Lima Cultural – The Scandalous Tapadas

If the 17th century was Lima’s religious period, the 18th century was its romantic era when poetry, promenading and pomp where the mainstay. It was during this time that the tapadas appeared – the shockingly sensual upper class mestizo women.

It was not long before a rivalry arose between these flirtatious tapadas and the more reserved Europeans. While the Spanish females cinched their skirts to show their tiny waistlines and fluttered fans before the eyes of admirers, the mestizos narrowed their skirts to emphasize their ample hips and bared their arms. But they always kept their faces veiled, with the exception of one eye.

French feminist Flora Tristan, visiting her father’s homeland, described the tapadas’ Moorish costume as a “skirt so tight that it allows just enough room to put one foot in front of the other and to take very little steps. This costume so alters a woman – even her voice since her mouth is covered, that unless she is very tall or very short, lame, hunchbacked or otherwise conspicuous, she is impossible to recognize. I am sure it needs little imagination to appreciate the consequences of this time-honored practice which is sanctioned or at least tolerated by law”. Those “consequences” ranged from men unknowingly flirting with their own wives to infidelity.

Virgin Australia