Having determined that we're morons, historians have apparently decided that we need to see original First Lady Martha Washington as "sexy." Get, this, ladies! Her wedding shoes? "They were the Manolo Blahniks of her time."
Says The Washington Post, "Martha Washington was hot." Rather than the frumpy old lady we know from portraits — ie, the period when she was actually First Lady — "a handful of historians are seeking to revamp the former first lady's fusty image" by — get this — "asking forensic anthropologists to do a computerized age-regression portrait of her in her mid-20s and," — wait for it — "perhaps most importantly, displaying for the first time in decades the avant-garde deep purple silk high heels studded with silver sequins that she wore on her wedding day."
In a daring piece of "revisionist history" that just may rock your complacent world to its foundation, historians want to make it known that Martha Washington was not fat, and read books besides the Bible. You may have already known she was a capable businesswoman who had other suitors, but did you ever put the appropriately lurid spin on it?
In a little-known letter, [suitor] Charles Carter wrote to his brother about what a beauty she was and how he hoped to 'arouse a flame in her breast.'...'He was clearly sexually excited by her,' said Patricia Brady, a historian who wrote the first revisionist biography of Martha a few years ago. 'When Martha decided to marry George, she didn't marry him just to be a kind stepfather to her two children. He was a hunk, and I think she decided to make herself happy.'
Part of the inquiry serves to overturn impressions largely rooted in historian James Flexner's description of Martha Washington as ""diminutive and plump...neither beautiful nor brilliant. She lacked artistic skill, except perhaps in fine needlework. The letters she wrote were an incoherent jumble of affection and gossip." Harsh indeed, and the historians quoted are at pains to free her from the stigma of "plumpness," using various convoluted methods to establish that she was thin enough to, ostensibly, interest the modern reader. Don't get us wrong, we're all for human interest, learning more about the lives of women past, accuracy, and the necessity of popular history. And we happen to find Martha Washington an intriquing figure who should get her due. But when one scholar claims, "nobody imagines that they were in love and in pain and liked to dance, that what real people go through, they went through," well, give us a little credit. Do landowning, independent mothers of our country need to be young and hot and wearing Louboutins to pique our interest? If so, I feel really sad for historians.
Fresh Look At Martha Washington: Less First Frump, More Foxy Lady [Washington Post]