The History of Women Smokers on the Pages of Vogue, 1920s-1960s

In 2007, Cheryl Kransnick Warsh and Penny Tinkler wrote a historical article for Canadian bulletin of medical history, titled “In Vogue: North American and British Representations of Women Smokers in Vogue, 1920s-1960s.” This article studies “the image of a cigarette in a women’s hand” in the content of North American and British editions of Vogue from the 1920s-1960s and observes the smoking culture of women in response to “social, economic, and political changes, as well as the initiatives and fortunes of the tobacco industry.”

After the Great War, the alignment of smoking with “Parisian haute couture” established the equation of smoking and feminine elitism. However, the “powerful connection between smoking and sophistication” gradually shifted since 1930s. Most notably in 1950s America during Cold War, the highlife of fashionable elites was increasingly domesticated. Along with the disappearance of women smokers from the pages of Vogue, the confidence, which was the symbol for women smokers, was increasingly confined within a restrictive heterosexual framework. 

As Mad Men recreates the society in 1960s New York, the audience observes the roles of women in this era. Especially, the smoking culture of women in Mad Men is comparable to the historical context from the journal, written by Warsh and Tinkler. Betty Draper (January Jones), as a housewife character, represents the transition of smoking culture from the sophisticated highlife to domesticated, middle-class life. While, Joan Harris (Christina Hendricks)’s habit of smoking characterizes her as a typical representation of independent and confidant female workers in 1960s New York.

The article traces the historical context of women smokers and explains the roles of women observed through smoking culture on the pages of Vogue. Mad Men depicts smoking of different female characters, representing the diversified status of women, which is one of the big themes in Mad Men season 1. Even though the journal is not directly related to Mad Men, it helps the audience to understand the implication of female characters smoking in 1960s society, reconstructed in Mad Men.

Warsh, Cheryl Krasnick C. K., and Penny P. Tinkler. "In Vogue: North American and British Representations of Women Smokers in Vogue, 1920s-1960s." Canadian bulletin of medical history = Bulletin canadien d'histoire de la médecine 24.1 (2007): 9-47. ProQuest Natural Science Collection. Web. 4 Oct. 2012.

No comments:

Post a Comment