Fashion and Women?s Movements in the Past Century

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Today’s American women are following centuries old traditions of rebelling against society’s outlook on women around. Earlier in America’s history, it was unheard of for a woman to be in both the public and domestic sphere. Women were forced to spend most of their life in the domestic sphere, and wear ridiculous clothes everyday. For a long time, women have been degraded and pushed around, causing women to initial movements to change the way society treats women. In America, “the land of the free”, women have to fight for their equal rights. Reformers, such as Fanny Wright, Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Amelia Bloomer and many more have done so through their actions, and speeches. Nevertheless, in recent times fashion has become an available source of expression. It is a powerful tool to be able to be seen and not heard--but still get the message across. Since its humble beginnings, fashion has oftentimes just existed, but in the past century, it has existed as a form of expression, art, and liberation Now, women are still being influenced and challenged by the media and their peer, but slowly, more and more women are standing up for themselves. Before the early to mid 1800’s, women were forced to squeeze into corsets made of whalebone, steel or buckram. It gave them the figure eight profile which resulted on a number of health problems, including their organs and body to become deformed. Over the corsets, women wore heavy layers of petticoats despite the weather. (Small Business Administration 3) Dresses emphasized the bust and hips, attempting to make women look very voluptuous. With the spread of commercialism, hundreds of new beauty products were introduced. These ever-popular restricting fashions were later outdated. This fashion was not comfortable in any sort of the imagination, and a social reformer, Wright started to make a difference. She originated a modified version of dresses in the Victorian Age. This new dress was described as “long-sleeved, high-necked, and loose-fitting tunic over a pair of baggy trousers” (Banner 23). Anthony, Stanton, Bloomer, and along others started to wear this new comfortable fashion. Bloomer promoted this new fashion which become known as “Bloomers” in The Lily; a newspaper for women promoting “women’s suffrage, temp... ... middle of paper ... ...shion of the nineties, which did provide liberation. By the end of the century, homosexuality was accepted and commonplace. The future of women’s fashion is uncertain—in that shock value is harder to come by with each passing year. There is a concept in fashion that nothing is new, everything has been done before. This theory is coming closer to obvious reality, as fashion shows of recent years have visual throwbacks as late as the Victorian era. Although the direction is not yet decided, it is almost definite that women will use fashion as an important tool for expression and freedom in the future. Works Cited Banner, Lois W. Women in Modern America a Brief History. New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1974. Guerrilla Girls. “Frequently Asked Questions.” Guerrilla Girls. 2005. 2 May 2005 . Small Business Administration. “ Women’s History Month Amelia Jenks Bloomer.” Online Women’s Business Center. 16 Apr. 2002. 3 May 2005 . Thomas, Pauline Weston. “1950’s Glamour Fashion History 1950’s.” Fashion Era. 2005. 2 May 2005 . World Book, Inc. “The Rise of the Modern Women’s Movement.” The Modern Women’s Movement. 2004 ed. 1. 2 May 2005 .

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