Les midinettes parisiennes à la Belle Époque : bon goût ou mauvais genre ?
AbstractDuring the “Belle Époque” period, the midinettes – young female workers in the Parisian haute couture – were important figures in two conflicting narratives that aimed to moralise their consumption. The social reformers of the Leplay school worried about the seamstresses’ way of life, which they regarded as putting their morality in jeopardy. Consequently, the reformers took initiatives to regulate it. At the other end of the spectrum, Confédération Générale du Travail’s newspaper, La Bataille Syndicaliste dedicated one daily column to educate these young consumers in order to transform them into workers conscious of their purchases. The parallel between these two narratives illuminates how moral definitions of consumers fluctuated along sex and class lines. These sources also allow us to question midinettes behaviour and to read, between the lines, some of their practises.
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