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“Skirts endanger the morals of the children…”
Slut-Shaming in the 1920s

July 12, 1922 In Chicago, Illinois, a woman is being arrested for defying a Chicago edict banning "abbreviated bathing suits" on beaches. Image: Bettmann/CORBIS

When I look at vintage women’s fashion, and especially vintage women’s swimwear, it always strikes me how much changed over just a few decades. The first half of the century saw suffrage and the women’s vote in North America, and you can see how society’s condemning of the female body grew more and more tenuous in the changing fashions of the day. In the early 1900s, women’s swimwear consisted of a garment, usually made of wool, that covered her from neck to knee – at least. As women’s suffrage progressed, the women who dared to wear more “revealing” garments grew in number, prompting laws to be passed around the US that prohibited “inappropriate attire” at the beach and especially on the boardwalk. Women’s swimsuits at Rockaway Beach were publicly policed by “sheriffettes,”who carried measuring tapes with them to examine the necklines and revealed thighs of young women. Women in New Jersey were arrested for wearing their stockings rolled down below the knee, and one woman walking with her husband at Ocean Parkway in Brooklyn had her skirt lifted by an officer, who correctly suspected that she was wearing a swimsuit underneath her sweater and skirt. She was charged with public indecency – although the judge threw out the charge and told the policeman he had no business lifting women’s skirts, even in the interests of public safety. By the mid-century, the swimsuit laws had relaxed and women were more free to wear what they wanted, but the photos below of police officers hounding women in decidedly modest attire is a good reminder of both how far society has come, but also how far we have to go. Let’s make every beach in North America a nude beach!

 

Bathe-4

July 12, 1922 In Chicago, Illinois, a woman is being arrested for defying a Chicago edict banning “abbreviated bathing suits” on beaches. Image: Bettmann/CORBIS

Bathe-3

1925 “Smokey” Buchanan from the West Palm Beach police force, measuring the bathing suit of Betty Fringle on Palm Beach, to ensure that it conforms with regulations introduced by the beach censors. Image: General Photographic Agency/Getty Images

 

April 1922 Chicago, Illinois - Two bathers being escorted off the beach by a police woman.

April 1922
Chicago, Illinois – Two bathers being escorted off the beach by a police woman.

1921 Chicago policewomen checking for violations of the bathing suit-length laws Image: Bettmann/CORBIS

1921
Chicago policewomen checking for violations of the bathing suit-length laws
Image: Bettmann/CORBIS

1941 Sign posted by police department stating regulations for beachgoers. Image: Alfred Eisenstaedt/Pix Inc./The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images

1941
Sign posted by police department stating regulations for beachgoers.
Image: Alfred Eisenstaedt/Pix Inc./The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images

 

July 12, 1922 In Chicago, Illinois, a woman is being arrested for defying a Chicago edict banning "abbreviated bathing suits" on beaches. Image: Bettmann/CORBIS

July 12, 1922
In Chicago, Illinois, a woman is being arrested for defying a Chicago edict banning “abbreviated bathing suits” on beaches.
Image: Bettmann/CORBIS

via Mashable

Written By

Meghan MacRae grew up in Vancouver, Canada, but spent many years living in the remote woods. Living in the shadow of grizzly bears, cougars and the other predators of the wilderness taught her about the dark side of nature, and taught her to accept her place in nature's order as their prey. She is co-founder of CVLT Nation.

5 Comments

5 Comments

  1. Minty Tea

    June 7, 2015 at 2:55 pm

    “Slut-shaming” implies that they’re being shamed for being a slut. I don’t believe any woman is a slut, or should be called a slut.

    Also your bio is hilarious.

    “Living in the shadow of grizzly bears, cougars and the other predators of the wilderness taught her about the dark side of nature, and taught her to accept her place in nature’s order as their prey”

  2. Nolan Keith Parker

    May 29, 2015 at 3:58 pm

    Tim Roth

  3. Colin Gardner

    May 29, 2015 at 11:39 am

    “Now listen Maybel! You stop this ridiculous rebellion, ya hear? These skirts and those jazz cigarettes you smoke, why my dear, they just make you look like A common floozie!”

  4. Jennerator Can

    May 29, 2015 at 7:37 am

    Whoa a! Sarah

  5. Kira Franks

    May 29, 2015 at 7:14 am

    it would have sucked major balls to live in that time period definately a reality of what hell is

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