New PDF release: Consuming Angels: Advertising and Victorian Women

By Lori Anne Loeb

Timid and retiring, the Victorian housewife was once an "angel within the house," or so says the stereotype. but if this angel picked up a well-liked magazine--The girl, for instance--she observed in its ads pictures of Grecian goddesses, girls warriors, queens, actresses, adventurers. those arrestingly sexual and strangely strong pictures are the topic of eating Angels, a massive exam of the way Victorian advertisements formed social values. Stylishly written and that includes seventy three reproductions, this publication exhibits how advertisements used the hedonistic features of Victorian tradition to promote their wares, glorified consumerism, and mythologized the middle-class existence. photographs of competitive girls, Loeb exhibits, performed good to either women and men. And finally, those advertisements helped bring in the 20th century with the production of a brand new group: the group of shoppers.

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Extra info for Consuming Angels: Advertising and Victorian Women

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By 1890 fashion advertisements were clearly among the most visually arresting in the Victorian periodical press. The increasingly glamorous fashion advertisement suggests a heightened consumer interest in the pleasures of personal ornament and in the pleasures of the social use of the middle-class figure, especially the female figure, for display and status enhancement. It also offers a stilted, but stylish view of the angel of the house, one that emphasizes leisure and conspicuous affluence rather than redemptive purity.

These advertisements suggest that the ideal woman was self-absorbed and pleasure-oriented enough to delight in her own reflection. But the woman in the mirror motif also reinforced a commercial ideal of the Victorian woman as an ornament. Moreover, it confirmed the expectation that a middle-class woman should possess sufficient leisure arid affluence to invest considerable time, effort, and money in her quest for beauty. But even in her more responsible roles commercial depictions emphasize the Victorian woman's access to leisure.

The father's importance in the sphere of action physically distanced him from the gentleness of the domestic sphere. His commanding presence, amplified in mid-Victorian advertisements, was ultimately replaced by an image of feminine competence. Advertisements throughout the late Victorian period stressed the importance of the womb-like protection of the home. Defensively, the family, as prescriptive literature suggests, turned inward, and its reluctance to confront the frequent ugliness of the outside world is even given physical manifestation.

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