Consuming Angels: Advertising and Victorian Women by Lori Anne Loeb

By Lori Anne Loeb

Timid and retiring, the Victorian housewife used to be an "angel within the house," or so says the stereotype. but if this angel picked up a favored magazine--The woman, for instance--she observed in its ads photos of Grecian goddesses, ladies warriors, queens, actresses, adventurers. those arrestingly sexual and unusually robust photographs are the topic of eating Angels, a massive exam of the way Victorian advertisements formed social values. Stylishly written and that includes seventy three reproductions, this publication indicates how advertisements used the hedonistic facets of Victorian tradition to promote their wares, glorified consumerism, and mythologized the middle-class lifestyles. photos of competitive ladies, Loeb exhibits, performed good to either women and men. And eventually, those advertisements helped bring in the 20 th century with the production of a brand new neighborhood: the group of shoppers.

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77 Prepared foods, like home decorating services, promoted convenience and attendant leisure. They reflected an increasingly hedonistic interest in the pursuit of pleasure. The commercial ideal promoted "domestic machines" to alleviate the pressures of household work and to maintain the appearance of gentility. Between 1860 and 1880 sewing machine advertising constituted as much as 80% of domestic machine advertisements. As many as fourteen brands— Singer, Wheeler & Wilson, W. F. Thomas, Willcox & Gibbs, J.

Tea, 1865. (Bodleian Library: The John Johnson Collection, Tea & Grocery Papers I. ) hoists a young child above his head. The casual warmth of the domestic scene is suggested by the father's hat strewn on the ground and the family dog leaping at his heels. The mother stands before the door of the family home, arms outstretched in welcome. A small girl, tentatively extends a posy, as a nurse hovers protectively behind her. The young boy looks away, but his identification with his father is indicated by their close proximity.

The Old Bailey). For Victorians the identification of justice as a woman seemed doubly appropriate. Although women in Victorian society held no positions within the formal judicial system, they were at "the altar of family love" the chief evaluators of moral character. Even the image of the fairy in advertisements functions as a whimsical reminder of feminine power. Advertisers borrowed a pictorial form popularized by a school of fairy painters (Paton, Fitzgerald, Doyle) that flourished at mid-century.

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