Makeup and Vikings

As the title suggests, this blog post will be about vikings and makeup. But keep in mind that lack of respect is something that I do not take lightly. It has nothing to do with makeup or no makeup, really.

As you may well know, there are many pictures of me in different viking related groups on facebook. Let it be said that I have never granted permission for such use. Every now and then, I get emails from fans who want to make me aware of these things. Now, this happens so often that I cannot spend more time on having these photos taken down. If I ever get tempted to view my “stolen” photos in these groups, I often regret it because of the comments that people have left under them. Don’t get me wrong, Most comments are nice, but some are not so nice. The not so nice ones are most of the time about my use of makeup – questioning my authenticity, my dignity and my title(!). This upsets me, as I have never even claimed to be a reenactor, this is simply who I am, this is my personal image. Sure, I could go down to the same level and point out various things about the very same people who wrote shit about me, questioning their authenticity on different terms, but that is simply not my style.

Even if I was a reenactor, why should I not “be allowed” to wear makeup?

In my opinion, the whole ‘wearing makeup is not being authentic’ thing is just too silly. Both men and women have worn makeup for thousands of years – in different cultures. Bling on clothes, bling in hair – bling everywhere. The Vikings travelled all around the world, and brought back many treasures such as silk garments and jewelry. Why would you ever think that they wouldn’t bring makeup with them? Vikings were vain people who liked to look good, just as people do today. The human race is not as inventive as we like to think. The world is turning – changing, and changing back again.

“Any culture who carried ear spoons and combs on their belts, had immaculate hair-dos for battle, and used hair dye/bleach surely put colour on their faces… come on!” ~Ásvör Álfsinsbarn

Most reenactors are very cool people, and I respect their work. Still, there are those who want sources on EVERYTHING. And if there is none, then” it surely cannot be authentic”. I refuse to believe that people did not have their own personal style back in the good old days too. We see how creative they were with everything else, don’t we?

Let’s take a moment to remember that not all things have been discovered, not all graves have been opened. We do not know everythingThere is mystery in history and none of us can claim to know the whole truth. Either way, one thing is for sure – I will not sit around and wait for someone to give me a green sign to do what I want. I have my personal style and I will rock it until I am dead and all the way into Valhalla. Come, watch me dance, No one will ever be able to change me, or dictate me. Really, do you think that your opinion about my looks are so important that I should change myself to meet your expectations?
Hail to the no!

Victoria Gugenheim just left me these words on my facebook status about the subject:

Now, I think that the reason why some people choose to rant about makeup is simply because they are feeling threatened, and feel the need to bring others down to make themselves feel better. I do not feel this need, I only feel the need for mead. (ps – stay clear of too much mead, it is strong stuff, even for fellow heathens)

IMG_4228“The only makeup I wear is the blood of my falles enemies” ~Jan Tore

My message is simple;
If you don’t want to wear makeup, don’t. If you do want to wear makeup – do so. No need to claim to know everything about the viking age – Cuz you don’t.

 I thought the viking environment would be an including one, not about pointing fingers at each other in order to “be better than each other”. Let’s be respectful towards each others’ personal styles.Be wild shieldmaidens and don’t let anyone try to tell you what to do with your appearance, because fuck that shit, and let’s have fun.

Let’s celebrate diversity to avoid conformity.

~Sól, The Viking Queen.

40 thoughts on “Makeup and Vikings

  1. I had a similar occurance when I wore a leather wrist brace(laced)when I was in a Saxon re enactment group! I had put some metal pieces on it and because they had no evidence of it I was told it was not authentic! The fact that leather did not always survive from 1600 years ago did not matter and I was told to remove it!

  2. You are beautiful, make-up or none. History has had it’s fair share of beautiful women and you are one of them. Make-up only compliments your features and if viking women wore it or not… who cares? They live on through us, so in a sense they now wear make-up. That’s all.

  3. Looking stunning makes you a target and people feel invited to make remarks about your looks. Since they cannot claim that you are ugly they have to find other points in your appearance to refer to while criticizing you. Criticizing you helps them forget their own weakness and their own assumed ugliness. And people just keep thinking they’re not pretty enough because of the media (which is not true, but it’s the source of eating disorders and depressions). So people are jealous, they’d love to spend as much money and time and be devoted as you but they can’t because maybe they don’t have the time or the money or they fear they could get mocked by their non-viking friends (or even their viking friends by claiming this and that isn’t authentic *enough*) So please don’t get distracted by stupid assumptions how you should be or how you should act because these people don’t matter at all and you will never meet them in person in any way and it wouldn’t make any sense to try and be friends with them when they are that rude to strangers.
    Hail to the Æsir and Vanir and hail to you!

