Between the period of the First and Second World Wars, girlhood became a site where social debates on young women’s appearance, habits, and sexualities took place. “Miss Modern”, a girl who was determined to cast aside conventional ideas of femininity, went on the stage.
While cutting hair was seen as incredibly offensive to the established values about girlhood and femininity in the Victorian and Edwardian era, Miss Modern enthusiastically took short hair into fashion trends. They also generously brought cheap cosmetics and giddy clothes back to their home. They consumed cigarettes, music, and alcohol. They went dancing, singing, also biking and camping. They were also called flappers. Their habits – especially seeking sexual pleasure – somehow fed the imagination of the public. In turn, they were portrayed as man-hungry girls with “easy virtue”.
Through the 1920s, girl workers also occupied a large amount of newspaper coverage when they entered into new professions such as aviators and engineers. Young women, by challenging the male-dominant hierarchy in both the job market and traditional girlhood image, started to jauntily rewrite the definition of girlhood and femininity by themselves. Birth control and contraception aides became more available during the two World Wars. Easier access to them benefited girls to make decisions on their own body. Miss Modern’s girlhood might be perceived as wild, rebel, or even dangerous by some, but she was also able to keep sensible and practical.