American Life in the 1920's

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American Life during the 1920s

Part 1 – using primary sources to interpret life during the 1920’s

This document contains a collection of images (advertisements, photographs, films and posters) reflecting parts of 1920s American life. Through observing these images, we are able to construct a detailed idea about life in the United States during the ‘Jazz Age’.

La-Mar Reducing Soap Advertisement

By advertising their ‘fat reducing’ soap, La-Mar persuades women that they need their product by offering a ‘magic solution’ to double chins, tummy fat and more. The title instantly attracts the reader as the impossible (to wash away fat) seems possible. The first sentence is short to keep the reader’s attention and the positive (‘quick and amazing’) results persuade the reader that they must buy the soap that ‘acts like magic’. Imagery is used in the advertisement by showing three women; each woman appearing slimmer. The visual image shows the slimmer women happier and more elegant so women think that the product will not only improve their appearance, but also their self-esteem.

The advert for the soap was made by La-Mar in 1924, a time when women had gained the right to vote and work with better wages. Because women were earning more and could decide what to spend it on, they were targeted by advertisers. As this advertisement shows, advertisers would use purchaser’s vulnerabilities (such as women not wanting to be embarrassed about their weight) and offer their product as the perfect solution to their problems.

The fat reducing soap conveys the importance of body image in the 1920s. The Americans wanted to appear fashionable and as a result, outfits became less modest as hemlines were raised. This further emphasised the need for a good figure, which Americans strove for.

We doubt the effectiveness of this product, as it appears too good to be true. It seems that there was little regulation of the effectiveness of products being sold and Americans had too much trust in advertisers if they bought products such as the soap. We would like to see a customer’s response to the product to understand if it was successful or not.

Blue Moon Silk Stockings Advertisement

The Blue Moon Silk Stockings advertisement from 1920 features a beautiful woman in her underwear. The woman’s pose shows her stretching her leg, which demonstrates the flexibility of the stockings and the freedom they give the wearer. The text at the bottom of the image persuades the consumer that they produce the best stockings; ‘America’s most beautiful stockings’. The use of the superlative tells consumers that there are no other stockings better than Blue Moon’s.

The purpose of the advertisement is to persuade consumers to buy the stockings and it is aimed at women. By using a beautiful model, the advertiser persuades women that by purchasing the stockings, they too can look like the model.

Women in the 1920s began to participate in activities such as sport and dancing, so underwear needed to be less restrictive to provide a greater freedom for movement. Women began to socialise more and in dancing the new dances and driving automobiles, hemlines of dresses were gradually raised. This meant that stockings like these were more popular and women wanted fashionable ones if their stockings became visible. This shows Americans’ desires to be attractive up-to-date with the latest trends.

We think that this advert is similar to adverts in the 21st Century because we still use idealised images of what women want to look like. Advertisers offer a way to reach the ideal image so women are easily persuaded to buy their product.

The King and Carter Jazzing Orchestra 1921 Photograph

The photograph is one taken of the King and Carter Jazzing...
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