DISCUSSION ON FLAPPERS AMERICAN HISTORY 1865-PRESENT
I love the idea of the flappers, daring to look their fathers in the eye with their cigarettes, freshly bobbed hair and exposed knees. My grandmother had a flapper dress; glamorous, beaded, fringed. Even in the 1950s, it seemed scandalous to think someone I knew might have dared to wear it. Daring…that describes the era. Just like Lady Mary in Downton Abbey with her bobbed hair, smoky eyes and that head band, real, live, educated, young women dared to breach protocol, at least until the financial collapse of 1929, which sobered things up a bit as they found themselves married with hungry mouths to feed, and the need and/or desire to keep their husband’s happy.The AVON Company, first known as the California Perfume Company, started in 1886, and offered women the chance to be “the CEO of their own company.” (www.avoncompany.com/aboutavon/history) Imagine in the 1920s and ’30s and beyond, when what husbands thought was a nice diversion for their little women to sell lipstick and hand cream to their friends as long as it did not interfere with getting dinner on the table at five actually put food on that table. A diversion, yes. A source of pin money, sure, but cosmetics is BIG business…BIG business that even the humblest, most exhausted mom in the most rural town patronizes most of the days of her life. Dragging on a hot afternoon? splash on a cool cologne stored in the back of the ice box, and voila! You are refreshed and sweet smelling for the rest of the afternoon. Sunday morning to church? just a light touch of lipstick, a pinch of your cheeks and you’re ready to face the pulpit. Want to stop people in their tracks? wear Chanel No. 5, introduced in 1921 for the new, modern woman Coco Chanel imagined she epitomized. (Chanel No 5: The story behind the classic perfume, 29 May 2011, http://www.bbc.com/news/world) If nothing else, the flappers sparked a generation of women to face the world with style and determination.