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International Women's Day!

Bloomers

Amelia Jenks Bloomer (May 27, 1818 – December 30, 1894) -

wearing the famous "bloomer" costume named after her (a tunic + "pantelettes")

Happy International Women's Day to all you incredible females out there!  There are so many women I admire, adore, and want to be when I grow up.  Today I wanted to honor someone who not everyone may know.  The women's rights activist and temperance advocate Amelia Jenks Bloomer (May 27, 1818 – December 30, 1894) whom "Bloomers" take their name from.  Also called the bloomer, they were developed in the 19th century as a healthful and comfortable alternative to the heavy, constricting dresses worn by American women.  Even though she did not create the women's clothing reform style known as bloomers, her name became associated with it because of her early and strong advocacy.  She became the first woman to own, operate and edit a newspaper for women called The Lily.  She stated: "It (The Lily) was a needed instrument to spread abroad the truth of a new gospel to woman, and I could not withhold my hand to stay the work I had begun. I saw not the end from the beginning and dreamed where to my propositions to society would lead me."In her publication, Bloomer promoted a change in dress standards, and a need for dress reform, for women that would be less restrictive in regular activities: "the costume of women should be suited to her wants and necessities. It should conduce at once to her health, comfort, and usefulness; and, while it should not fail also to conduce to her personal adornment, it should make that end of secondary importance."  Can I get a hallelujah!!!  

The Bloomer became a symbol of women's rights in the early 1850s.  Also in 1851, Bloomer introduced the suffragettes Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony to each other.   Being a completely new and distinctively different form of dress, the bloomer garment also provided women with a metaphorical freedom, in the sense that it gave women not only more diverse dress options, but also the opportunity and power to choose their type of garment.  According to Wikipedia, the same women—Elizabeth Cady StantonLucy Stone, and Susan B. Anthony—who adopted the new form of dress also advocated women's right to vote. These women preferred to call their new style the "freedom dress."  During the late 19th century, athletic bloomers (also known as "rationals" or "knickerbockers") were skirt-less baggy knee-length trousers, fastened to the leg a little below the knees; at that time, they were worn by women only in a few narrow contexts of athletic activity, such as bicycle-riding, gymnastics, and sports other than tennis (see 1890s in fashion). Bloomers became shorter by the late 1920s.  In the 1930s, it became respectable for women to wear pants and shorts in a wider range of circumstances. 

Less than 100 years ago women couldn't wear pants people!!!  I wear pants everyday! I truly could to imagine a world where I was not allowed the freedom to wear whatever the heck I wanted to.  Each and every day.  I would be incensed and angry and definitely would have been advocating right next to Amelia and all those other women fighting for women's rights way back then.  Thank you, Amelia for paving the way, for starting the evolution of women's clothing, and for even making my Pipers a reality!  The evolution of women's clothing, and specifically women's underwear and boxer shorts, have come a long way!  And now because of My Pipers, Boxer shorts are now made for GIRLS!  Girls no long have to wear boys boxers shorts; we reinvented them for us girls.  Maybe we will be in Wikipedia one day too? 

 

 

 

-1890s caricature of athletic bloomers  History of Woman Suffrage, 1: 815.

References:

  1. Greig, Catherine Smith & Cynthia (2003). Women in pants: manly maidens, cowgirls, and other renegades. New York: H.N. Abrams. p. 28. ISBN978-0810945715.
  2. Fischer, Gayle V. (2001). Pantaloons and Power: Nineteenth-Century Dress Reform in the United States. Kent, Ohio: Kent State University Press. pp. 79–80.
  3.  Noun, Louise, "Amelia Bloomer, A Biography, Part I, The Lily of Seneca Falls
  4. Wikipedia "Amelia Bloomer"

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