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The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 4, Issue 11 (June 1, 1930)


Beauty! What is it? I am talking now of human, feminine beauty—that divine gift which poets have praised since the days of Helen of Troy—a gift which has drawn from musicians their sweetest, saddest songs—which has inspired the artist to produce melting and exquisite gleams of colour—which has even caused mighty empires to rise and fall. Did not the great Mark Antony lose the world for Cleopatra's dusky charms? Oh, Beauty! What follies, but, also, what noble deeds have been committed in thy service!

To the twentieth century has been granted an astonishing number of characteristics unfamiliar among our feminine ancestors. We are admittedly enterprising, practical, clear headed and strong-willed. We are frantically busy, reasonably joyous; we are living every second of our allotted three score years and ten; and they tell us that in consequence we are sacrificing our supreme gift—the gift of beauty. When we look about us in a crowded tearoom—at the theatre, in the trains, trams, everywhere—we are reluctantly compelled to admit that a poet, however poverty-stricken, would hardly prostrate himself in admiration before the lanky, shingled, loud-voiced young thing who dashes about so independently, who refuses a seat in the tram, and who discusses anything from birth control to the Labour Government, with intelligence and vigour. What we have gained in one respect we have lost in another—they tell me. The lordly male of the species takes off his hat to our acquisition of brains—to our good fellowship and help—he is faintly jealous of our capacity to do everything that he does equally well and infinitely more gracefully—but he bemoans our loss of charm. Before, he admired from afar, he looked upon us as something half angel and half imbecile, something to be cherished, chided and indulged, something strictly ornamental; in fact quite a valuable “possession.” He was proud of our beauty, and did not know, or wish to know, how we produced the effect that charmed his masculine eyes. Now-a-days all is different. “The old order” has changed indeed. We make no secret of our powder puffs and our lip-sticks—therefore we have lost half our charm! However, it is too late to draw back, and we can't give up our intellects and retire once more into servitude. We have gained freedom—why on earth should our beauty suffer from intelligence and thought? Let us give it just a little more thought, and I am convinced that a Shakespeare, a Schubert, and a Michael Angelo will arise to do homage to the eternally provocative faces of our daughters. There shall be no antagonism between Brains and Beauty, but a reconciliation resulting in a super-woman!

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