The Modern Girl Around the World

The Modern Girl Around the World: Consumption, Modernity, and Globalization

“What identified Modern Girls was their use of specific commodities and their explicit eroticism…adorned in provocative fashions, in pursuit of romantic love, Modern Girls appeared to disregard roles of dutiful daughter, wife, and mother” (Weinbaum, et al. 1).

In this anthology of essays, Alys Eve Weinbaum, Lynn M Thomas, Priti Ramamurthy, Uta G. Poiger, Madeline Yue Dong, and Tani E Barlow use the Modern Girl as a heuristic to examine the history of modern capitalism and its connections to gender. By examining the deployment of the “Modern Girl” constructed by advertising, they are able to complicate the history of global capitalism, particularly in the years between the World Wars.

The implications of this marketing trope–the sexy Modern Girl–simultaneously around the globe are pretty compelling as the authors take up different aspects of commodity culture and femininity such as cosmetics advertising and race, working class femininity, women’s magazines and more. What I find especially important about this methodology is the way that it explicitly links commodity culture and advertising not only to the way they have shaped gender, but also to colonialism, race, and morphing geopolitics over the twentieth-century.

More to come as I get further through the book…


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