  4. Having done historical re-enactment, I can tell you that the thread counters are the bane of our existence. They are what make history a drag and drudgery rather than engaging and inspiring people to be curious. And they are the same folks who wonder “why aren’t any young people interested in getting involved?”. *sigh*

    On the subject of historical adornment, I can also tell you that the first evidence of tattooing ever found was …. Wait for it …. COSMETIC. It was a mustache tattooed on a gentleman found in South America.

    Adornment has been with us for so so long that we can scarcely calculate it. I’m so sorry you have to deal with jealousy in the guise of “authenticity” and “historical record”. I thoroughly agree with previous posters. Criticizing you is easy. Taking charge of their own choices is a lot more difficult.

    Stay bold. And wield that war paint! 🙂

  5. Well, I think you look great and I applaud you for standing your ground (as a proper Viking would 🙂 ) and posting such a well written post about the issue. Celtic women were well known in the ancient world for wearing cosmetics and for bleaching their hair, as the Roman women sought to emulate them, and prudish Roman writers were quick to chastise!

  6. The whole discussion is utterly ridiculous. Of course none of us are vikings, if being a viking means looking and doing the exact same as our ancestors! Ah, see, being a viking is not about what one choose to express through personal style; it’s about what lays in your heart. If people want to put efforts into being as authentic as possible, be my guest, but don’t they dare question my road to Valhalla merely because I choose to present myself differently.

  7. I know this is a terribly old post, but I read it whilst searching through your blog to source an image someone reposted without credit on Tumblr…. Sound familiar? Bah!

    Anyway, I have also had experiences with the reenactment police trying to put me into the same little box they occupy. I think people in this clique are uniquely disapproving of makeup and other beauty rituals because they are often the kind of people who never feel beautiful themselves, and they associate makeup with cruel people they have known in the past. Hence they publicly take a false, aggressive pride in refusing to primp, and they look down upon people they perceive as too made-up. It is a bizarre, preemptive defense mechanism.

    And people who want credible sources for EVERYTHING are totally insufferable. The vikings are so fascinating partly because so little of them has survived to be studied…and partly because they so obviously had a huge hand in creating the world we know today! They were all over the place! There is absolutely no reason to believe that such a socially advanced people did not paint their faces. As has been pointed out already, they went to other great lengths to make themselves pretty, and makeup was around in numerous cultures since long before the vikings went a-viking.

    Even established sources long used by viking reenactors are being challenged. Have you seen this?

    Sól, I think you look good, and you have intelligence and humility to match your beauty.

  8. keep on being who you are, don’t listen to people like that. “thread counters” are what iv come to know them as too. they are everywhere and will often enough have things in there kit that isn’t “right”. until time travel is invented it is impossible to be 100% accurate. and things like make up i have read as been around much longer than viking age, leather would be used as well weather for a belt or a bracelet , as others have said adorning ourselves seems to one of the constants threw out time.

  9. I’ve actually used your exact reply (nearly verbatim!) to fellow swordnerds questioning the authenticity of the Celtic knotwork on my leather armour. While I believe one of the unfortunate aspects of being a reenactor is that the ambient nerdiness can actually cause you to re-grow your virginity, another one is that people can hyperfocus while being completely inflexible. Both of these things can sap the best flavours from a tasty life.

    Thankfully, said swordnerd and I went out onto the battlefield and whalloped the fuck out of each other with our authentic swords and helmets (made in Pakistan) and there was no further talk of knotwork.

    You’re beautiful and you’re comfortable with you, and both are readily apparent. Rockonwichabadself.

  10. I’m just glad to see people are FINALLY Starting to speak loud & proud of Our heritages, and ancestors.. Today it’s almost a crime to say you’re proud of your heritage if you’re white.. But I say screw them and ‘Eff-that b/s!’.. Our ancestors came from the Visigoth migrations, some ended up north and became the Nordic peoples, strong and smart.. Some stayed in the Bavarian mountains, and brought the Roman Empire down.. …and SOME, Circumnavigated the Globe centuries and centuries before Columbus did, ending up in Peru.. That or we had twins living in the Americas already, since the dawn of mankind.. Since the location of the ‘Chachapoyas’ of Peru, is so close to the Amazon River, I’m assuming thats how they ended up in Peru living next to the Inca Empire.. The Incas called these Tall, Fair skin, Blond hair, blue eyed people the ‘Chachapoya’, ‘The Cloud Warriors’.. You can look it up, ‘The Cloud warriors of Peru’. The Inca royals and aristocracy considered it an honor to marry the Chachapoya’s women, considering them “the most beautiful in the world”.. They were even there when the Spanish arrived..

    So our ancestors helped shape the world from one end, to the other.. That does include parts of Asia, despite Hitler being a sociopath and psychopath, he wasn’t stupid when he sent people to the Himalayan mountains.. The fact is there was an Aryan people that lived in the Hindukush region long before it was made up of the people we know of today who inhabit Afghanistan, Pakistan, and the Indian subcontinent.. That doesn’t mean we were the ONLY ones, it just means we have our stake in history as well, and can be as proud of it, as any other people can of their notable figures..

