PORTRAIT OF THE ALL-AMERICAN GIRL IN TIME: THE CONTRADICTIONS BETWEEN 1950S GENDER IDEOLOGY AND STYLE IN 'SEVENTEEN' MAGAZINE
The augthor examines the ideal of adolescent femininity constructed by the 'Seventeen' magazine in the decade of the 1950s. 'Seventeen', first published in 1944, was the first periodical directed at teenage girls during the postwar era, and has until today remained the most popular. From its immediate inception during World War II it promoted a vision of the American girl as independent, and spoke out against gender inequality, much in keeping with the war emergency government propaganda of the time. However, by the 1950s 'Seventeen' had been transformed from an organ that endorsed the emancipation of women from traditional gender roles to one that fully promoted the role of housewife as the single legitimate goal for young women. This was in accordance with the prevailing theories that emerged after the war as to women's natural inclination to domesticity and motherhood, and the feminine ideal that appeared with it. To this, Seventeen added a consciously constructed ideal of adolescent femininity that its readers were expected to conform to, existing within the confines of a larger gender ideology that placed boys in a dominant position and encouraged physical beautification and allure. This paper explores 'Seventeen's' adolescent feminine ideal and its roots, and also examines the contradictions between its emphasis on chastity and innocence, and the sexually charged clothing and make up styles that young women were urged to adopt within 'Seventeen's' pages.
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