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Modern Equals Streamlined

Little women and larger-hip frocks., Digital ID 1599817, New York Public LibraryI discovered the illustration below in our Picture Collection. It’s actually a compelling piece of evidence for the point I’ve made previously about feminine body types and the start of the modern era.

This advertisement for dress patterns from the early 1930s boldly states: “Look Slim.” The elongated line that appeared in the 1920s is carried to new lengths here, even as the hemlines remain decorously modest. These garments are an early version of the shirtwaist dress with its clinched belt. The drumbeat of advertising and exhortation to women began in this period and continues today. Previously, looking slim was an implied option. A caption on this ad says “Little women and larger-hip frocks,” proof that the clothing industry—and contemporary values—had already decided thin was desirable. An eye-opening look at the slippery road from this point on can be found in Naomi Wolf’s The Beauty Myth.





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