Flappers Essay

771 Words 4 Pages
Flappers

War is often followed by change; World War I is no exception. World War I is often labeled the cause for the rise of a feminine revolution-“the flapper”. Before the term “flapper” began to describe the “young independently-minded woman of the early Twenties” (Mowry 173), the definition that is most prominent today, it had a 300-year long history. The young woman of the 1920’s was new and rebellious. In her appearance and demeanor, she broke the social constructs of her society.

When the war started, women had to take over the jobs of men and they learned to be independent. These women exemplified the beginning of change. Coupled with enfranchisement and the increased popularity of birth control, women experienced a new
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The car, a new invention, was another tool in their rebellion; it was fast and could be reckless. Flappers used cars for three purposes: to drive, to ride and for “petting”. Petting was the sexual activity practiced in the back seats of cars. People also had petting parties, which mortified the older generation.

The carefree attitude of the younger generation was attributed to the psychological trauma caused by the unprecedented casualty level of the war. This generation had the theory that each day might be the last, therefore lived it to the fullest. This mental change was accompanied by a change in the physical styles of women. Fashion trends that were held in high regard by tradition were challenged to demonstrate the new risqué way of life.

The Gibson glamour girl preceding the flapper wore long tresses, a high-neck starched shirt, and a long skirt over restrictive undergarments. The flapper did not adhere to these types of restrictions. Pantaloons and corsets, the Gibson girl’s undergarments, were not conducive to the dancing of the flapper or the need for physical freedom. They were replaced by underwear called step-ins (Rosenberg 2). The flapper fashion showed much more skin than the Gibson girl’s outfit. She wore a loose fitting dress that came just to the knees, with a dropped waistline and often showed the arms. The look worn by the flapper was called the “garconne” meaning little boy. The hair was first cut very short into a “bob” then even
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