Kristina wrote an excellent post yesterday about actual vintage vs. caricatures that have been historically enshrined as vintage. She writes:
Sure, sometimes they wore red lipstick. Sometimes they did victory rolls. Sometimes they had fluffy skirts held out by petticoats. But watching a movie or searching street style from that era, there was so much more. And very few cat-eye looks, I should point out. I feel as though more often, it was pink or orange or even neutral lipsticks, soft brown shadows (or, hello, blue shadow), liner that was pretty subtle (it was all about the lip shape back then), fantastic brows, and hair that was fluffed and curled to glamorous volume.
I think sometimes the collective-we forgets that the history we slaver over was inhabited by actual people. Narratives are messy and murky and non-linear. And humans have always been human. The way we categorize them after the fact often has nothing to do with how they really lived. For instance – if I had a dime for every rockabilly type who claimed that vintage bikinis were “so much classier” than today’s stringy counterparts! As though they weren’t considered downright scandalous in their own time. We idolize Marilyn Monroe in the 21st century and forget that in her own, she was basically Kim Kardashian meets Monica Lewinsky.
Ditto when the nostalgia-prone sigh for “real” courtship, for the days when “men were gentlemen and women were ladies”. Maybe that’s how we’ve chosen to remember those days, but it was never that simple. There were still drunken hookups. There was gossip and seduction and guys who didn’t call. Let’s not pretend we don’t know what drive-in movies were really about.
All the things we think are newfangled conventions? They’ve always existed. People were terrified to be open about them.
Here’s to a fuller remembrance of history. To taking the good parts and leaving the bad to rot, but fundamentally understanding all of it. To knowing that truth is stranger than fiction.