Middle-Class Women’s Identity During the First Years of the Turkish Republic:
Fashion and Beauty in the Popular Women’s Magazines of 1920s
This paper examines the relationship between modern fashion and the middle class woman’s identity during 1920s in Turkey. First of all, it will state that fashion was an important area where the post-war crises of femininity could be seen and the ideals of the Turkish woman’s new gender identity was both constructed and contested. It will also reveal in what ways, the relationship between fashion and the woman was represented as a “necessity” for the new woman’s modern identity and a “threat” against the traditional gender roles and the national interests during this period. Secondly, it will put forward that in the second half of 1920s, the new consumption culture and the commodification of beauty strengthened the role of the woman’s physical appearance in the construction of her collective and individual identities. In this sense, it will also claim that Turkish woman’s three different identities –the middle class family identity, the national identity and the individual identity- became prominent during different periods of 1920s but were constructed in relation to one another. Thirdly, toward the end of the 1920s, along with the replacement of the European fashion norms with the USA’s beauty norms, Turkish woman’s new femininity was defined in accordance with the eugenicist tendencies and policies of the new Republican regime. Finally, this study will accept 1920s as the first years of the commodification of beauty in Turkey with the proliferation of the mass media and the increasing circulation of the fashion and beauty images in the popular women’s magazines of the era. Primary sources of this study will be the popular women’s magazines of 1920s in Turkey, namely Süs (Ornament) (1923-1924) İnci/Yeni İnci (Pearl-New Pearl) (1919-1922) and Resimli Ay (The Illustrated Monthly) (1924-1931).