What were they doing to survive? How did they live? Did they care?
One reason flappers had survived was that they remained the most visible and visible women in the community. Women in their late teens and early twenties (or even teenagers) were typically seen carrying out menial tasks like cooking and cleaning, or carrying shopping bags with their children, which was not something that women did, so they were seen as less visible. That changed when there was a change in the clothing. Women started wearing white, which made them invisible. This led to the idea that women were ‘unmanly’.
Other factors included the appearance of the different women’s flappers. They wore white, or light coloured, dresses over black skirts and tops, as well as black and white dresses that could be removed for changing up and down the house. The colours of their dresses helped shape and define their personalities.
What did the women of the 1840s think about this? Are they proud of their flappers or not?
Women in the 1850s and 1860s were often quite self-critical that they were the only women in the community without a formal education, or did they feel that they were being taken advantage of with the help of male relatives? In my research I found the flapper women were considered beautiful and glamorous and that they were well-loved.
There was a lot of negative reinforcement for these women. One of the biggest ideas that reinforced the idea that the women were “unmanly” was that they were wearing their dresses too low. This meant that they were not comfortable in their clothes and many blamed themselves for not taking care of their clothes properly. I found a very interesting study in Britain’s National Museum of Women’s History, which told about a study that a doctor conducted on the effect of dress on the health of a group of girls. I read somewhere online that it suggested that women who wore too little undergarment could get ill, but the study that I had found said that it was the men who were responsible for wearing too much.
The idea that women were unmanly was probably reinforced by events like the Second World War.
What would the 1860s and 1870s women have felt about their flappers today? Are they being celebrated, and if so, why?
Today with the increase in online research it is not as hard to find old newspaper articles or images of flappers. They were still being talked about in newspapers long after they left the fl
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