Culture Club

The Modern Perspective: Just What Is the Identity of the American Woman?

“This is weird,” my boyfriend said as we wandered the labryinthian halls of the new Costume Institute exhibit at the Met, titled “American Woman: Fashioning a National Identity.” “Please don’t wear this,” he said, pointing to a Franklin Simon & Co. military uniform that was situated in “the Suffragists” section. And I more or less had to agree. For an exhibit that excitedly showed women as diverse (and contemporary!) as Madonna, Serena Williams, Michelle Kwan, and Grace Jones on flat screens, the clothes felt strangely unrelateable. That’s not too surprising considering all the costumes in the exhibit are pulled from between 1890 to 1940, and focuses on your usual stereotypes that, believe it or not, have no direct (or at least, obvious) resonance with the same stereotypical categories today: “The Heiress” (far curvier and with jaw-droppingly longer hemlines than your contemporary Tinsley Mortimer), “The Gibson Girl,” “The Bohemians” (though maybe that’s where Mary-Kate Olsen got the idea for her dowdy hobo-chic look), “The Screen Siren,” “The Suffragists” (seriously, please don’t wear this), and “The Flapper” (perhaps the only section I remotely enjoyed, although the common male opinion can be summed up in this one sentence: “These dropped waistlines make you look like a 12 year old boy”). And, lastly, perhaps to compensate for its wildly anachronistic, yawn-yawn feel, the museum includes that last room, aptly titled “The American Woman: 1890s-2010,” rife with gyrating images of Beyonce and Michelle Obama gleaming in her Jason Wu inauguration gown.

But is that last nod to the myriad identities of the American women alive and working today, well, enough? Why not include some Hussein Chalayan as a nod to Lady Gaga, or Gareth Pugh to evoke Beyonce’s amazing “Diva” video? But no. Let us all be content with staid mannequins evoking a way of life that has already far dissipated, whether it was the overtly masculine (offputtingly so, I’d say) costumes of the Suffragists (c’mon, a chic YSL pantsuit to bring it back to modern territory? please?) or the ridiculously luxurious gowns of the Heiresses. But please, go see the exhibit, which closes very soon (August 15), and then share with me: did you like, love, or hate the American women who supposedly fashioned our new national identity?

American Woman: Fashioning a National Collection; May 5, 2010–August 15, 2010; The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1000 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY.

–Xiyin Tang

56 Responses to “The Modern Perspective: Just What Is the Identity of the American Woman?”

  1. vps server says:

    Very Nice.. Nicer than Nice..

  2. Good story! I have been searching search engines for several hours looking for related facts about this, they definitely need to position your website higher!

  3. Another Blog Title…

    Pretty interesting post I read today……

  4. streaming says:

    Very interesting post. I’ve found your website on Yahoo, and I’ve been reading some useful information on it. Keep up the good work.

  5. sexe l says:

    Hi! Your article rocks and is really a very good understand!…

  6. Noel Wolgast says:

    What a cool article. I really love reading these kinds or articles. I can’t wait to see what others have to say.

  7. Gratzke from one genius to another.

  8. Its refreshing to come across a blog with such unique, interesting content.The internet is bogged down with bogus blogs with no real message but the post was fantastic and well worth the read.Thank you for sharing this with me.

  9. I find myself coming to your blog more and more often to the point where my visits are almost daily now!

  10. Loris Pluff says:

    Good blog, very interesting insight.

  11. Does one repost this to my blog site? I am going to set you a backlink. Let me know, many thanks!

  12. Abe Timms says:

    Rss seriously isn’t working in internet explorer, Generously make it better.

  13. I really enjoyed reading this post. Great step by step description!

  14. I started wondering if My spouse and i should use this write-up on a web page, Let me link it back to your website though. If, perhaps this is a predicament please make me aware and I will definately remove it instantly. I admire the valuable help and advice you offer within your articles. I will definitely book mark your article and get my colleagues check-up here routinely. I am reasonably positive they will find out lots of interesting info here when compared to just about anyone else .Thanks a lot when it comes to writing this information.

  15. I find myself coming to your blog more and more often to the point where my visits are almost daily now!

  16. You certainly deserve a round of applause for your post and more specifically, your blog in general. Very high quality material!

  17. Interesting article. Were did you got all the information from?

  18. hosting says:

    Hi there, I just needed to state how interesting I find this blog!

  19. Vimax says:

    Hey, just looking around some blogs, seems a pretty nice platform you are using. I’m currently using WordPress for a few of my sites but looking to change one of them over to a platform similar to yours as a trial run. Anything in particular you would recommend about it?

  20. Vimax says:

    That fantabulous post this has been. Within no way seen this kind associated with useful post. I’m grateful to you and anticipate much more associated with posts such as. Thank you very much.

  21. Thanks for this read mate. Well, this is my first visit to your blog! But I admire the precious time and effort you put into it, especially into interesting articles you share here!

  22. Appreciate the info – cheers!

  23. JOOLA-11200 says:

    Thanks for your sharing, it’s very useful

  24. torebki says:

    I suppose it depends on how you look at it. There’s usually another way.

  25. great Post…fantastic research

  26. mens suits says:

    I really need to visit this website more often, this is a gold mine of information.

  27. Nice post :) – I threw up a shortened version of this (more like a summary) on my blog, but definitely gave you credit with a link. Do you have any advertising spots on here? Hit me up on the email I left if you do.

  28. I really enjoy reading Your blog, I have bookmarked it. I believe that You will keep up with good job, your post was very interesting. I hope you have a nice day!

  29. Hot Games says:

    What blog platform are you using? I’ve been looking for a new one, and this seems much cleaner then wordpress.

  30. Fantastic post. I have been researching what you have said for a while now and what you have siad is right on the mark!

  31. VRy interesting to read it :P

  32. Good blog, very interesting insight.

  33. Cicero~ Let the punishment match the offense.

  34. You have some bugs in html or css code in the footer.

  35. good good…this post deserves nothing …hahaha just joking :P …nice post :P

  36. Luci Welby says:

    I have found your blog on Bing and the information written on your post is very interesting. I enjoy reading this one.

  37. This is like my third time coming by your site. Regularly I do not make comments on, but I have to mention that this article really pushed me to do so. Really awesome article!

  38. Would you like to exchange links? Contact Me and let me know

  39. I like this blog – great info keep it up!

  40. Emerson Vaca says:

    Hi there, do you have advertising space for sale on here? Kindly email me and let me know.

  41. Your website design looks cool. What template did you employ?

  42. I have bookmarked this page, keep up the good work!

  43. I have bookmarked this blog page to allow fast and easy access in the future.

  44. jordan shoes says:

    The value of culture is its effect on character. It avails nothing unless it ennobles and strengthens that

  45. I know this is really boring and you are skipping to the next comment, but I just wanted to throw you a big thanks, you cleared up some things for me!

  46. Alec Boakye says:

    Nice site how long have you been blogging for?

  47. Im pretty psyched that I stumbled across your blog. Lots of quality information here, I have bookmarked it and look forward to visiting weekly. Keep up the great work!

  48. Karie says:

    I always wanted to publish on my web site something like that. I typically don’t post comments in blogs but yet your own website made me to, exceptional job.… Best wishes, Karie.

  49. Great site, figured out a few new things! Subscribed RSS for later, hope to see more updates like this one.

  50. Moses Hiter says:

    Nice blog how long have you been blogging for?

  51. I’ve send this page to my fb friends. Keep this good work :)

  52. Miguel says:

    quite valuable stuff, overall I believe this is well worth a bookmark, thanks

  53. William Alix says:

    Have you ever considered adding more videos to your blog posts to keep the readers more entertained? I mean I just read through the entire article of yours and it was quite good but since I’m more of a visual learner,I found that to be more helpful well let me know how it turns out! I love what you guys are always up too. Such clever work and reporting! Keep up the great works guys I’ve added you guys to my blogroll. This is a great article thanks for sharing this informative information.. I will visit your blog regularly for some latest post.

  54. Great read. I also think it could be a bit longer ;)

  55. I was examining some of your content on this website and I believe this site is real informative ! Continue posting .

Leave a Reply

Name (required)

Mail (will not be published) (required)