Monday, 20 April 2015

Teenage Girls Now and Four Hundred Years Ago

The phase 'some things never change' is utter cobblers.

The world is always changing.  The continents are shifting, the planet wobbles on its axis, new animals appear old ones become extinct and as for people, boy, they change from generation to generation.  Next time you're travelling in the Seventeenth Century ask your average citizen if they know what 'twerking' is.  That said, next time you're travelling in the 1990's ask your average citizen what 'twerking' is.

As I say too much, I'm supposed to be writing SF, but get sucked back in time to write about eras gone by.  I don't try to be super historically accurate, I'm after finding the good story, not remembering whether to write 'thou' or 'thy'.  I would advise to do some research and I find it fun, then I think about how attitudes and behaviour will change.  Awhile back I scribbled down a couple of pictures comparing a modern girl, of say about fifteen, to one from four hundred years ago.  It's not detailed or precise, just some things for me to keep in mind while I was writing stories from around that era.

I found them recently and thought they were worth sharing.  I couldn't ask any seventeenth century teenagers about it (flux capacitor problems again), but a couple of modern ones thought I was about right.  Take a look and see what you think.

I think the key one, is that there was no 'safety net' in the seventeenth century.  Where I live there is free medical care and social payments for those in need.  It changes the way people think for sure.  Some sort of 'safety net' is common in most Western countries and as for jobs, as bad are our recessions get, the past has always been worse.  Few Westerners starve to death and as for getting into trouble abroad, if you ended up in enslaved or in a distant jail, and you were an ordinary Joe, tough luck.

In my notes and in my stories I tend to avoid religion.  My seventeenth century girl would have a strong faith, which one would be dependent on where she lived.  How tolerant of other faiths she would be is also very dependent on where she lived too.  Her reaction to other racial groups would be optimistically described as 'conservative'.  Port towns and cities, by their nature attract 'different' people and familiarisation would lead to tolerance.   Hopefully my twenty-first century girl would never judge anyone on religion, race or physical appearance, then again, she is human and some things never change.

Seventeenth Century Girl - My Notes

Twenty-first Century Girl - My Notes

Useful Books

Not quite the era, but they give a strong idea about attitudes.

The Tudor Housewife by Alison Sim.
Masters and Servants in Tudor England by Alison Sim.
Food and Feast in Tudor England by Alison Sim.

Useful Links

The Ladies of the 17th century were way more hardcore than you - an excellent article on re-enacting the life of a seventeenth century woman.  Shows how tough a girl of the time would be.

Jeff & Caroline's pages of 17th Century Stuff - if you're interested in 17th century costume. - an interesting guide to 17th century beauty more from the rich end of the scale, but who do the ordinary folk copy, even today.

Hair Styles through History - styles through history, very nice summary.