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troubleinharlem's avatar

Why was it okay for women in medieval times to almost all of their breasts but would not show their legs?

Asked by troubleinharlem (7981points) January 17th, 2011

I’m watching The Tudors, and everyone is always showing all of their boobs and they’re always upset when someone shows their ankle. That seems a bit backwards… can anyone explain why that was?

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14 Answers

mrrich724's avatar

Because you are watching a show in 2010. They show their tits b/c that will improve ratings. But they feign madness at exposing other skin to try and “keep it real” to back in the day.

If it were true to history, the boobs wouldn’t be out either.

troubleinharlem's avatar

@mrrich724 : No… in most of the period paintings I’ve seen, they always show a lot of chest. It’s not just in this show.

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Jeruba's avatar

Just guessing, but…legs lead somewhere.

Also what we react to as erotically stimulating is as much cultural as natural. There’s a tendency for whatever is hidden to become charged with interest, and hence all the more necessary to hide.

I do believe the historical details seen in The Tudors were carefully researched for authenticity, but I also had the impression that the bustlines were just the least bit exaggerated all the same, and especially the heaving bosom of Princess Mary.

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MissAnthrope's avatar

Going along with what @Jeruba is saying about the legs being eroticized at that time, while the bosom was considered a woman’s best feature (and prominently displayed), the legs were considered a man’s best feature and also prominently displayed by the wearing of tights and hose. When men bowed, they placed a leg theatrically forward, to show it off, and then bowed.

I’m not entirely sure why the legs would be seen as erotic, other than they tended to be covered, especially in colder climes, and perhaps also guilt by association, if you consider them as leading to the loins..

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MissAnthrope's avatar

@the100thmonkey – If you had looked at my profile on old Fluther, ‘Elizabethan history’ was listed as one field of expertise. I’m not an actual expert by any means, but I know a hell of a lot about that period, particularly costuming and dress. Almost everything that I have been taught regarding social mores and dress during that period has been later backed up by independent sources, so I feel pretty confident that I know what I’m talking about.

Google is kind of failing me here, I think I’m not landing on the right keywords to find what I’m looking for in a scholarly journal or paper. But, since you want a source..

The Renaissance world looked to Italy for new fashion concepts. In the late fifteenth century, there was a trend toward longer individual hose and shorter doublets. The new fashion leaned away long tunics and breeches to closely fitted vests, short doublets, and hose to reveal the shapely men’s legs. Henry VIII was admired by many across Europe for the curves of his legs, particularly his calves. (via)

Here’s another..

Dresses cut to expose much of the neckline were acceptable and fashionable. (via)

bkcunningham's avatar

This is from The Tudor’s website. Apparenlty they have blogs about eveything you can imagine to do with the series. This one is a fashion blog.

laureth's avatar

Not that long ago in China, a woman’s bare feet were her most private part. If you walked in on her, she’d cover her feet before anything else – and I’m sure she’d say that we have our priorities backwards. Backwards, see, is relative. And different cultures fetishize different things.

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