Empress Elizabeth of Austria
After enjoying an informal and carefree childhood, Elizabeth (Sisi) had a hard time adjusting to the strict ettique of the Hapsburg court. Her mother-in-law was extremely overbearing, and even took complete control of Sisi’s children, deeming the “silly young mother” unable to raise them. Her husband, Franz Joseph, was passionately in love with her, but she did not reciprocate his feelings fully and felt stifled by the extent of his obsession.
Because of her disapointment in court life, she became extremely obsessed with her weight and looks. Today, many believe she suffered from anorexia or bullimia. Every day, she exercised until exhaustion and even had a gymnasium installed in the palace. She tightlaced to reduce her waist to a mere 16 inches, and at one point wieghed less than 100 lbs. One of her dressses displaying her waitline is shown below.
Elisabeth also practised what could be called a true beauty cult. She had floor length hair and spent almost 3 hours styling it everyday, and had her hairdresses pluck out the grey hairs later in her life. She slept without a pillow on a metal bedstead, all the better to retain her upright posture, with either raw veal or crushed strawberries lining her nightly leather facial mask. To further preserve her skin tone, she took both a cold shower every morning (which in later years aggravated her arthritis) and an olive oil bath in the evening. Below is a Winterhalter potrait showing her abundant hair.
After her son’s mysteries death, possibly a suicide, she withdrew from court life. To escape from her meloncholy, she traveled the world. She traveled to Geneva in 1898, where she was assainated by an Italian anarchist, and her tragic life ended at age 60.