The Gibson Girl And The Farm Girl

856 words - 4 pages

The dawn of the 20th century changed the perspective of the nation and introduced many different ideas and concepts. At the turn of the century, a new and influential ideal known as the “Gibson Girl” arose. The “Gibson Girl” image, created by the American illustrator Charles Gibson, represented the perfect female archetype of the era. In the first decade of the 1900s, the Gibson Girl, exuding confidence and poise, proved increasingly popular, and acted as an icon that women everywhere attempted to imitate. She eventually developed from an illustration into a reality as many girls applied the ideal to themselves. The Gibson Girl contrasted greatly with the common farm girl who, unlike the Gibson Girl, worked for a living. At first glance, one might perceive that the farm girl led a much more difficult life than the Gibson Girl. However, upon consideration, the Gibson Girl’s life proved just as demanding, if not more, than that of the farm girl, and illustrated upper-class society’s unrelenting superficiality and focus on perfection.
The Gibson Girl presented herself as the ideal upper-class woman of the early 1900s. As Charles Gibson’s icon elucidates, the Gibson Girl upheld a seemingly impossible quintessence of perfection according to Victorian society. However, in spite of the exacting strain for perfection, many viewed the Gibson Girl as joyous and carefree as this acted as part of her idealistic image. The demands of a Gibson Girl contrasted greatly with the routine demands of a farm girl, however, proved no less strenuous. Society required that the Gibson Girl maintain humility as well as self-confidence, and “remain aloof of her surroundings but not to the extent of haughtiness” (Freemen 118). Charles Gibson’s illustrations depict girls with long beautiful hair, flawless features, and perfect proportions. The constant emphasis on obtaining the ideal appearance would not only prove taxing physically but emotionally as well, further illustrating the struggles of life as a Gibson Girl in comparison to that of a farm girl. All of the Gibson Girl icon’s obligatory characteristics conveyed an unrealistic persona impossible for women to fully achieve, increasing the pressure to possess a superficial superiority. The reality behind the Gibson Girl illustrates the oppressive demand for perfection that the Victorian era placed upon women of high society, and demonstrates that the Gibson Girl’s life presents just as many difficulties as the life of a common farm girl.
Initially, a farm girl’s life appears much more difficult than the life of a wealthy Gibson Girl. The journal entry of a...

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