Flappers in the Roaring 20s
The flappers were a great inspiration to all women around America. We have the rights that we do and are seen as individuals because of their role in changing the way women were viewed. I chose this topic because I am a feminist. I believe that women are equally able or even more able to perform roles that men do in society. With this I hope to attain more in depth understanding for the roles of women in America, from the beginning up to the recent era. In the early 1920's, a new era was born. This era paved the path for women today. Women were no longer afraid to be themselves or to be different. It was the time when women stopped following the rules that were set out for us, and started doing what they wanted to do. A new woman was born
a flapper. A flapper is defined as a young woman in the 1920s that flaunted her unconventional conduct and dress. She danced, smoked, drank, and flaunted her sexuality to the dismay of her elders. She was a part of the Jazz Age. This young woman sought enjoyment in cabarets, dance halls, and movie theatres. No respectable middle class women would have attended any of these places a generation before. Woman began expressing themselves in fashion, behavior, consumption, politics, and in everything else they could. Flappers paved out the road for all women today, giving us the opportunity to vote, work, and be our own individuals. They played a big role in the changing of women.
Before the 1920's, society assumed that the only profession for a woman was motherhood and domesticity. They were limited to the things they could do and were forced to obey man's orders. The eyes of society oppressed women; men oppressed women. They weren't allowed to get jobs or to better themselves. So, women rebelled against their men and society. Their elders saw this as a lack of respect towards their achievements. Their boldness was seen as dishonor to all women. Flappers created an era in which the culture was emphasized solely on pleasure, consumption, sexuality, and individualism.
Fashion was a big statement for flappers. They expressed themselves through clothing by wearing bold colors, and revealing clothing. A fashionable flapper had short sleek hair, a shorter than average shapeless shift dress, a chest as flat as a board, wore make up and applied it in public, smoked with a long cigarette holder, exposed her limbs and characterized the spirit of a reckless rebel who danced the nights away in the Jazz Age. One of the very recognizable fashion features of flappers was "bobbed" hair. It was first introduced in America during and just after World War I, and popularized by society dancer Irene Castle in 1914. Irene acquired this haircut in a European Tour where she'd seen fashionable Parisians wearing it. Women usually wore a cloche hat to compliment their bob hairdo. Then the haircuts just kept getting shorter and shorter into what was called the "shingle" or the "Eton." Woman's clothing started to become more reflective of their personalities and they began to experiment with different fabrics for clothing. The types of fabric that flappers wore were silk, cotton, linen, and wool in different combinations. They felt more comfortable in this type of fabric.
The Flappers' image consisted of very dramatic changes in women's overall appearance. It was said that the girl had "parked" their corsets to go dancing. Women needed to be able to move freely because of the vigorous dances of the Jazz Age. Corsets did not allow them to move like they had to, so underwear called "step-ins" replaced pantaloons and corsets. Women would wrap their chest with strips of cloth in order to flatten it and have a boyish look. The flapper waistline dropped to the hipline and she wore stockings rolled over a garter belt. The hem of skirts began to rise just below the knee.
You could also see the flapper attitude emerging. Bleak truthfulness, fast living, and an outburst of sexual behavior...
Bibliography: 1. Evans, Sara M. Born for Liberty. New York: The Free Press, A Division of Macmillan, Inc., 1989.
2. Pascoe, Christine. "Flappers and Fashion." www.rambova.com. 2002. The Louise Brooks Society. http://www.rambova.com/fashion/fash4.html
3. Rosenberg, Jennifer. "Flappers in the Roaring 20s." 20th Century History. www.about.com. 2005. About, Inc. http://history1900s.about.com/od/1920s/a/flappers.htm
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