In 1922, a magazine called Flapper published the “Flapper Dictionary” and included Cosmo Hamilton’s definition of a flapper as having “a jitney body and a limousine mind.” A jitney was a cheap five cent ride, and limousines, we all know what those represent! Flapper magazine would at least be the most outspoken supporter for the flapper lifestyle at the time, but even they were aware of the reality—that flappers sold their bodies. It could be argued that the ability to sell your own body is part of a woman’s power, but at the same time it cheapens sex and your body as something you can put a number on.
Orphans of the Storm (1921)
I’ve heard the argument that killing oneself should be every individual’s right. It’s a statement I fall prey to during my darkest of days. It is true, albeit somewhat, that your body is in fact your own. It’s not so easy to defend that when you’re under a marital covenant like me, having taken an oath in front of witnesses, swearing that you are one with your spouse and that your body is not just your own. When you’re single however, most people believe that you can do whatever you want with your body in the name of liberty. The legal system, working together to protect your civil liberties, also prohibits you to enjoy certain freedoms if they have somehow proven that what you do is harmful to yourself and others. Examples of such are the usage of marijuana and steroids, drinking while driving, and prostitution.
How does selling your body for sex harm yourself and others? Unlike marijuana, prostitution is frowned upon by the majority of people, mostly because of its relation to slave trade and sex trafficking. A lot of feminists I know frown upon the act as well and for basically the same reasons why I don’t espouse to it—being harmful to your own body and demeaning to the worth of women. It is a mystery to me why it is legal to be a sex worker via pornography but not in the streets (another topic for another time). So, why did the flapper sell herself? Perhaps because it was frowned upon, and it was her goal to do what was unconventional. Mind you, not all of them involved themselves in this business, but it was the general idea that came with the culture. It could’ve been a stereotype, but all stereotypes are derived from having something happen enough.
Everything else about flapperdom it seems is a delight to feminists. It is ironic however that the corset (which I am much a fan of) was representation of structure and was abandoned by forward-thinking women including the flappers; but now, corsets are attributed to promiscuity. All I know is that it makes me feel better with my posture, my shape, and my back!
I put the below outfit together for my idealized modern day flapper, with the elements of gold, feathers, tiered skirts, layered necklaces, and a fascinator—all of which a flapper in the 1920s would’ve incorporated in her dressing. The difference with my ideal flapper is that this woman would have had a limousine body and a limousine mind. She would, as I do now, enjoy her voting rights and her position as a boss of a business, without having to resort to using her own body as sign of power.
Bag’s name is Coco by designer Lily Vasaelini and can be purchased through Minsstyle. I’m very much into black and white contrasts, striped or not, and this purse looks very pleasing. It’s also a good size and made from quality Italian leather. The dress is from Belonda who makes silk printed dresses, and this somehow made me a think of a tamer flapper Bjork with its resemblance to a dress I’ve seen her wear!
The heart locket you see up there is actually a replica of a rare Victorian vinaigrette necklace. Back in the Victorian time, women didn’t have the luxury of bathing daily, so to cover up the evidence of that fact, they would dip the pad that you see up there in scented oil and place it in the locket. They’d wear it around their necks and replace the pad as needed!
What do you like or dislike about the flapper culture?
Great Gatsby (2013)