Her work has focused on the social and cultural history of American women in the twentieth century and includes studies of working women and everyday life, working-class and interracial sexuality, and the American beauty industry. This led to changes of social life amongst all classes, lead to freer sexuality, greater autonomy for women, and the appeal of amusement to the masses. Others had previously worked for manufacturers in product testing, market research, or sales. Chapter two attempts to explore how the zoot-suiters understood themselves. It may come as a surprise, then, that Helen Landsdowne Resor called herself an ardent feminist.
How do you think the cosmetics industry has progressed during the last 100 years? Though recipe books for cosmetics were common, some women used commercial products like Laird's Bloom of Youth, which landed more than one of them in the hospital with lead poisoning. Some scientists questioned the very existence of sex differences. Follow-up And your sources were what? Indeed, women composed a small minority of professionals working in advertising, magazines, and newspapers in the early twentieth century, and they rarely controlled those enterprises or held executive positions within them. The following lecture by Peiss on audio file was delivered at the University at Albany, State University of New York, on March 26, 1998. Successful recruits usually had already gained indispensable experience in the world of commerce. With this came a new conception of leisure as something separate from the workplace.
The immigrants saw the culture as a threat to the old culture, while their children would anxiously accept American culture. The zoot suit started in the streets and dancehalls of Harlem and spread rapidly around the country. Women advertisers were unable to reconcile these tensions, and conventional notions of womenin terms of beauty, frivolity, and romanceresurfaced. If the nineteenth century offered a carnivalesque, chaotic promotional world of peddlers and hucksters, the modern ad agency promised to create a national market of consumers, indeed, to systematize desire. Such regulations affected the manufacturing, retailing and marketing whose impact could not be expected. Consumption is coded as a female pursuit, frivolous and even wasteful, a form of leisure rather than productive work.
That change began taking place in the 1930s when some regulation of cosmetics developed. Do you find women played any part in this effort to get women to ride bicycles? Nancy Stephenson interview, Sidney Bernstein Papers, J. Others perceived a niche within style marketing specifically for women and actively cultivated it. Yet their approach, as those words suggest, ultimately reinforced the stereotype of the female consumer. She eventually expanded the business and moved it to St. At the same time, a significant number of women at J. Peiss Editor's Note: This is the electronic text of the annual Phi alpha Theta lecture delivered by Professor Kathy L.
Many had been department store merchandisers, publicists, mail-order and local advertisers, and magazine writers. It also surfaced when companies repositioned consumer goods initially associated with men in order to expand the market. Rather, it capitalized on patterns of women's social life -- their old customs of visiting, conversation and religious observance, as well as their new presence in shops, clubs and theaters. When her boss, Stanley Resor, left the firm to open a branch of the J. The , with additional notes, is also available. The career of Helen Landsdowne Resor illustrates both the opportunities and limitations women encountered in this effort.
Was there a male consumer in the minds of the businesses and the advertisers? Walter Thompson News Bulletin no. The only totally and truly American civilian suit. Some women actively sought to negotiate and even redefine what it meant to be a modern woman in a consumer society. Malone began her business in Illinois by manufacturing the product Wonderful Hair Grower and with her sister went from town to town demonstrating the shampoo on herself. This orientation to reading the social symbolism of clothing and style, sparked by the zoot suit, continues to inform how we think about youth subcultures and fashion more generally. Although to some this rendered the zoot suit an unpatriotic style, many found it a fit subject for humor and popular culture.
A woman who might call herself a feminist and really not have committed herself in any way to feminism. Walter Thompson Company News-Letter 132 13 May 1926 : 119. I think you see it segmented earlier than traditional. She also makes little mention of the proliferation of plastic surgery, the newest cosmetic industry. Question: Did women play a role in defining women by playing a role in what was actually produced, or what was provided the consumersthinking now to focus test groups that we have today that actually shape what's produced? Nor were these perceptions limited to affluent women: in some class-conscious cities, like Seattle after World War I, working-class women organized consumer boycotts and union label campaigns to support union activism in the workplace. It also surfaced when companies repositioned consumer goods initially associated with men in order to expand the market.
Even short stories rein forced consumerism by frequently mentioning brand names, describing clothing styles, and stressing the household comfort possible through the purchase of goods. As it did so, the zoot suit became a symbol, but an enigmatic one. The , with additional notes, is also available. Peiss is currently a professor of history at the University of Massachusetts. During the zoot suit riot, servicemen coursed through the streets of Los Angeles seeking Mexican American youths in zoot suits, beating them, and stripping the clothes off their backs. Vaudeville theaters and movie halls appealed to the masses. Her most recent book is Zoot Suit: The Enigmatic Career of an Extreme Style 2011 , which received the 2012 Millia Davenport Publication Award of the Costume Society of America.
As businesses sought ways to insure and enlarge consumer demand, they embraced new styles of merchandising, display, packaging, and advertising. Peiss notes that with the advent of photography in 1839, people began to see themselves in a new and suddenly permanent way. As a whole field, in the nation, they don't call it home economics. Belmont had refused to allow her picture to run, concerned that her prestige and reputation would diminish if she was seen as a shill. Yet there is no doubt that she was the driving, creative force at the company. Walter Thompson reveals the underlying tensions in the social definition of women as consumers. Here she discusses how those who observed the suit, but often did not wear it, such as journalists, songwriters and animators utilized the suit to make commentary on American life during a time of war.