While I often talk about my desire to live in another generation, this 1949 video produced by Coronet Instructional Films gave me some insight into how it might actually feel to live in a different decade – and it was a little alarming. Called “How to be Well Groomed,” the film details the grooming habits of siblings Don and Sue and emphasizes the importance of physical appearance, stating, “Your success depends a great deal on how you look.”
Don and Sue’s lives seem more or less consumed by taking care of their appearances – and while the film is unsettling in itself (to me, a child of the 90’s), what’s more interesting still is that it’s part of a larger series of instructional films on subjects like how to be popular, how to act your age, and what you should and shouldn’t do on a date. Don and Sue’s fashion rules are just part of a much broader set of prescriptions for appearance and behaviour – and I feel like, had I been a teenager in 1949, this bombardment of rules would have made me crazy.
I’m all for neatness and health and good posture, but I’m also all for wearing nail polish in every colour of the rainbow, and occasionally rolling out of bed ten minutes before I have to leave for class. While I still love the fashion of decades past, I also love the freedom I have in 2010 – and now, my desire to be part of another generation is coloured by gratitude for being able to choose which parts of those generations to keep, and which to leave behind.
- Hailey Siracky