Women of 1917 – The First Flappers !
by Winona Wilcox – first published in 1917.
The Flapper – a young bird unable to take flight.
“Flapper” will no doubt prove the most abused word in the list of 1917 names of feminine types. We Americans do remarkable stunts with other people’s languages: we change the final “o” in kimono to an “a” and congratulate ourselves on improving ancient Japanese: we pronounce the first syllable of lingerie as if it were spelled “long” and feel that no Parisian could do better; and we have already misconstrued the English flapper before we have become acquainted with the true type.
The Origin of the Flapper.
The “flapper” originated in England around 1906. She is just becoming known in this country, mainly as having given a smart name to certain fashions for girls. In her native land – i.e England; the flapper is an honest, talkative, critical and very active girl, 15 or 16 years old. She has no respect whatever for her brother’s opinions ans she makes fun of his friends or quarrels with them.
And she is not the least sentimental, outwardly. probably the flapper does dream of herself as a Sleeping beauty, and of a Prince Charming who has already started to search the world for her; and perhaps it is because she cannot reconcile her prince with the kind of young man she knows that she is so unnecessaryily sarcastic. Her indifference to the opposite sex makes her most irritating to all young men. She is a good sportswoman, she goes in for the game and not for the clothes and often she will beat her male opponent. She takes honors in school too.
The New American Flapper.
In England – a flapper is a young bird unable to rise in flight, and was applied in newspaper article in 1906 to the new breed of young Edwardian English girls who were becoming ‘dangerously’ educated for their age and class, questioning their lack of rights – for example – the vote, and their rights to remove the corset from their clothing attire. Now in the USA, the term is being applied to a slightly older woman who has matured, is fantastically dressed, coiffured, and rouged. Young women who vulgarism – at least in the eyes of older women, the ideal image of what a young maiden should be. Make no mistake – the term “flapper” will be applied – however inaccurately – well in to the next decade, to young women who dare to “dabble” in the new fashions of breakaway designers like Madeleine Vionnet and the garcon looks of a soon to be famous Coco Chanel [ Paris ] – who dare to wear the new Hollywood influenced lip rouges in daylight hours and who court the company of men without escort or fear of consequences. !