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For other uses, see Flapper (disambiguation).
Actress Louise Brooks, 1927.
The term flapper in the 1920s referred to a "new breed" of young women who wore short skirts, bobbed their hair, listened to the new jazz music, and flaunted their disdain for what was then considered acceptable behavior. Flappers were seen as brash forwearing excessive makeup, drinking, treating sex in a casual manner, smoking, driving automobiles and otherwise flouting social and sexual norms.
Flappers had their origins in the period of liberalism, social and political turbulence and increased transatlantic cultural exchange that followed the end of the First World War, as well as the export of American jazz culture to Europe.
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|1 United States |
|2 United Kingdom |
|3 Behavior |
|4 Slang |
|5 Appearance |
|6 Cosmetics |
|7 Hair and accessories |
|9 End of the flapper era |
|10 See also |
|11 Further reading |
|12 References |
|13 External links |
Actress Alice Joyce, 1926
The first appearance of the word and image in the United States came from the popular 1920 Frances Marion movie, TheFlapper, starring Olive Thomas. Thomas had starred in a similar role in 1917, though it was not until The Flapper that the term was used. In her final movies she was seen in the flapper image. Other actresses, such as Clara Bow, Louise Brooks, Colleen Moore and Joan Crawford would soon build their careers on the same image, achieving great popularity.
In the United States, popularcontempt for Prohibition was a factor in the rise of the flapper. With legal saloons and cabarets closed, back alleyspeakeasies became prolific and popular. This discrepancy between the law-abiding, religion-based temperance movement and the actual ubiquitous consumption of alcohol led to widespread disdain for authority. Flapper independence may also have its origins in the Gibson girls of the1890s. Although that pre-war look does not resemble the flapper identity, their independence and feminism may have led to the flapper wise-cracking tenacity 30 years later.
Writers in the United States such as F. Scott Fitzgerald and Anita Loos, and illustrators such as Russell Patterson, John Held Jr., Ethel Hays andFaith Burrows popularized the flapper look and lifestyle throughtheir works, and flappers came to be seen as attractive, reckless and independent. Among those who criticized the flapper craze was writer-critic Dorothy Parker. She penned "Flappers: A Hate Song" to poke fun at the fad. The secretary of labor denounced the, "flippancy of the cigarette smoking, cocktail-drinking flapper." A Harvard psychologist reported that flappers had, "the lowest degree ofintelligence" and constituted, "a hopeless problem for educators."
A related but alternative use of the word "flapper" in the late 1920s was as a media catch word that referred to adult women voters and how they might vote differently than men their age. While the term "flapper" had multiple uses, flappers as a social group were well defined from other 1920s fads.
United KingdomThe term flapper first appears in an early Sports Illustrated magazine (not the same magazine in print today) in a two-page spread where the flapper spread her legs. It may be in reference to a young bird flapping its wings while learning to fly, or it may derive from an earlier use in northern England to mean "teenage girl" (whose hair is not yet put up), or "prostitute".
While many in the...