In Winterhalter's famous portrait the Empress Elisabeth of Austria wears glittering diamond stars in her rich, brown hair and a diaphanous gown. She looks so beautiful that it is not surprising that she was compared to the Fairy-Queen, Titania. Her beauty came at a price, however. The rather vain Queen spent hours caring for her hair, skin and figure.
Empress Elisabeth, nicknamed 'Sisi', had a 19 inch waist. She was very proud of this and tried hard to stay thin. Many historians think that she had anorexia because she was constantly dieting and hardly ate.
Sisi was also a great believer in tight-lacing, which would have accentuated her small waist. This practice was very dangerous, causing women to faint and even have shortness of breath.
The Queen's addiction to exercise concerned many. It was regarded as rather eccentric. She practised gymnastics, even swinging along on the rings and liked to go on long hikes.
Sisi was also one of the best equestrians of her age. She went hunting with the wildest riders in England and Ireland, including the dangerous rider, Bay Middleton, and she even indulged in circus tricks. She took her riding extremely seriously.
Sisi's lavish chestnut brown hair was almost floor-length. She regarded it as her greatest asset and she engaged a former theatre hairdresser, Fanny Angerer, to care for it. This shocked the court, especially her mother-in-law, Archduchess Sophie. Fanny received the very high annual salary of 2000 guldens.
Sisi's hair was washed every three weeks - usually with a mixture of cognac and egg. This usually took all day. About three hours per day was spent caring for Empress Elisabeth's beautiful hair.
One of Sisi's face masks is not recommended. She apparently liked to use raw veal! Another face mask was made of strawberries, which would be much nicer to use. She also liked to use rose petals and herbal ingredients.
Warm olive baths were also a favourite of the Empress.
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