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Zelda Fitzgerald is the most recognizable name of the group, but most know her exclusively as the somewhat-crazed wraith from Hemingway’s “A Moveable Feast.” But before she was a Fitzgerald, she was Zelda Sayre, with a beauty and vivaciousness so powerful that when she showed up at a dance, all the other girls would give up and go home. After marrying Scott, she not only became his primary muse but the source of many of his most lingering descriptions of 1920s life: He regularly culled her journals, letters, and everyday conversation for the phrases that would gradually become the language with which we describe the ’20s.
But not all of these flappers were white and wealthy: African-American Josephine Baker grew up dirt poor in St, Louis before her mother arranged her marriage, at age 12, to a man twice her age in order to circumvent her burgeoning sexuality, Baker would flee that husband and marry another at 15, but the men were just a means to an escape, the stage and freedom, Baker, however, was no ordinary showgirl: Even when performing the role of a black stereotype, she inflected it with a complexity that made her, in one producer’s words, “stand out like an exclamation point.” But alice in wonderland ballet pointe shoes bag it wasn’t until she went to France that Baker truly made her name and experienced what it meant to not only be venerated, but (relatively) free from prejudice based on the color of her skin..
If these stories sound tantalizing, it’s because each flapper’s early rebellion and rise to prominence reads as swiftly, and juicily, as the best celebrity gossip, punctuated with lusty affairs (with men and women alike), casual drug use, and the jubilant pleasures of youth. Relying (perhaps a bit too heavily) on previously published biographies and memoirs, Mackrell tells these women’s stories as if they were her intimates, referring to them exclusively by their first names. It’s no coincidence these narratives resemble today’s celebrity gossip, as these women — socialites, actresses, and artists — were celebrities par excellence, with images that were an uneven accumulation of their own (often progressive) intentions and actions and the ways the press chose to frame them: usually a mix of the superficial and the titillating, with little room for context or nuance. Once these images were formed, they could become paralyzing: Mackrell describes the Fitzgeralds as “captive to their own image” of excess, frivolity, and Jazz Age living, leading to perpetual problems with money and, by extension, their relationship and Zelda’s mental health.
When you become such a public figure, do you live your own life or the life others want for you? It’s an existential question, no less pertinent today than it was in the 1920s, but these women’s struggles to find an answer alice in wonderland ballet pointe shoes bag would, in many ways, tear them apart, The first six chapters of Flappers tell the intoxicating tales of each woman’s rise, but the next six chapters track their declines, as predictable as a rerun of “E! True Hollywood Story,” replete with depression, heartbreak, drug abuse and loneliness, Particularly striking is the disgust with which several of the women greeted news of pregnancy — as a threat not only to their bodies, which would no longer fit the svelte, boy-like fashions of the time, but to their social relevance, Sex could be liberating, but it was also destructive: Several women endured painful, dangerous abortions; others suffered from chronic STDs; nearly all tried to negotiate the balance between an “open” mind toward sexual adventure and partners who manipulated and betrayed them..
These women’s images were rooted in scandal — not for any single action, but for their sustained violation of ideological norms of what a woman should do, how she should act, and what she could dream for herself. Historically, scandal has functioned as a wedge-driver: When someone violates the status quo, we get up in arms, but we also make the scandalous act speakable. Yet even as scandal opens the door to eventual change, it always demands immediate redress: someone must be punished, however symbolically. Nancy Cunard may have changed minds when she dated a black jazz musician, but not the ones closest to her; she was effectively banished from her family and high society.
And as glamorous and fancy-free as these women were at the height alice in wonderland ballet pointe shoes bag of their powers, they were also punished, often hideously so, After a comeback in the ’50s, Bankhead withered away to nothing, a shell of her formerly vigorous self and resentful of her camp following, Baker, after years of dancing and straightening her hair with noxious chemicals, was nearly bald and forced to bandage her legs tightly to make her way onstage, De Lempicka’s paintings went out of vogue, and she eventually retired to Houston, where she dominated and controlled her family much in the way she had been dominated and controlled herself, Fitzgerald went slowly mad in a North Carolina asylum, Manners fared the best of the six, but only because she gave up her progressive politics to become a relatively sedate housewife and hostess..
These six beguiling women were indeed part of a dangerous generation, but what’s even more dangerous — and absolutely worthy of sustained, incisive attention — is the way they, and the sexual energy that fueled them, were put in their place, ushering in years of reactionary and regressive sexual politics. Therein lies the lesson of the flapper, equally as pertinent today as in their waning days: We map our most vivid fantasies on the bodies of our female celebrities, and as those fantasies begin to sour, those selfsame bodies come to bear the bruises of our confusion and regret.
DALLAS — As part of an Allied mission tasked with saving works of art during World War II, a homesick James Rorimer told his alice in wonderland ballet pointe shoes bag wife in a December 1944 letter from liberated Paris that he was working hard but worried about how much he was achieving, “But I’m here to save works of art and that is what really matters,” he wrote, Rorimer, then 39 and a curator at New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art, went on to carry out his mission successfully, helping to discover where works of art looted by the Nazis were tucked away across Europe, He was a leading figure in a group of 350 men and women from Allied countries attached to the U.S, Army’s Monuments, Fine Arts and Archives Section, In the new movie “The Monuments Men,” Matt Damon portrays a character inspired by the real-life Rorimer, who died in 1966 at age 60..
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