When women began transitioning from homemade or seamstress-made clothing to ready-to-wear, sizing was problematic from the start. Back then, many women’s sizes were centered around the hourglass ideal of a 36-inch bust, 26-inch waist and 36-inch hips. One frustrated department store executive told The New York Times in 1927, “I don’t know who the mythical size 36 is who forms the basis of sizing, but average, tall, short, thin and plump women come into a department store and the 36 size fits none of them.”
Oh this makes so much sense now:
Finally in the late 1930s, the U.S. government decided to get scientific about women’s clothing sizes and undertook the first, large-scale study of female body measurements. Employees from the U.S. Home Economics Bureau took 59 different measurements from 15,000 different women around the country. However, the data set ultimately used by the National Bureau of Standards was all-white, as measurements from participating women of color were discarded, and skewed thin since the volunteers tended to be poorer and thus, at that time, likelier to be underweight. Moreover, in the late 1940s, measurements from military women were added to the data pool, further distorting the results toward the thinnest and fittest women in the nation. In 1983, the Commerce Department finally tossed out the standardized women’s clothing sizes.
Normandy landing that you didnt see. 1944
Red Cross workers.
That is seriously the most badass thing I’ve ever seen.
… i hate to feel like asking: this is for real right?
From the Red Cross page.
LET’S TAKE A MOMENT TO ACTUALLY THANK THE PEOPLE WHO GAVE US THIS FREEODM.
I don’t care what your political beliefs are, these men and women are heroes
Nope. My mother and the universe gave me freedom. These people are pawns of imperialism, and regularly destabilize the growth and happiness of much of the world.
LET’S TAKE A MOMENT TO ACTUALLY THANK THE PEOPLE WHO GAVE US THIS FREEODM (SIC).”
YEAH LET’S DO THAT
At a time like this, scorching irony, not convincing argument, is needed. O! had I the ability, and could reach the nation’s ear, I would, to-day, pour out a fiery stream of biting ridicule, blasting reproach, withering sarcasm, and stern rebuke. For it is not light that is needed, but fire; it is not the gentle shower, but thunder. We need the storm, the whirlwind, and the earthquake. The feeling of the nation must be quickened; the conscience of the nation must be roused; the propriety of the nation must be startled; the hypocrisy of the nation must be exposed; and its crimes against God and man must be proclaimed and denounced.
What, to the American slave, is your 4th of July? I answer; a day that reveals to him, more than all other days in the year, the gross injustice and cruelty to which he is the constant victim. To him, your celebration is a sham; your boasted liberty, an unholy license; your national greatness, swelling vanity; your sounds of rejoicing are empty and heartless; your denunciation of tyrants, brass fronted impudence; your shouts of liberty and equality, hollow mockery; your prayers and hymns, your sermons and thanksgivings, with all your religious parade and solemnity, are, to Him, mere bombast, fraud, deception, impiety, and hypocrisy-a thin veil to cover up crimes which would disgrace a nation of savages. There is not a nation on the earth guilty of practices more shocking and bloody than are the people of the United States, at this very hour.
Frederick Douglass, The Meaning of July Fourth for the Negro, delivered at Rochester, New York, July 5, 1852
This is one of the most brilliant pieces of American oratory ever written. People always quote that second paragraph, but I think the key to understanding the speech is in the previous one. Besides being beautifully written (despite his moment of mock humility near the beginning) and stirring, this speech is bitterly funny. His “scorching irony” is really the only way a man in his position could have remarked on the murderous hypocrisies of the social, political, economic, and religious establishment (his comments on the church remain entirely relevant today) that sustained slavery.
Every July 4th celebration ought to follow the obligatory reading aloud of the Preamble to the Declaration of Independence with Douglass’ speech.
“Known as the Motorcycle Queen of Miami, Bessie Stringfield started riding when she was 16. She was the first African-American woman to travel cross-country solo, and she did it at age 19 in 1929, riding a 1928 Indian Scout. Bessie traveled through all of the lower 48 states during the ’30s and ’40s at a time when the country was rife with prejudice and hatred. She later rode in Europe, Brazil, and Haiti and during World War II she served as one of the few motorcycle despatch riders for the United States military.”
Once upon a time, we know, there really were knights and castles and quests, and maps whose blank spaces warned of dragons and magic. That being so, a medieval fantasy novel only needs to convince us that the old myths were true; that wizards and witches existed, and that monsters really did populate the wilds. Everything else that’s dissonant with modern reality – the clothes, the customs, the social structure – must therefore constitute a species of historical accuracy, albeit one that’s liberally seasoned with poetic license, because that vague, historical blueprint is what we already have in our heads.
