Flappers were young women famed for their exuberant independence in the 1920s, pursuing a lifestyle that many at the time considered extravagant, immoral, or even dangerous. Flappers broke down boundaries for women's economic, political, and sexual independence. They are now regarded as the first generation of self-sufficient American women.
The term "flapper" was originally used by men to describe young female dance hall patrons who wore short skirts and bobbed their hair. The actual origin of the term is unclear; some say it comes from the word "flare," which means to jump like a jack-in-the-box. However, the Oxford English Dictionary cites other possible sources for the term including "flirt" and "flax." Whatever its origin may be, the term "flapper" was soon applied to any young woman seen as too free in her behavior.
The 1920s were a time of great change for American society. The end of World War I had created an atmosphere of optimism and progressiveness that gave rise to new trends and behaviors. One such trend was the increase in female autonomy. Women were no longer expected to stay at home and care for children when they got married. They were able to go to school or work instead. Also, there was no longer a stigma against working outside the home. By the end of the decade, more than half of all women were employed full-time or part-time.
The flapper represented the newly "liberated" woman of the 1920s. Many people interpreted flappers' daring, boyish appearances and startling conduct as a sign of shifting values. Despite being untypical of American women, the flapper image promoted the notion that women now had more independence. She was no longer constrained by traditional roles or morals.
The image of the flapper first emerged in print around 1900. It was popularized by motion pictures in the late 1910s and early 1920s. The term "flapper" came from the word "flaxen," which is what girls with blond hair used to be called.
The image of the flapper was also representative of the new freedom women were enjoying because of the ending of World War I. Before this time, women's role in society was very limited. They could not go to war, vote, own property, or do many other things that men were allowed to do. But now that tradition was changing for the better!
Women before the war had little choice about what they wore. They were expected to look nice, but otherwise leave most decisions regarding their appearance up to their husbands or fathers. Now that they were given more freedom, they wanted to show off their new found liberty by wearing clothes that were revealing and fun. The image of the flapper spread across America when newspapers published photographs of young women with their hair cut in a bob or flip.
Flappers were a group of young Western women in the 1920s who wore short skirts (knee height was considered short at the time), bobbed their hair, listened to jazz, and flaunted their scorn for what was considered appropriate conduct at the time. They became a cultural phenomenon that influenced many later trends such as youth culture, hedonism, and freedom.
The term "flapper" was first used by New York newspaper editors frustrated by the number of young women wearing short dresses and making a lot of noise downtown. Before this incident, people had always called them "flirts" or "tomboys."
The original flappers were white middle-class girls from Chicago and Detroit who attended college during the week and went to school on the weekends. But because of the image they projected, the term "flapper" became associated with anything youthful and free-thinking. By the late 1920s, "flapper" had become one of the most popular terms of abuse for anyone who defied traditional gender roles.
Young men also adopted some of the behaviors of the flappers. They smoked cigarettes, drank beer, and danced the shimmy. Some even shaved off their mustaches! This is known as "masculinizing" yourself.
During World War I, many young men were drafted into the army.
First and foremost, what exactly is a flapper? The name "flapper" was applied to young, progressive Western women in the 1920s (or Roaring Twenties) who were recognized for their modern sense of style and new ideas regarding femininity, gender roles, and sexuality. They rejected old-fashioned notions of beauty and wore bold clothes that displayed an independence rarely seen before in society.
The term "flapper" was first used by New York journalists to describe young women who danced the Charleston on Broadway during Blackball Day 1919. This event was held every year on the last day of January to celebrate the end of Old Year's Day and the beginning of the New Year. The 1924 Paris Olympics were also known as the Flapper Games because of the innovative sporting events they featured. During this time, many young men were joining unions to work in factories; therefore, there was a shortage of labor. Women were being hired to work in these factories since no one wanted to do dangerous jobs with the potential for injury or death. The fact that women could work outside the home while still remaining attractive contributed to the rise in breast implants, eyelid surgeries, and other forms of cosmetic modification.
In addition to working in these factories, young women were also taking advantage of other opportunities presented to them by this era.
Flappers were adolescent girls and young women who rebelled against the organized society in which they were nurtured, taking charge of their own lives and sexualities, working, and using their right to vote. They went to jazz clubs, petting parties (making-out or foreplay), and speakeasies. Some even became famous for being beautiful but corrupting.
The Gatsby was a dance hall in downtown Detroit where many flappers danced to popular music recorded by black artists. The venue opened in 1916 and closed in 1929 when it was destroyed by fire. It is now a museum called the Grand Bohemian Hotel.
During World War I, gas shortages caused prices to rise, limiting consumers' ability to spend money on frivolous items. This cause and effect relationship between gas shortage and increased price led to a decline in sales of automobiles. The Flapper Movement began as early as 1917 when General Motors introduced new models with more efficient designs that fit into smaller spaces. These factors contributed to the demise of the Flapper Movement when peace returned to America in 1918.
In conclusion, the Flapper Movement was one of the first signs that female sexuality was becoming acceptable during this time period. Young women were able to work, go to school, and participate in social events without worrying about what role they might be expected to play.