With the Royal Wedding upon us this weekend, all eyes are on Megan Markle and the Royal Family. As Americans, this pomp and circumstance of these exciting events are absent. We look to the Royal Family as an example of decorum and tradition. They are fashion trend setters, and with social media, clothes sell out in seconds if seen on Kate Middleton, for example. Though the Royal Family is perhaps controversial, the world looks up to Queen Elizabeth as a strong and well respected woman!! No matter what Megan Markle wears to her wedding, the WORLD will be abuzz with comments. While watching the wedding we will see century old traditions and grandiosity that no Kardashian could ever touch. In part, this is the beginning to the understanding of why European women are not afraid of getting older.
We can glean a greater understanding of the European woman compared to the American woman if we refer back to psychiatrist, Carl Jung. Carl Jung believed that the human psyche is composed of three components; the ego, the personal unconscious and the collective unconscious. He also believed that within the collective unconscious there exist a number of archetypes which are common within every society. An archetype is the model image of a person or role and includes the mother figure, father, and wise old man to name just a few. The mother figure, for example, has caring qualities and is an archetype we see across all cultures. That brings us to a further analysis of the differences in archetypes that exist in European versus American cultures
First we must look at the literary archetypes for Aging Women which can help us distinguish between the collective unconscious of these two cultures. According to Jung, the older woman was known as the “Wise Old Woman”, or the “Crone”(Crone coming from the word crown.) Though it initially started out as position of stature, such as the Queen who wears the crown, it has evolved in to something very different in the United States. There is a very negative connotation when someone is referred to as a Crone, or an old “Croney”. Having no Queen, as many European countries do, we have no Archetype for a strong and respected old woman.
Looking at Queen Elizabeth, we see a woman respected for her leadership of England throughout the world. Queen Elizabeth wears the diamond jewels and robes of the finest fabrics. She is the one who wears the full Crown of diamonds while the Princess wears only the tiara. People bow down to the Queen out of respect and reverence Even the princess must bow down to the Queen.
It is fair to say that really few women in the United States are looked upon the same as a Queen. No one would dare comment on the Queen’s clothing as we do here about the First Lady, no matter who she is. If there were ever an icon or archetype of style, it would have been Jackie Kennedy, who is still talked about today. However, she did not remain in the public eye long enough to become an Archetype, in my opinion. People have never forgotten her and the impact she made on style, but she moved to Greece and our chances to ingrain an Archetype were dashed.
Hence, we, as a newer democratic nation without a queen, are left without a female archetype of any real strength or beauty. At best we have the wise grandmother who bakes cookies and stays home dressed in a “house coat” Women past a certain age are discounted not just by men, but by other women. We have never developed respect for the wisdom, strength, and fortitude of an older woman Sadly, it is “youth” that has become the Archetype of almost everything good. We have seen women go to ridiculous lengths to try to stay younger looking, such as the Housewives of “Whatever ” City. The plastic looking woman is almost becoming an Archetype of the American Culture which is a very sad statement, because it means that some women will do whatever it takes to hold on to something that is impossible to hold.
With all eyes on England this weekend, perhaps Americans will take away something valuable. Megan Markle will undoubtedly be wearing an amazing dress designed by a top designer with the finest fabrics. However, it is the Queen, who will be sitting somewhere in the audience, who has the ultimate power and respect. So no matter how gorgeous and “youthful” Megan will look, which she will, we all know it is the Queen that is most revered. Perhaps an American or two will see the importance of this ancient tradition of respecting your elders!!