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‘I’m going to be an executive secretary and marry the boss.’ ” The other alternative was for women to take jobs in high-class department stores where rich men were likely to shop.These women became known as “Shopgirls.” Donovan spent two summers working at a department store to research a book, and later reported she knew of “several marriages and heard of a great many more where the husband was far above the wife as measured by the economic scale.” Magazines began running articles such as, “How Shopgirls win Rich Husbands.” An in-house newsletter for Macy’s employees in New York even included a gossip column that tracked these courtships. ” In order to attract rich men, these Shopgirls were caught by the irony of needing to buy the expensive items they sold.In Chicago, single women were known as “women adrift.” These circumstances gave birth to dating rituals and other unfortunate traditions that still remain — or, at least, still cause confusion as mores change — today.When women first hit the workforce, writes Weigel, “the belief remained widespread they were working not to support themselves but only to supplement the earnings of fathers or husbands.” As such, “employers used this misconception as an excuse to pay women far less than they paid men.By 1912, the Baltimore Sun reported that even respectable society women ‘are seen on our streets and fashionable promenade with painted faces.’ ” To counter society’s negative association with painted faces, “the cosmetics industry invented a new term: makeup.
“‘If I had to buy all my meals I’d never get along,’ a young woman living in a boardinghouse in Hell’s Kitchen told a social worker in 1915.” But as these women were courted in public, efforts were undertaken to curb what authorities viewed as a potential public menace.
” But when these single women, stripped from their dependency on fathers and husbands, began to be courted in public, police, politicians, and civic leaders were alarmed.
“In the eyes of the authorities,” Weigel writes, “women who let men buy them food and drinks or gifts and entrance tickets looked like whores, and making a date seemed the same as turning a trick.” After centuries of women’s fortunes being dictated by the men around them, the notion of women on their own gave much of society pause.
“Previously, only prostitutes and actresses ‘painted.’ Victorians had viewed ‘natural’ outer beauty as a sign of clean living.
But around 1900, more and more women were starting to apply cosmetics.
“By making herself up, a woman showed that she valued her femininity and was willing to spend time and money on her appearance.” Two other now-familiar concepts also sprung up around this time.