NOT an example of 1940s androgyny

This picture is shared online as being an example of a girl dressed in an androgynous manner, a butch girl, a Teddy girl or as two lesbians in the 1940s.

That is not the case.

First lets agree on the definition of androgyny;

“Not clearly male or female”
“The quality or state of being neither specifically feminine or masculine : the combination of feminine and masculine characteristics”

Looking at this photo a modern person could possibly see a girl who dresses rather masculine, she is wearing trousers, jodhpurs to be exact.
This does not match the typical image most people have of girls in the 1940s who, so some people think, all wore dresses.

Seeing a girl dress in what modern people think is unusual for the era makes them project their modern world views onto the image, after all there must be a reason for this 1940s girl to dress in that weird manner.

However there is nothing particularly masculine about the clothes the girl is wearing.
Her outfit is perfectly common for a girl who is on her way to go horse riding, which she is.

I tracked down the original and found the original story behind it;

This is a photo of my beloved grandmother, Audrey. It was taken in 1939, when she was 17, the same age I am now. On her right is her younger sister, Amba. On the way to the Tan at the Botanical Gardens for a horse ride, the two were captured walking down Swanson St, Melbourne by a street photographer. It was taken days before she enlisted in the Air Force for World War II. Personally I find it incredible that these places, that are frequented by thousands of people every day, including myself and my sister, were once travelled by my own Granny Audie. I can only imagine what kind of mischief she got up to with her own sister. As much as I loved her in her later years, I would have longed to know her when she was that age.

So in short, these are just two young sisters on their way to go horse riding in 1939.
The girl on the left is wearing a horse riding outfit, there is nothing special about it.

Androgyny was very popular among women in the 1920s and 1930s, there are lots of amazing and wonderful photos that you can find that show their fantastic outfits.
There are also lots of images you can find of the gay and lesbian community of that era.
But this picture shows neither.

If you see the picture shared online with a claim of authenticity, please direct the person posting it to this article.

Picture(s) found online, used for (re-)educational purposes only.
I do not own the copyrights to this picture, I only share it here for educational purposes to try and make sure the real story behind it becomes known and people will stop spreading false information.

If the copyright owner objects to the sharing here, kindly contact me and I shall remove it right away.

The Sartorialist

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s