The 1920s were a time of vast revolutionization, independence, and freedom. They started forging the path to what America is today, a booming and industrialized country. They also forged the path for the independent and forward-thinking women of America today. The 20s paved the way to the more tolerant and progressive country we have today. The 20s was one of the premier decades in influencing women to be the more independent and powerful people they are today. The women of the 1920s were still living by the ideals of the Victorian Age.
Well the older generations like the mothers and the grandmothers were. They were still living by the ideals that women are to wait on their husbands, hand and foot and their place was at home or out shopping and socializing. “Women were expected to be the guardians of morality and innocence; they were to obey their husbands, bear and raise children, and run their home efficiently. Sex was a duty, the price they paid for the privilege of marriage and having babies” (Roaring 80). The women were expected to sit back with their lips shut tight and just obey their husbands.
They weren’t expected, nor were they supposed to have any thoughts of their own because they had the privilege, not the choice or the want, the privilege to be married to whomever and to have children. The young girls couldn’t go out and experiment with different men to find who they might love best, it was against the will of the still-stuck-in-the-Victorian-Age parents, especially the mothers. “Young girls must look forward in innocence to a romantic love match which would lead them to the alter… and until the ‘right man’ came along they must allow no male to kiss them” (The 1920s 142).
How were the young girls supposed to know who the ‘right man’ was without experimenting for a little bit? They couldn’t determine who the right man was, or if the very first man that came along was the right man or not. The women and girls were also supposed to dress as if still stuck in the Victorian Age as well, though the 20s is right after the Victorian Age. They wore huge dresses that went down as far as possible without touching the ground, layers upon layers of fabric, and let’s not forget the all-important corset. The previous generation of women had worn high collars and ankle-length skirts, under which were layers of petticoats. Their long hair was coiled or piled on top of their heads. They wore uncomfortable corsets in order to achieve the ideal ‘hourglass’ figure: a small waist and wide hips” (Roaring 80). The women wore such uncomfortable clothes and so much of them because that is what was considered acceptable for them to wear; they were supposed to show as little skin as possible in respect for their husbands.
These women didn’t drink or smoke or show displays of affection in public, afraid to tarnish their boyfriend or husbands reputation. They did as little as possible to their appearance physically and personality-wise to keep the attention away from them as much as possible. Flappers were the women who changed the Victorian ideals. They were the ones who revolutionized how women could live their lives. “Flappers broke traditional behavior patterns” (Through the Decades 49). “In general, the flapper thumbed her nose at tradition” (Roaring 80).
The flappers didn’t sit around and wait for their husbands to come home or go out and window shop, they went and had the fun they wanted to have. “The flapper was independent, free-spirited, and fun-loving” (Roaring 80). Flappers went out and enjoyed themselves, they went to parties and speakeasies to dance to jazz all night long. “No longer did even an inch separate the men and the women; they danced as if glued together, body to body, cheek to cheek” (The 1920s 143). The women didn’t wait for the “right men” they went out and tried the men out themselves, found out who could be a right fit for them.
They also didn’t go out just looking for a husband, they simply went out to have a good time and dance with some men, whether it was just innocent dancing or not, their lives didn’t revolve around finding a husband. They had learned they didn’t need a man to be happy, and that they could have fun without doing house work, going window shopping, or gossiping at a card game on a Sunday afternoon. The flappers also didn’t follow the Victorian ideals in the way that they dressed. They didn’t wear layers and layers of clothes that went down to the tops of their feet; they dressed a little more freely. The flappers wore thin dresses, short-sleeved and occasionally sleeveless, some rolled their stockings below their knees, revealing shin-bones and knee-caps” (The 1920s 143). “The flapper created a stir by her very appearance. Her hair was bobbed (short), her skirts short, her clothing simplified. She wore silk stockings, makeup-especially rouge for her cheeks, eyeliner to make her eyes look dramatic and bold lipstick-long strings of beads, and close-to-the-head hats called cloches. The ideal flapper was thin and boyish and in fact some women taped down their breasts to create that affect” (Roaring 80).
The flappers revolutionized womens’ appearances and the way they carried themselves. Gone were the modest, pounds of clothes and non-made-up faces, replaced with dramatic, stylish knee-length dresses and rouge lips with black-lined eyes. “… drawings of John Held Jr. , his cartoons of modern women-thin, short-haired, and young-decorated pages of national magazines as well as the covers of the New Yorker and Life. Held’s flappers danced the Charleston, kissed their boyfriends while they played golf, and sat behind the wheels of fast cars” (Through the Decades 49).