Thursday, March 13, 2008

Girdle Action

I couldn't resist posting this ad from the '42 newspaper about the "scientific aid" that will enable women to be active in defense of their country and the world--don a girdle, i.e. "anatomical support system" (phew! that even sounds like a military weapon!). Note how the ad has been set up to look like a military battle plan pinned up on the wall. Now, I may be needing just such "action" tomorrow as I'm presenting a talk for the Touhu Tildat using my Cheez Whiz posting as a starting point. I'm speaking on Finnish immigrant mothers and daughters growing up in Port Arthur.

My friend, Mervi, found me a pink dress from the '40s to wear with 3 large shiny black buttons, a slick belt, and a full gored skirt. The thing is, I have no idea if the dress will fit. We may have to do a bit of scrounging in some back drawers for something akin to "anatomical support", which nowadays comes in more "modern" styles and more choices underwonder or unitards or belly band underwear (specifically for the "muffin top") or, heaven forbid as the image is frightening! control-top thong

Mervi also found me a big brimmed black hat, a pair of 40s platforms and an old-style black tabletop dial telephone (which I need as I go from talking about Cheez Whiz to moving "to town" and getting our first telephone...). The talks that I do are a bit like performance pieces as I act out parts. I present them half in English, half in Finnish, as half of the audience knows only English, but the other half is most comfortable in Finnish. I've done 2 previous talks like this; one on shopping and consumerism told through female milliners of Port Arthur and through a bevy of hats, and the other on how our houses and furniture changed when Finns migrated and took up middle-class values, leaving the keinu tuoli behind for the Lazyboy chair.

Here's another ad, of a dad/husband going off to work with his white scientifically enriched bread in his lunchbox that I'm posting to give Dianna a good laugh. The ad calls to mind the white fluffy bread that modern science told us was healthier for us than 'real' bread, and that went so well with the plastic cheez we desired. After writing about Cheez Whiz, I found out that, gosh! everyone has a Cheez Whiz story, too! Dianna's dad, for instance, like my isa, brought it home so her and her siblings could feel like they 'belonged,' too.

She confesses to having proudly whipped out her sandwiches at school when they were made with white store bought bread (that they called "bakery bread") rather than the embarrassing! fresh out of the oven wholegrain breads her mom baked! White bread had class connotations. You could have pretensions of being "normal" (that is, middle class) if you ate white bread. And with Cheez Whiz inside? Why, you could pass as any of the fine women who rolled dainty sandwiches up for the I.O.D.E. ! (i.e. Imperial Orders Daughters of the Empire).

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