Pitiful Spectacle

This vocational guide for girls was published in 1919, a year before women got the right to vote. Note that they’re talking about adults or young adults, and hardly children. I love this passage:

“We have no right to interfere with the woman’s instinct to make herself beautiful. Rather we should encourage it, and should carefully instruct her in her impressionable years as to what real beauty is. It is almost safe to say that at present the principle by which the modern woman is guided in deciding the great questions of feminine attire is imitation. Incidentally, we may remark that nobody profits by such a mistaken foundation except the manufacturer, who moves the women of the world about like pawns on a chessboard merely to benefit his business. The society woman brings the latest thing “from Paris.” The large New York establishments sell to their patrons copies of “Paris models.” The middle-class shops and the middle-class women copy the copies. The cheap shops and the poor women copy the copy of the copy. Every copy is made of less worthy material than its model, of gaudier colors, with cheaper trimmings, until we have the pitiful spectacle of girls who earn barely enough to keep body and soul together spending their money for garments neither suitable nor durable—sleazy, shabby after a single wearing, short-lived—yet for a few ephemeral minutes “up to date.””

90 years later, & nothing has changed, has it?