Some Wore Bobby Sox: The Emergence of Teenage Girls' Culture, 1920-1945

Overview

Images of teenage girls in poodle skirts dominated American popular culture on the 1950's. But as Kelly Schrum shows, teenage girls were swooning over pop idols and using their allowances to buy the latest fashions well beforehand. After World War I, a teenage identity arose in the US, as well as a consumer culture geared toward it. From fashion and beauty to music and movies, high school girls both consumed and influenced what manufacturers, marketers, and retailers offered to them. Examining both national ...

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Overview

Images of teenage girls in poodle skirts dominated American popular culture on the 1950's. But as Kelly Schrum shows, teenage girls were swooning over pop idols and using their allowances to buy the latest fashions well beforehand. After World War I, a teenage identity arose in the US, as well as a consumer culture geared toward it. From fashion and beauty to music and movies, high school girls both consumed and influenced what manufacturers, marketers, and retailers offered to them. Examining both national trends and individual lives, Schrum looks at the relationship between the power of consumer culture and the ability of girls to selectively accept, reject, and appropriate consumer goods. Lavishly illustrated with images from advertisements, catalogs, and high school year books, Some Wore Bobby Sox is a unique and fascinating cultural history of teenage girl culture in the middle of the century.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"Some Wore Bobby Sox is a lively and insightful exploration of the interplay between an emergent teenage girls' identity and the growth of a teenage girls' market in the decades before World War II. Kelly Schrum makes a significant contribution to our understanding of several dynamic areas of research--studies of girls and girlhood, American popular culture, and consumer culture."--Kathy Peiss, author of Hope in a Jar: The Making of America's Beauty Culture

"By using a wide variety of sources, Kelly Schrum provides us with the first convincing examination of female teenage culture as it began to form in the 1920s, 1930s, and 1940s. This spirited book is written with verve and insight. It clearly defines the historical issues as it demonstrates how teenagers used an evolving consumer market to fashion their own collective and individual identities, and how commercial and other interests moved to contain and direct young women. This is an illuminating study of an important modern age group that deserves to be widely read."--Paula Fass, author of Kidnapped: Child Abduction in America and editor of Childhood in America

"This book is riveting and absorbing. Like Kathy Peiss and Paula Fass, Kelly Schrum is doing ground-breaking work in popular culture and gender. Some Wore Bobby Sox is destined to be a key addition to the field of girls' cultural studies. It is hard to think of anyone curious about girls' and women's lives who wouldn't find this lively study fascinating."--Sherrie Inness,author/editor of Delinquents and Debutantes: Twentieth-Century American Girls' Cultures and Action Chicks
"Clearly written, amply illustrated with rare source material, and full fascinating illuminations of a history we have barely begun to learn, this book is ideal for undergraduates and advanced scholars alike and makes a substantial contribution to the growing field of girls' studies."--Ilana Nash, Western Michigan University

Library Journal
It's hard to imagine a time when there were no teenagers and teen culture. Yet only during the 20th century did marketers, manufacturers, and the media begin to consider this age group a separate stage of life, let alone a segment of the population that had its own consumer culture. Schrum (assistant director, Ctr. for History & New Media, George Mason Univ.) addresses the advent of the teenage consumer culture in the United States-particularly that of teenage girls. Studying the decades following World War I through World War II, Schrum shows how the business world and the media industries of that period started to focus on teens as consumers of clothes, cosmetics, music, and other products. She explains that certain social factors also influenced the rise of teen consumerism. For example, the increase in high school attendance exposed teens to other teens, and the subsequent cliques and peer pressure that developed greatly drove consumer preferences. Fashion fads like bobby sox and saddle shoes, crooners like Frank Sinatra, and movie idols like Judy Garland are just some examples Schrum uses to illustrate the importance of consumer goods, the mass media, and commercial entertainment to teen life. By studying period magazines-particularly ladies' publications and newly created girls' magazines like Seventeen-the author uncovers how teenage consumer behavior helped to shape the teen experience. Photographs, advertisements, and illustrations are generously sprinkled throughout the text, making for a delightful cultural history. For all libraries, especially larger public libraries with popular culture collections and academic libraries with American studies and women's studies collections.-Donna Marie Smith, Palm Beach Cty. P.L. Syst., FL Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781403961761
  • Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan
  • Publication date: 6/26/2004
  • Series: Girls' History and Culture Series
  • Edition description: First Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 224
  • Product dimensions: 6.36 (w) x 9.44 (h) x 1.04 (d)

Meet the Author

Kelly Schrum is Assistant Director of the Center for History and New Media, and Assistant Research Professor, Department of History and Art History, at George Mason University.

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Table of Contents

Introduction
• Defining Teenage Girls
• Fashion Meets Teenage Girls and Girls Meet Fashion
• "Good Looks": Commercialized Beauty and Health
• "Damn Good Jazz": Music, Radio, and Dance
• "A Guiding Factor in My Life": Teenage Girls and Movies
• Conclusion

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