    • Uh… no. Chachapoyas weren’t even European at the slightest especially from the fact it was quoted by a white person, who thought light skinned people (which naturally exist in the Americas back then ‘cuz not all Native Americans are dark skinned) is equal to European, & whose theory was actually supported by a Nazi race scientist named Jacques de Mahieu who proclaimed that the “Vikings had brought civilization to America” because white people still cannot believe that a bunch of brown skinned people from the Americas could have such an advance civilization ( The great example is the ancient Aztec metropolis called Tenochtitlan ) to the point it can par with the ancient Egyptians/originally called as Kemet, Babylonians, Mesopotamians and Greeks. The theory was also followed & supported by people who also happened to be a bunch of -surprise, surprise- Nazis and white supremacists. It’s not surprising that a bunch of Nazi & white supremacist dudes proclaimed such stupendous point since they always stick to the belief of ” white race is better than thou” notion no matter how inaccurate and wrong it is. An anthropologist by the name of Inge Schjellerup examined the bodies of the Chachapoyas and confirmed that the racial features of those people are consistent with the typical Peruvian/Native American and NOT European. It was then followed by 2 to 5 anthropologists who studied the bodies of the Chachapoya again and supported the well research findings of Inge Schjellerup that the Chachapoya’s were actually ranged from light skin to white-passing with all racial features, from head to toe, of a typical native Peruvian. Also, Native Peruvians from different ethnicities proclaimed that Chachapoyas are light skinned and are diverse beings but nowhere near looking like a European.

      Now, let’s change topic:
      As for the make up part on Ms. Sol’s comment-experience in Facebook, it’s better to ignore those losers who wanted to act so smartly about Viking culture especially a culture they know nothing about.

      Ms. Sol, just rock that awesome make up and viking culture of yours like a pro. 🙂

  11. p.s.- As for your neigh-saying moronic critics,..even the Dead Sea Scrolls mention women wearing Makeup, and that’s talking about ‘The DAWN of Mankind’! ..It describes how They taught women the art of painting their eyes..

  12. As a re-enactor, (complete different era) and one of the horribly blasted Thread Counters that people ridicule. My stance is simply this: do what is right by you. Yes, I want documentation for everything I wear and use… for my historical representations. That is my expectation for myself. On the other hand I am friends with people and I enjoy interacting with them at events that are of the “If they had it, they’d use it” or “It looks good enough” groups and all between. I’d never call another person out on their wardrobe unless they asked my opinion, if they don’t. I keep it to myself. So you do what you feel is right for you and don’t worry about others.

    On a side note, I think you are a very beautiful woman and I appreciate all the work you do. Make up or not. I can’t imagine the amount of time you put into making your persona’s and wardrobe. Please don’t let the negative people get you down.

  13. I have seen and read this post several times and all i can say is WOW! Just as stated above people feel insecure about themselves and feel the need to bring others down. Not everyone is like this but a good percentage of people no matter where you are from or whatever beliefs you follow. I myself have been following both you and Tatharial for a while now and you my dear are a beautiful, inspiring, and strong woman. I have much respect for you and admire your strong will to stand up for yourself and anyone else that may be in a similar situation. NO ONE HAS the right to critasize you for who you are and how you represent yourself. Keep being the beautiful woman that you are and to all those others that have something negative to say…. well boo to them! and again Makeup has been a adornment since before writen time can tell so who are they to say its not authentic?! I will look forward to seeing many more wonderful things from you and the great friends you have.

  14. Pingback: Natural Viking makeup (part one) ~Blueberry | TheVikingQueen

  15. Ibrahim Al-Tartushi, an Arab traveler who visited the Viking trading hub of Hedeby in 950AD wrote: “there is also an artificial make-up for the eyes, when they use it beauty never fades, on the contrary it increases in men and women as well.”

  16. I have had the same experience in my reenactment group.
    ”You wear to much makeup! You should go barefaced.” I have heard this so many times now and I am getting quite annoyed. I always answer that they have no proof that vikings did or did not wear makeup. And I also say that I thought that I came into a group where I would not be judged and that they were kind and welcoming. But most of the time I feel like I do not fit in anymore. I wil not change myself to fit in.

    Stay strong my dear!

  17. Do you have any bare-faced photos out there? I would love to see your natural beauty as well. I believe if you made video tutorials on the gorgeous makeup you wear in your photos, many of your fans (including myself) would be ecstatic!

  18. Love what you do wild shieldmaiden / Viking Queen! and your makeup. There is evidence to suggest that Vikings at the very least wore eyeliner.

