"A Well-Made-Up Woman”: Aesthetics and Conformity in Postwar France

Title"A Well-Made-Up Woman”: Aesthetics and Conformity in Postwar France
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2015
AuthorsColvin, Kelly Ricciardi
JournalFrench Historical Studies
Date Published10/2015

This article examines the relationships among female respectability, aesthetics, and national belonging in the wake of World War II. This was a time of tumult, and the French sought order through conformity. This conformity had much to do with conservative gender roles. The article analyzes images of female beauty and love in the feminine press. A complex reading of these images reveals an intriguing subtext: a woman needed to conform to certain images of respectable femininity, which included a properly feminine appearance and, perhaps most important, a satisfied man at her side. Articles in women's magazines warned that a woman's failure to conform to such standards would result in ostracism and a lifetime of loneliness. This article posits that establishing these strict guidelines for women was crucial to reinstating a sense of male virility and control in France after the chaos of war. [French Historical Studies]

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