Learning to be female is a lifelong process of education, being guided into each new stage of life along a cultural path shaped by beliefs about aging, class, and race as well as gender. We learn to continually measure our selves against socially-constructed and learned images of the female and standards of femininity.
So far, I have collected and examined images of girls’ clothing from Sears catalogs (1949-1959) and etiquette books from the same era, including those written for children. I have begun to gather information about Halloween costumes and clothing used for dress up play. Still to be done:
- paper dolls
- dolls, especially fashion dolls (Barbie was introduced in 1959)
- Celebrities, heroines, and role models from books, movies, and TV
- School photos (individual and group)
- Our mothers’ styles and their influence (including mother-daughter fashions)
- Our grandmothers’ styles and their influence (gifts, photos, memories)
What am I leaving out? What sources would be useful and what questions do I need to be asking?