  19. I love your look. I just say if asked “Well, my research shows…. ” and leave it at that.

    You go, girl
    Dale Himebaugh (Torsägen) the Story Teller

  20. I always thought the Vikings wore thick black eye liner anyway, and you present yourself beautifully. I like authenticity to a point, I mean I wouldn’t walk into a Regency style ball in a tracksuit. It’s never going to be 100% authentic anyway, so as long as the person wearing it is happy, then I can’t argue with them

  21. The S.C.A. uses toilets, toilet paper, sleeping bags, etc.
    Please, this is supposed to be fun and make people happy, not force them to learn how to card, spin and weave their own clothes, etc.

    Want to make them regret insulting you when they are the ignorant ones?

    The written history of makeup begins with the Sumerian men and women were possibly the first to invent and wear lipstick, about 5,000 years ago.
    They crushed gemstones and used them to decorate their faces, mainly on the lips and around the eyes.
    Around 3000 BC to 1500 BC, women in the ancient Indus Valley Civilization applied red tinted lipstick to their lips for face decoration.
    The use of mehndi (henna paste) and turmeric is described in the earliest Hindu Vedic ritual books c. 1500–500 BCE.
    Cosmetics were part of daily life for women in Ancient Rome, especially prostitutes and the wealthy.
    Some fashionable cosmetics, such as those imported from China, Germany and Gaul, were so expensive that the Lex Oppia tried to limit their use in 189 BCE.

    Cleopatra VII Philopator, yes THAT Cleopatra, wrote a book on how to make cosmetics and perfumes, and how to apply them.
    This scroll was known to Greeks, Romans, etc. as people traveled to Egypt.

    Later, in Japan, Samurai painted their faces before battle so they would leave a beautiful corpse.
    Samurai were written about in the Kokin Wakashū (905–914), the first imperial anthology of poems, completed in the first part of the 10th century.

    The Ancient Greeks also used cosmetics as the Ancient Romans did.
    Cosmetics are mentioned in the Old Testament, such as in 2 Kings 9:30, where Jezebel painted her eyelids—approximately 840 BC—and in the book of Esther, where beauty treatments are described.

    As you can tell there are many sources on historical use of cosmetics.
    So, the next time someone starts to hassle you ask, “I would be happy to inform you of some facts concerning this matter. Shall I ?”.

    If they say YES, pull a copy of this out of your purse or pocket, and read it to them, slowing down as you get near the end.
    As you end, bring your voice to a slow stop.
    Then, look directly at them, and ask, “Do you want me to go on? I have several hours worth of material if you want to listen to it.”.
    They will probably flee in terror.

    If not, you can say, “Well, perhaps what I have already covered, is enough. I wouldn’t want to lecture you. However, as you can obviously tell, my use of cosmetics is based on ubiquitous knowledge, along with a plenitude of other historical facts”.

    Next thing you know, they will have an urgent appointment elsewhere, or be running to find a dictionary to find out what ubiquitous and plenitude mean.
    If they simply stare at you with glazed eyes, pat them gently on one arm and say, “It is rather daunting, isn’t it.”
    Then smile and walk away, while giving a little wave (dismissing them).
    Score 10 for you and -13 for them.

  22. Pingback: Makeup and Vikings | Every Writer Needs a Safe Place to Write

  23. Dearest Viking Queen,
    Thank you for your most passionate commentary! You’re one of the greatest shield maidens I have ever known. Peace to you and your ancestors residing in the Viking halls of Valhalla! Blessings all!

  24. There are alternative theories about the use of the white lead paste which was found in the box brooch in Fyrkat grave. A face paint or a substance to make the brooch leak proof, we may never know. And orchil dyes may have been used not only to dye fabric but also to tint lips. I have started researching the potential of cosmetic use among the Norse communities and the Slavs. They did not leave written records but is is hard to believe that they did not use any cosmetics when the whole known world (or at least the wealthy elites) of that period were using makeup on daily basis.

    • I guess it depends on what you define as «actual historical fact». My understanding is that wether vikings used makeup is debated due to lack of archeologial evidence. Ibn Fadlan wrote about his observations, that’s about the only source I know of. Do you know of more?

  25. Thank you for these words. I’m trying to bring out more of my viking heritage in my style and appearance in my band and I was not sure if I was “appropriating” a culture. The more I look into the history of makeup across cultures and tribes it seems that there is no one look but several similarities as well as uniqueness between many different peoples. Reading your thoughts on the matter is nice cause it’s kind of the way I’ve been feeling. Fuck it and wear what you want! Skol!!

  26. Hi. I really enjoy seeing your pictures pop up and I agree with your opinion on makeup. You know that they would have had some type of moisturizer with cold, windy climate they lived in. They had dyes. Why not a combination of the two. Enjoy your life and persona and don’t let anyone trample on it.

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