Conflicting Narratives: The New Woman in Print and in Person
The conflicting narratives in the early 20th century Ladies Home Journal, a combination of prescriptive fiction, fashion and beauty illustrations, advertisements, and advice both constrict and expand the possibilities for a woman’s personal and professional development.
Traditional 19th-century values concerning feminine virtue conflicted with the emerging influence of fashion and beauty concerns presented in magazines. Shifts in beliefs about individuality, including traditional roles for women, were influenced by the presence of magazines and ads and the opportunities to both create and purchase items of fashionable clothing. The presence of the ads and the influence were both a constraint, in terms of the pressure imposed by beauty standards and gender expectations, and a liberating opportunity for personal expression and artistry.
This exhibit compares the constructed narratives of women’s lives written for the Ladies Home Journal with biographies of women who came of age and agency in this era.
Carrie Keasler Washington University MFA-IVC: Special Collections: Exhibition and Engagement Spring 2022