Sunday, May 16, 2010
The American Woman
I am incredibly elated to announce that in one week from today I will be jetting off to New York city for a 5-day trip with my dad. This plan was made less than two weeks ago and ever since then I have been counting down the days till we leave. The main reason I am going is to see an exhibit that is currently showing from the Costume Institute at the Metropolitan Museum of Art called "American Woman: Fashioning a National Identity." Ever since I started reading about this I have been aching to see it, so the the fact that I actually get to feels like a dream! The exhibit reveals the American female archetypes from the 1890's through the 1940's, such as the Heiress, the Gibson Girl, the Patriot, the Flapper, and the Screen Siren which, "Together," says curator Andrew Bolton, "they constitute what we now see as American style."
So, this exhibition lead me to ask myself and to pose the question to all of you, what is the American woman? What about her style defines her? What is your personal idea of what makes up her identity? Are there specific women you can come up with that fit this description? To me, the true American woman is confident and true to herself and her style. She breaks down barriers and changes negative stereotypes for women and dresses for her individual personality. To narrow down my definition of this national identity, I will bring up a few woman who I consider iconic examples of who the American woman is and why I think they deserve the title.
I cannot believe that I just saw Funny Girl for the first time in my life. In my opinion, this classic is a MUST SEE! From the very beginning, I fell in love with Barbra Streisand's character Fanny Brice, a girl from the Jewish slums in New York with dreams of becoming a "Zigfield girl," a star of the stage. The combination of her slapstick humor and quick wit leaves you wanting more at the end of the movie. I loved the extravagant (and quite often over-the-top) costuming and even liked many of the musical numbers. Fanny Brice, to me, is an example of the all American woman with her witty and gregarious personality and amazing confidence. As these costume tests show, her style is bold and full of surprises while being polished and glamorous. In a way, her fearless and eccentric style reflects her personal character and strength to withstand almost anything, even heartbreak.
Carrie, Miranda, Charlotte, and Samantha, the fabulous foursom from Sex and the City in many ways changed how we view the modern day American woman. Though their dialogue and lifestyle in my opinion, quite often crosses the line from uninhibited and liberated to just plain vulgar, I have to say that thanks to Carrie Bradshaw and friends, the idea of a single woman in her 30's 40's and even 50's no longer has to hold a negative "old maid" stereotype, but can be seen as an independent, successful, stylish and incredibly fashion-forward woman who enjoys life with her love of the city and of course her amazing girlfriends. The show has defined New York City for millions of women and made a true star out of Sarah Jessica Parker, who, being a true New Yorker herself, I also consider to be an American Icon in both her fiercely chic and original style and her New Yorker pride.
How could I write about the American woman and a national identity without mentioning Oprah? This woman has become an international figure and the picture of female confidence and strength. Even if you're not an Oprah fan, you have to admire her dedication to her work and the huge success she has gained from it. Her biggest accomplishment in my opinion was in creating her incredible school for girls in Johannesburg, South Africa.
These are just a handful of women who, to me define the true and ever evolving American woman. What is your idea of the American woman? What is her style? I'd love feedback so please leave your comments!