Flappers and The New American Woman- Powerpoint / Summary

By Sara R.


CHARACTERISTICS OF THE BOOK: Only Yesterday, 1931 by Frederick Lewis Allen.

  • It describes the Old Moral Code that ruled American families before the Great War.
  • Men were the breadwinners and women the guardians of morality and home.
  • Good girls learnt dos and don’ts. They did not drink alcohol or smoke.
  • With the entrance of the Eighteenth Amendment and the beginning of the twentieth Century: manufacture, transportation of alcohol and sales was against the law. - Though people still purchased bootlegging and liquor during Prohibition-.
  • The situation of women: good girls: romantic love, innocent, helpless and in need of rescuing.
  • By the 1920's : role of girl: from a good girl to a bad girl. They started smoking defiantly in public, young girls discarded their corsets and the length of the skirts changed.
  • A flapper was a woman of 15-25. They all shared similar characteristics.
  • Clothing:

    1. Dress-low cut; revealing neck and throat. Skimpy, shapeless and lightweight dress. The flapper dress took 7 yards (6 m). They worn pocket hoops to make their hips appear larger.-To enhance their bodies. They wore bustles -to exaggerate their backsides, corsets - to give an hourglass shape to their bodies. The silhouette was slim and straight -because the visual interest was woman’s legs. Thus, this was a problem for overweight woman who began wrapping their breasts and rubber girdles to flat their stomach and hips.

    2. The skirt-rose to just an inch 2.5 centimeters below her knees. -revealing their knees.

    3. She wore silk stockings twisted.


    Bob hair, shingled very close to the neck- It showed the neck and even the ears.

    What critics said about this new haircut?

    • Bruce Bliven-New Republic Magazine: “The New Nakedness”

    The Flapper’s Rebellion:

    • Confused women about their role in Society and where they truly belonged
    • Independence: mentally and economically. - The right to vote was thought to be one of the main causes for finding woman’s equality.
    • Flappers believed in equality. -They were not feminists. They had fun in social arrangements and did not worry too much about taking control over factories or industries.
    • They did what their grandmothers never did. Chewing gum, rode cars, kissed young man, smoked, drunk liquor and used slang words such as: horsefeathers and it is the cat’s meow!

    The Automobile:

    • The increase of automobiles was a conditioning element for the rebellion of the Flapper. –Thanks to Henry Ford.
    • The car gave freedom and privacy. -For snuggling and kissing escaping from their parent’s parlor.
    • Silent Movies. The image of the Flapper with actresses such as: Collen Moore and Louise Brooks appeared on the screen dancing the Charleston’s dance - People to cuddle.
    • By 1920, 400 million people went to the movies every week.