Figure 1.--This boy wore dresses and Fauntleroy curls. His hair in this photographed is not fully curled. It looks like there is only one ringlet on each side and the rest of the hair uncurled. Click on the image to see what he looked like in a Fauntleroy sailor suit and his ringlets more carefully displayed.
There is an extensive discussion in the HBC dress pages on
outfitted boys in dresses during previous eras. Some insist that the
reason was primaryly utilitarian, associated with an easy garment for
caring for younger children. There is undoubtedly some validity in this, esprcially in the years before ribber pants, washing machines, and easy to wear boys' clothes. It is not, however, a completely satisfying reason. Why for example if this was the reason were older boys kept in dresses, some times boys of 11 and 12 years of age. Clearly more was involved. The fact that mothers curled boys hair is futher proof that more was involved. Dresses were considered children's clothes and not just girls clothes.
Curls on the other hand, in the 19th Century were definitely a girls or woman's hair style. There was certainly nothing utilitarian about ringlet curls. The mother's enchantment with curls could relate to a variety of attitudes, somes perhaps not fully articulated buy the mothers. Factors probably included the concept of
childhood as an state of innosence and a view of beauty affected by fashions of the day--ringlet curls. Another factor must have been the woman's desire to hold on to their sons as long as possible, thus the dsire for fashions emphasing imaturity and inosence. In addition, women have long thought of themselves as superior to
violence prone men. The Victorian mother may not have articulate
this concet, but it was felt by many. Dresses and curls were a way of
shaping and keeping a boy in a non-masucline state as long as possible.
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