But what happens when our perception of historical accuracy is entirely at odds with real historical accuracy? What happens when we mistake our own limited understanding of culture – or even our personal biases – for universal truths? What happens, in other words, when we’re jerked out of a story, not because the fantastic elements don’t make sense, but because the social/political elements strike us as being implausible on the grounds of unfamiliarity?
The answer tends to be as ugly as it is revealing: that it’s impossible for black, female pirates to exist anywhere, that pixies and shapeshifters are inherently more plausible as a concept than female action heroes who don’t get raped, and that fairy tale characters as diverse as Mulan, Snow White and Captain Hook can all live together in the modern world regardless of history and canon, but a black Lancelot in the same setting is grossly unrealistic. On such occasions, the recent observation of Pulitzer Prize-winning author Junot Diaz that “Motherfuckers will read a book that’s 1/3rd elvish, but put two sentences in Spanish and they (white people) think we’re taking over” is bitingly, lamentably accurate.
Foz Meadows is fabulous, also I think I could read about real life female pirates all damn day.
This whole piece is well researched too, so it should come in handy the next time you hear a straight/cis/white/male nerd say something problematic (and since they really seem to enjoy spewing toxic nonsense, that will probably be soon).
George Augustus Polgreen Bridgetower
October 1778 - February 1860
“his talent is one of the best replies one can give to philosophers who wish to deprive people of his nation and his colour of the opportunity to distinguish themselves in the arts”.
Taken from the journal Le Mercure de France; Paris 1789.
Well this is interesting. It makes you wonder what might’ve been:
…[Bridgetower] visited Vienna later in 1803, where he performed with Ludwig van Beethoven. Beethoven was impressed, and dedicated his great Violin Sonata No. 9 in A major (Op.47) to Bridgetower, with the goodheartedly mocking dedication [downlo: yeah right] Sonata per un mulattico lunatico. Barely finished, the piece received its first public performance at the Augarten Theatre on 24 May 1803, with Beethoven on pianoforte and Bridgetower on violin. Bridgetower had to read the violin part of the second movement from Beethoven’s copy, over his shoulder. He made a slight amendment to his part, which Beethoven gratefully accepted, jumping up to say “Noch einmal, mein lieber Bursch!” (“Once more, my dear fellow!”). Beethoven also presented Bridgetower with his tuning fork, now held by the British Library. The pair fell out soon afterwards, Bridgetower having insulted a woman who turned out to be Beethoven’s friend; Beethoven broke off all relations with Bridgetower and changed the dedication of the new violin sonata to the violin virtuoso Rudolphe Kreutzer, who never played it, saying that it had already been performed once and was too difficult — the piece is now known as the Kreutzer Sonata. The Pulitzer-prize winning poet Rita Dove dramatized the relationship between Beethoven and Bridgetower in the book-length lyric narrative Sonata Mulattica.
The New York Times has a very interesting piece about Dove’s book:
Haydn almost certainly encountered him as a child in a Hungarian castle, where the boy’s father was a servant and Haydn was the director of music, and Thomas Jefferson saw him performing in Paris in 1789: a 9-year-old biracial violin prodigy with a cascade of dark curls. While the boy would go on to inspire Beethoven and help shape the development of classical music, he ended up relegated to a footnote in Beethoven’s life.
Rita Dove, the Pulitzer Prize-winning former United States poet laureate, has now breathed life into the story of that virtuoso, George Augustus Polgreen Bridgetower, in her new book, “Sonata Mulattica” (W. W. Norton). The narrative, a collection of poems subtitled “A Life in Five Movements and a Short Play,” intertwines fact and fiction to flesh out Bridgetower, the son of a Polish-German mother and an Afro-Caribbean father.
Bridgetower’s story is a corrective to the notion that certain cultural forms are somehow the province of particular groups, said Mike Phillips, a historian, novelist and former museum curator who contributed a series of essays to part of the British Library’s Web site (at www.bl.uk/onlinegallery/features/blackeuro) that profiles five 19th-century figures of mixed European and African heritage, including Bridgetower, Alexandre Dumas and Pushkin. He also wrote the libretto for “Bridgetower: A Fable of London in 1807,” an opera in jazz and classical musica performed by the English Touring Opera, which had its premiere in 2007 in London.
“Bridgetower flourished in a time when the world outside Africa was like a huge concentration camp for black people,” Dr. Phillips said…He noted that while Bridgetower got a music degree at Cambridge and managed to earn a living as a musician, for much of his life the trans-Atlantic slave trade was at full throttle.
While little of his work survives today, Bridgetower associated with some of the major musicians of his time, including Giovanni Viotti, the violin virtuoso, and Samuel Wesley, the organist and composer…
Moreover…Bridgetower was crucial to the establishment of the Royal Academy of Music. This institution was the central influence on, and regulator of, Britain’s musical history at a time when the forms and structures of modern classical music were being invented, along with new instruments that produce the sounds heard in contemporary concert halls.