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  • The story of bloomers and how this humble garment

  • became a feminist fashion statement.

  • Women's clothing in the mid 19th Century was cumbersome

  • and heavy.

  • Sometimes weighing as much as 11 kilos,

  • that's the same weight as a large watermelon.

  • Imagine carrying that around all day.

  • Outfits included crinolines, hooped skirts, bustles, bodices

  • and tightly laced corsets.

  • These tight, uncomfy clothes caused all kinds of health problems,

  • including fainting, squashed organs and deformities.

  • In 1851, US activist Elizabeth Smith Miller,

  • started wearing loose, light trousers, gathered at the ankles.

  • These were similar to Turkish trousers

  • and were known as Turkish dresses.

  • Her suffragist friend, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, decided to wear some

  • when she visited Amelia Jenks Bloomer,

  • the publisher of the first American newspaper for women in the US,

  • The Lily.

  • Amelia Bloomer loved the idea of this new liberating garment so much,

  • that she began to wear the trousers herself and promote them

  • in her magazine, even publishing instructions on how to make them.

  • The press ended up calling this new outfit the bloomer dress.

  • Later this was abbreviated to simply bloomers.

  • The idea of women wearing trousers caused outrage at the time,

  • they were considered strictly men's wear.

  • Some women were even arrested when wearing them.

  • Amelia Bloomer said,

  • {\an2}"I stood amazed at the furore I had unwittingly caused.

  • Some praised, and some blamed, some commented

  • and some ridiculed and condemned."

  • Bloomers became a symbol for the women's rights movement,

  • leading to the bloomer dress also called the freedom dress.

  • And Amelia herself becoming a prominent figure

  • in the US suffragette movement.

  • There were many styles of bloomers, often combined with dresses,

  • and they eventually became shorter and tighter,

  • before falling out of favour.

  • Only to reappear in the early 20th Century,

  • worn by women taking part in sports, including the craze for cycling.

  • You'd think a women wearing trousers would be no big deal these days,

  • but look at how much chatter and debate there was around

  • Hillary Clinton and her famous pantsuit

  • when she was running for US president.

  • Amelia Jenks Bloomers' two legged legacy

  • strides on into the 21st Century.

  • Thanks for watching! :)

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The story of bloomers and how this humble garment

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How bloomers became a feminist fashion statement | BBC Ideas

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    Summer posted on 2020/12/16
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