Roaring Twenties shocking exposure of bare-naked knees


Flapper girls in the 1920s danced the Charleston, showed bare-naked knees, and some older women were shocked. Publicity photo for 1928 film Our Dancing Daughters, starring Joan Crawford.


The 1920s were the Roaring Twenties, the decade of flappers, the Charleston, and bootleg booze, when women joined men in smoking in public and daring fashions revealed bare-naked knees. Older women were shocked. Some Alberta farm women wanted a law limiting the exposures of fashion. The Regina Leader comments in this editorial, January 19, 1923.

The United Farm Women of Alberta engaged in a warm debate over whether or not they should recommend that the Government fix by law what young women shall and shall not wear. Some of them would like to see Attorney General [John] Brownlee bustling around the province with a tape measure, checking up the length of skirts.

Others think that on the ground of economy alone it might be dangerous for the Government to meddle in the question of young women’s dress. The enforcement of the Alberta Temperance Act would probably be a simple matter compared with the enforcement of a law requiring girls to wear what they don’t want to wear. Governments have enough to do now without trying to cope with the hornet’s nest they would stir up by attempting to dictate in a matter of this sort.

Things have come to a pretty pass if the mothers of Alberta, or any province in Canada, have so far lost control of their offspring that they have to appeal to legislatures for assistance in regulating dress. Girls used to be brought up to dress modestly and becomingly. They can still be brought up that way if their parents will attend to their duties at home.

What the good women of Alberta apparently fear is that some of the extremes to which their daughters have recently carried the fashions threaten to undermine their moral fibre. We doubt if the danger is great, but even if it were the remedy is not to be found in state regulation of dress. The fair sex had just about as many slips to answer for as it has today, when it wore hooped skirts or gowns that swept the sidewalks.

Alberta undoubtedly already has sufficient legislation to prevent indecent exposure of the person in public; and that is as far it would seem wise to go.

Unfamiliar History—Canada@150.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *