I somehow usually manage to limit any vintage purchases to clothing items for my collection or to print resources that might aid in research. But sometimes an object so perfect that completely encapsulates my interests presents itself, and so it becomes part of my “archive.” In this case it is this 1920s tin lunchbox.
That may seem to be an odd object to add to a vintage clothing collection, but with a theme this perfect, how could I say no. As the vendor put it, “I’ve never seen so much 1920s girl power on one item.” Neither had I.
For I’ve seen a lot of sports-themed decorated items that were designed for teenagers, but the great majority of them were geared toward boys. There might sometimes be a token girl, cheering her boyfriend football hero from the sidelines, or maybe a shapely teen in a swimsuit, but the baseball player, the golfer, the racing driver would all be male.
The graphics on my new box put the girls front and center, and put boys in a secondary role. This is obviously an item designed for girls, but it has none of the pink-tinged soft Hello Kitty motifs of products that are designed for girls today. These are real girls who enjoy sports. They are not portrayed as masculine girls, but they are shown to be strong girl competitors. They are not trying to be boys, but are enjoying the freedoms given to girls in the twentieth century.
Interestingly, it was this generation of American girls who came of age in the 1920s that was the first to grow up knowing they would have the right to vote.* Girls were growing up better educated and knowing they had opportunities that had been denied their mothers.
I’ve been reading a book written for teenagers about the battle for women’s right to vote, Petticoat Politics, by Doris Faber, published in 1967. It was the type of book that I loved as a girl. It showed that our rights were gained by hard work and perseverance.
I’m somewhat perplexed by young women today who claim they are not feminists. But I think it is because they do not have a strong understanding of the history of women’s rights and because they mistakenly think that to be feminist is to be anti-male. Maybe they should look to the young women on my tin box as role models.
Cooperation, not competition.
Just because there are no boys at the swimming hole does not mean that they can’t look cute.
Not only can she drive the race car, she can do it in style.
This independent girl finished her needlework pillow and promptly took it for a spin in her canoe.
Presenting the most non-aggressive basketball players ever!
* Some states, starting with Wyoming in 1869, had already written into state law the right of women to vote. There was nothing in the US Constitution that did not allow women to vote, as voting rules were left up to each state. By the time the 19th Amendment was passed in 1920, most women living in the West already had the vote. With the passage of the 19th amendment all states were required to allow women to vote.