Pearls of Inspiration March 31 2014
As Women’s History Month comes to a close, we wanted to take a minute to reflect on three ladies that have influenced, inspired and illuminated the way not only for the ladies of Waccamaw Pearls, but for women everywhere.
Cleopatra (Ashton’s Pick)
The first report I ever wrote was all about Cleopatra. I read the Egyptian queen's biography in elementary school and was absolutely obsessed. Her life was even better than a fairy tale. I even dressed as her for Halloween (my mom let me wear makeup for the first time).
Born in 69 B.C., Cleopatra, the queen of Egypt, had a life that has inspired books, movies and plays (even 3rd grade reports). Taking the throne at just 18 years of age, Cleopatra led Egypt through struggles of floods, famines and a failing economy. She even raised military might to reclaim the throne from her brother.
Cleopatra is also widely known for her love life. Debate still rages regarding the father of her child, Caesarion, whom she acknowledged as the son of Julius Caesar. Marc Antony called for Cleopatra to speak about her allegiance to Caesar after his assassination. The pair fell in love and produced three children. To regain power, Antony fought Ocatvian (Caesar’s great-nephew), claiming that Ceasarion was the true heir and held the rights to the throne. Defeated in battle, the pair fled back to Egypt.
On the battle field, Antony was falsely informed that Cleopatra had died and took his own life. Overcome with grief, Cleopatra also committed suicide by allowing an Egyptian cobra to bite and poison her.
In a time period dominated by men, Cleopatra captivated hearts, ruled a great nation and left a legacy transcending time.
Pearls: Legend has it that Cleopatra owned the two largest pearls in the world. When she teased Antony about his opinion of a lavish dinner, he challenged her to do better. The next day she prepared a rather ordinary meal by his standards, however when he began to mock her she called forth the dessert, which proved to be mostly vinegar. She dropped one of the pearls in and when it dissolved, she consumed it. She was about to drop pearl number two when the moderator declared her the winner of the bet.
Jane Austen (VC’s Pick)
For those of you who don’t know, Virginia Claire is the ultimate Janeite. Accordingly, no Waccamaw Pearls inspirational women blog post would be complete without a feature on one, Ms. Jane Austen.
Born on December 16, 1775 in Steventon, Hampshire, England, she is a world renowned author with comic novels that bridged the gap between romance and realism and became literary classics.
During adolescence she began crafting her first novel, Sense and Sensibility. As an adult, Jane helped to run the family home, enjoyed the piano, attended church and socialized with her neighbors. She was an accomplished dancer and attended cotillions on the weekend. She would often read a novel aloud, perhaps even one of her own.
She is most famously known for Emma, Mansfield Park, Pride and Prejudice, and Sense and Sensibility - all of which have been adapted as film versions. Also, for all of the lovers of 90’s culture and valley girls, the TV series and film Clueless was actually based on Emma.
Jane was a major influence on English literature and serves as an inspiration as the voice of her generation and influential lady of the arts.
Pearls: Jane referenced pearls in her novel Emma. She described the character of Mrs. Elton as being, "as elegant as lace and pearls could make her" (Chapter 34). Mrs. Elton is not a sympathetic character in the novel, so this statement seems to be a jab at Mrs. Elton’s supposed sophistication. Even pearls could not help Mrs. Elton’s uncouthness. Mrs. Elton later says, "Nobody can think less of dress in general than I do -- but upon such an occasion as this, when everybody's eyes are so much upon me, and in compliment to the Westons -- who I have no doubt are giving this ball chiefly to do me honour -- I would not wish to be inferior to others. And I see very few pearls in the room except mine." (Chapter 38) Here Mrs. Elton again sees her pearls as giving her a status above the others in attendance. Austen makes it clear that Mrs. Elton lacks even common refinement and while her pearls might be a marker of wealth they do not make her truly elegant in Emma’s view or the readers.
Jackie Kennedy (Nikki’s Pick)
Nikki has always been inspired by the iconic Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis. Her style and class are elements that Nikki hopes to embrace in her daily life.
The future first lady was born on July 28, 1929, in Southampton, New York. She was a national champion equestrian and loved to read. Her first job was sparked by her love affair with the arts; she took a placement at the Washington Times-Herald newspaper as the “Inquiring Camera Girl.” Through her position as a photographer, she met Senator John F. Kennedy and fell in love.
JFK took office January 20, 1961, and Jackie became the First Lady of the United States of America. Jackie had a deep sense of country obligation, but also prioritized her family, focusing on her role as a wife and mother. She quickly became a style inspiration to women of all ages. She worked to restore parts of the White House and offered a televised tour of the revised space, winning her an honorary Emmy.
Her youthful spirit was palpable. She promoted the arts and called for visits from artists, writers, scientists, poets and other cultural influencers. She also served as a good will ambassador, traveling with her husband to represent the United States abroad.
A proponent of America’s culture heritage, Jacqueline Kennedy presented herself with poise, fashion and grace. She was an intelligent and beautiful, inspirational lady and remains the staple for American class and style.
Pearls: Jackie often wore a three-strand set of glass pearls, which she happened to be wearing on the tragic day of her beloved husband’s assassination. Sotherby’s auctioned the pearls after her death (valued at $500-$700) for $211,500! The buyer, the Franklin Mint, retains this necklace on display even today.
Who is your pearl of inspiration?