Free Spirit Flapper
Written by Rehana Akudi,
5th January 2020
The Roaring Twenties of America saw a break from the traditional view of women. This new style known as flappers derived from Britain which featured a different way of living and so the ‘new woman’ was created. WW1 had resulted in a shift of many women entering the workforce working in factories. This break in society’s traditional structure meant it became impossible to return to the old values and traditional way of life post-war. The tragedy of WW1 meant many young men had lost their lives. Young women were now without suitors for marriage and growing to be independent. A generation of young women were embracing a new lifestyle which was considered immoral, dangerous, sexual and outrageous. The flappers sought to alter the role of women by pushing for political, economic, social and sexual freedoms for women.
“The corset is as dead as the dodo’s grandfather… The petticoat is even more defunct…”
An Extract from “Flapper Jane”, article from The New Republic, 9th September 1925.
Flappers had a distinctive appearence by wearing short skirts which fell just below the knee, short bob haircuts, wearing more make-up which was previously only done by loose-women, and dancing the uninhibited Charleston. The Roaring Twenties were also known as the Jazz Age. The craze of jazz music required women to dance freely. The very daring smoked and drank alcohol in public. Conservatives disliked such ‘flappers’. The University of Florida President alarmed by the styles said,
“The low-cut gowns, the rolled hose [stockings] and short skirts are born of the devil and are carrying the present and future generations to destruction.”
Zelda Fitzgerald, wife of the author of The Great Gatsby F. Scott Fitzgerald, declared the flapper girls to be,
“reckless and unconventional, because of their quest in search of self-expression.”
Liberation meant to these young women the freedom to dress how they desired and defy the accepted norms of feminine behaviour.
Famous Flapper Girls
Some of the most well known and iconic flapper girls were Josephine Baker, Zelda Fitzgerald, Colleen Moore, Norma Shearer, Marie Provost, Joan Crawford and Clara Bow.