The Allender Girl
The cartoon "Changing Fashion -- She Used to be Satisfied with So Little," first appeared in The Suffragist in March, 1915. The cartoon captures Allender’s famous knack for promoting the feminine suffragist. The cartoon features an astonished looking man concerned with the extravagant, beautiful dress of a suffragist labeled “National Constitutional Amendment.” The suffragist has the names of several states hanging from her hat and belt, indicating that she has many states in the sights of her suffrage aims. The upper right corner showcases the style of 1884, which only has the states Montana and Wyoming on her dress. The cartoon suggests that suffragists are going to keep pushing for suffrage until they achieve a federal amendment. The appearance of the suffragist is extremely significant because she is youthful and well-dressed. Allender played with existing standards of beauty to suggest that suffragists could easily fit that mold. Even though the suffragist pictured is ambitious in her aims for national
enfranchisement, she does not appear pushy, bossy, or shrewd. She instead, reflects popular views of how women should carry themselves. In her cartoons, Allender presents a vision of suffragists that fits very much into the
cultural, gender norms of the Progressive Era.
The Allender Girl developed from the older existing model of beauty that had come to dominate advertisements of the age. To create a character who espoused the values, virtues, and beauties of the age, Allender took inspiration from the quintessential ‘it’ girl from the 1890s-1920s – the Gibson Girl. The Girl had pouty lips, a button nose, white skin, groomed eyebrows, a slender frame, newest fashions and radiant youth. She rose to prominence with the innovation of ready to wear clothing for women. As clothing manufacturers sought to sell new designs every year, the advertising world developed “the standardized woman’s features… ubiquitous, presenting the one look that reiterated a particular year’s view of perfection.”
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