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About Aphrodite’s Apple

It is said that just as all the gods and goddesses were gathered together on Mount Olympus, drinking ambrosia, conducting amorous affairs, and generally meddling with the fates of mortals, the Greek goddess of strife was plotting her revenge for being the only deity not to have been invited to the celebrations. Bearing in mind that understanding and forgiveness weren’t exactly high on the gods’ to-do list at the best of times, the aggrieved goddess expressed her outrage at this slight in the best way she knew how- causing trouble.

The genius lies in the simplicity of the plan. She merely rolled an apple into their midst. The level of chaos that ensued is explained by the fact that, firstly, this apple was made of solid gold and, secondly, it bore the inscription ‘For the Fairest’.

Apparently not lacking in confidence or self-esteem, each goddess immediately claimed the precious fruit for themselves. Zeus, king of the gods, decided that the only way to settle the dispute that was quickly escalating into outright hostility- no small concern with all the thunderbolts left carelessly lying around- was to hold a sort of ancient Greek pageant. Understandably unwilling to make the final judgement himself (he did have to live with these women after all), he decreed that an impartial mortal should perform the task of choosing between three finalists. And who more fitting than the widely acknowledged Most Beautiful Man Alive- Paris?

And so the various personifications of womanly worth (in the guise of Hera, Athena and Aphrodite) had their appeal and value judged by Orlando Bloom Paris. Not trusting either his judgement or his integrity, the three goddesses each made Paris an offer. Hera, Zeus’ wife, offered him the power and wealth of a king. Athena, the goddess of wisdom, vowed to bestow upon him knowledge and understanding of the universe to rival that of even some of the gods themselves. And lastly, Aphrodite, goddess of love and beauty, promised him the most beautiful woman in the world as his wife.Aphrodite and her prize

I am afraid that the name of this blog may have somewhat diminished the surprise of the eventual decision for those of you not familiar with this story, but Paris did indeed present Aphrodite with the golden apple, thereby proclaiming her to be the fairest of them all.

The point of this story (and the premise for this blog) is that this decision, supposedly made thousands of years ago, demonstrates the measure by which women are taught, and indeed encouraged, to judge themselves, the competition that exists between women as a result, and also the way in which women are pigeon-holed. Since ancient times women have generally been depicted as powerful OR wise OR compassionate and beautiful, but very rarely all three.

We can still see very obvious examples of this in our society. Beautiful models are generally greeted with surprise, if not scepticism, if they reveal themselves to be anything other than airheaded bimbos, while female politicians and world leaders are forced to play down their femininity.  Take for example Hillary Clinton who was widely criticised for showing emotion and crying during the presidential race. The disapproval ranged from denouncing it as a calculated and manipulative political move to condemning it as a revealing display of her inherent female weakness. Or consider Condoleeza Rice when she visited Wiesbaden Army Airfield and her now (in)famous choice of outfit. Her attempt to select dark, masculine tailoring in a fashionable military style- no doubt to enhance her status as a tough, powerful force in what is still essentially a man’s world- backfired when amongst the press the look was labelled ‘dominatrix-chic’. It seems that when women try to combine beauty, intelligence and power, stubborn stereotypes depreciate their overall worth into purely sexual terms.

I faced a similar confusion when attempting to choose a theme for my blog. I didn’t want it to be a purely intellectual forum; I wanted it to be fun. I am the quintessential girly girl- I love fashion, I adore makeup, and I am an unashamed follower of pop culture. I wanted a blog that would express all of those things. But I am also fascinated by ancient cultures, excited by artistic masterpieces, a follower of current events, a world traveller, and enjoy nothing more than losing myself in book. When did we get the idea that we had to restrict ourselves to being only one thing? One ‘type’ of person? I, like most beautiful, strong, intelligent women I know, am a mixture of Hera, Athena and Aphrodite, which is why I am writing this blog for stylish, beautiful, intelligent and, above all, interesting women.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Robyn Thomas permalink
    27/09/2011 16:34

    I would LOVE to use this piece as an opener to self-descriptive writing! (I am one of Stacey’s teacher friends…) Would that be ok with you?

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