Representations of the True Woman and the New Woman in Harper's Bazar
The purpose of this study was to better understand the ways in which American women were portrayed during the periods of the True Woman (1870 to 1880) and the New Woman (1890-1905) in Harper's Bazar magazine. During the late 19th century, the role of women in American society and culture began to noticeably change. Qualities that once embodied the ideal True Woman including modesty, submissiveness, physical weakness, limited education, and complete devotion to husband and home were called into question and threatened by the rise of the New Woman. Through construction of fashion images and illustrations, magazines of the late nineteenth century portrayed a desirable lifestyle to its readers. As one of the oldest consecutive running women's magazines in the United States, Harper's Bazar provides significant and insightful information on American women's history and culture.
As woman's roles changed both at home and in the wider public sphere during the nineteenth century, it was hypothesized that these representations in magazines also changed, but to what extent and why? Findings suggest that the True Woman was depicted in more submissive and home-making roles: sewing, attending to children, arranging flowers, and sitting in groups. In contrast, the New Woman was illustrated in more active roles that reflected her new opportunities in society.