’ and that standards were fluid and fickle. The mirror on the wall provides a perception of reality that is sometimes an illusion or a delusion. Once I started learning the odd beauty habits medieval women submitted themselves to, there was no turning back. This bizarre world was the only possible time period in which to set my fairytale retelling. After all, I would be retelling the tale of the two ‘ugly’ stepsisters—and if beauty is in the eye of the beholder, then so is ugliness.
If you have not read Madina Papadopoulos' The Step-Spinsters, then you really must! I cannot recommend this book enough as I really enjoyed how she reimagined the story of Cinderella, with the focus being on the stepsisters, and the historical setting!! You can see my review of it if you need further convincing!!
I want to thank Madina for stopping by and sharing such a great post on Medieval beauty and how beauty is in The Eye of the Beholder!!
The Step-Spinsters by Madina Papadopoulos, July 18, 2017. Published by Kindle Press (for ebook)/Self-published.
Once upon a time, in a land far, far away... ...(actually, in Medieval France, to be exact) there lived Cinderella's stepsisters, Fredegonde the tall and Javotte the small. They wake up the morning after the legendary ball to learn that they each still have a chance to be the bride-all they have to do is make their feet fit into that tricky slipper. Alas, these two damsels under stress never quite seem to fit in anywhere. But that doesn't stop them from wishing and hoping as they set upon a quest for grooms and grandeur of their own.
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