Miss America–How Our Ideas of Beauty Have Changed

I use photos of people and places taken in the 1920s to help me describe clothing, hairstyles, and locations, indoors and out. One thing I’ve noticed is how much our ideas of beauty have changed in the past hundred years. These pictures of the first few young women to be named Miss America illustrate my point. The first thing I noticed is that these girls are not stick-thin and top-heavy; they are, well . . . rather normal in shape. Check out the following photos of Miss Americas in the Roaring Twenties. These are all attractive women, but I doubt any of them would win a beauty pageant today.

Here’s the first group of contestants for the Miss America title in 1919:

09 Sep 1922, Atlantic City, New Jersey, USA --- Original caption: Atlantic City: Mary Dague as "Miss Wheeling," Dorothy Haupt as "Miss Easton," Helen Lynch as "Miss Fall River," Ellen E. Sherr as "Miss Allentown," Paula E. Spoettle as "Miss Bridgeport," and Miss Margaret Gorman as "Miss America"--in bathing suits. --- Image by © Bettmann/CORBIS

I noticed the early Miss Americas didn’t bob their hair. Probably seemed too flapperish, too risqué, not enough Girl Next Door wholesome.

Miss America 1922

Miss America 1922

Miss America 1924

Miss America 1924

Miss America 1925

Miss America 1925

Miss America 1925, first with bobbed hair

Miss America 1925, first with bobbed hair

Miss America 1926 has long hair twisted in a popular style known as earphones. (Think princess Leia.)

Miss America 1926 has long hair twisted in a popular style known as earphones. (Think princess Leia.)

Miss America 1927

Miss America 1927

Miss America 1928

Miss America 1928

 

Miss America 1929

Miss America 1929

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Published in: on July 10, 2016 at 9:05 am  Comments (1)  
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One CommentLeave a comment

  1. The 1929 looks like garbo! You are right. The others look wholesome. But 1924 has “It”.


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