In the 17th century when Diego Velázquez de Silva painted The Infanta Margarita (1654), children were not recognized as beings in their own right.[i] We can see by the way she is dressed and poses that she is seen as a miniature adult. It was not until the 19th century that children were “invented” as a social category. This unconscious “child abuse” meant that children had no world of their own and were not allowed to be children.
Today, the opposite is true when children are recognized as different beings than adults and allowed to have a world of their own but are prematurely rushed into adulthood. In Velázquez’ time they were inappropriately dressed as adults by the time they could walk and today they are pressured to be pre-pubescent “mimics” of sexy adults. Seen more profoundly, children are over-stimulated to express the most self-destructive aspects of the false self when they are ill-prepared to understand that they are setting themselves up for a life of abject suffering.
Since adults themselves are unconscious in P-B, there is little hope for this cessation of child abuse. We have both children and adults caught up in a costume drama that resembles the illusion of theatre more than any realistic response to the reality of life.
[i] Bonfante-Warren, Alexandra. The Louvre. New York: Barnes and Noble Books. 2000, page 209.
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