Saturday, March 27, 2010

Fashion Plates

Fashion plates are an interesting example of the ways in which caricature can represent the values and ideals of a society and, or time period. In the 19th and 20th century, these images/caricatures of women were printed in popular magazines such as Lady's Home Journal. They served as a template for women of society, depicting ways in which a woman should dress, act, and the activities she should carry out. The first drawing really represents the value of domesticity and family life, presenting women as a mother and a nurturer, holding the most value within the home, caring and providing for her family and children. Since women of the time were not believed to have the logical ability and intelligence needed in order to carry out important jobs such as a doctor, lawyer or running any sort of business, her 'proper' duties were mainly carried out within the home. The inclusion of a musical instrument in both the first and third caricature also represent another way in which women were valued at the time. Having some knowledge and involvement with music was seen as being proper and important for women. The second and third caricatures represent a common belief of women being very passive. This passiveness is shown in the expressions on the women's faces and their body with a sense of confidence or authority. The woman playing the instrument looks somewhat hesitant in her abilities. She is also somewhat over sexualized in her dress, representing the portrayal of women in art as sexual objects of the male gaze. At the time, women were scene as inferior to men, and these indications within the fashion plates of the time period hold true to this idea.

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