Remember this postcard from the other day?
I love it so much, along with all it represents.
I love the soft pastels colors, the freedom of movement and the joyous, unrestrained dance. All of these feminine attributes can be recognized and affirmed to effectively empower women.
In other words, power does not have to be male or physically strong.
There are many ways to view this scene. What some see
as ladies dancing, others see as an expression of the
Neoclassicism has been prominent in the United States during two time periods. First, after the Revolutionary War and the French Revolution, the United States and Europe were intent on recreating the grandeur of Rome and Greece by emulating classical architecture, art, clothing and design.
Neoclassical Grecian Fashions from 1780 -1820.
I have always found this period confusing to study until I finally put it together that the Empire Period in France, the Regency Period in England and the Federal Period in the Untied States are all the same, just had different names in the three countries. All of the periods featured women’s fashions with high waisted slim flowing gowns with draped colored sashes.
Neoclassical Grecian Fashions 1900 – 1920.
The second time of Neoclassicism in the United States came at the turn of the 19th to 20th centuries, up until about 1927. Feminine power seemed to break out again and gracefully assert “herself.” Appreciation for the classic feminine figure and for accentuating the breast came to prominence. Not since the previous classical period, about a hundred years before, was the breast touted and displayed along with the natural feminine form which otherwise had been corseted into unnatural shapes. Once again, women were freed from being manipulated into movement restricting silhouettes.
The Music Man musical is set in 1912 and shows the popularity
of Neoclassical female fashions and dance at that time. In
this scene, reverence for the female form is turned into a joke.
While we, perhaps, think these dresses were baring for the delight and stimulation of men, research indicates nursing and motherhood were not only accepted, but admired. Natural was in. In fact, high waisted dresses and low cut bodices made the breasts more accessible for nursing, according to the 1795-1820 in Women’s Fashion entry in Wikipedia:
“With this Classical style came the willingness to expose the breast. With the new iconography of the Revolution as well as a change in emphasis on maternal breast-feeding, the chemise dress became a sign of the new egalitarian society. The style was simple and appropriate for the comfort of a pregnant or nursing woman as the breasts were emphasized and their availability was heightened. Maternity became fashionable and it was not uncommon for women to walk around with their breasts exposed. Some women took the “fashionable maternity” a step further and wore a “six month pad” under their dress to appear pregnant.”
The feminine form and the power it contains to create life while nurturing have been revered since ancient times. Female reproductive powers are still worshiped today by less technological societies that tend also, to be matrilinear in orientation.
It is important in a world that is more technologically
structured to affirm and actively respect
women and their naturally feminine shapes.
Next in this series: Dance of the Divine Feminine