Cai Yong was also known as Cai Bojie. He was a renowned literary giant from Qi County, Henan Province in the Eastern Han Dynasty (202B.C. – 220A.D.) Cai Yong was known to value morality and to uphold justice. He enjoyed reading, mathematics, astronomy and playing music. In order to educate his daughter Cai Wenji1, he wrote an essay titled “Lessons for Women” He did not object to his daughter dressing up or wearing makeup. In fact, he believed that women should wear light makeup to make themselves more presentable and that women should keep their hair clean and glossy. On the other hand, he emphasized that it is more important for a woman to cultivate her inner beauty than to improve outer beauty. He believed that true beauty comes from the inside.
In “Lessons for Women”, Cai Yong wrote, “Like the head and the face, the heart also needs care. Dirt will build up if you fail to wash your face for a day. Evil ideas will invade your heart if you fail to cultivate kindness for a day. Everyone knows to make her face more beautiful, but not everyone knows to cultivate her kindness. If you don’t take care of your face, even a fool will call you sloppy. If you don’t cultivate your morality, a moral person will call you wicked. It is tolerable to be called sloppy by a fool, but there is no place for you in the world if a moral man calls you wicked. Therefore, when you look at yourself in the mirror, think about whether your heart is pure. When you put on perfume oil, think about whether your heart is tranquil and peaceful. When you put on makeup, think about whether your mind is clean. When you moisturize your hair, think about whether your mind is at ease. When you brush your hair, think about whether your mind is rational and reasonable. When you put your hair into a bun, think about whether your mind is as straight and elegant as your hair bun. When you tidy up the fine hair along your face, think about whether your heart is as tidy.”
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