Apollo and the Archaic Temple at Corinth by Bookidis N.

By Bookidis N.

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Likewise, studies of consumption practices associated with fashion and youth cultures, tended to be interested in girls’ construction of spectacular urban styles that represented a break from ‘mainstream’ femininity (see, for example, Evans and Thornton 1989, 1991). By focusing on consumption practices as leisure practices, such work not only did little to understand consumption within the sexual division of labour (Miller 1998), but also marginalised domestic consumption from the study of consumption.

She recalls how she was tormented at school as ‘different’, and treated as an object of charity by those whose philanthropy provided the boots and clothes. Mavis vowed that ‘I would work my fingers to the bone rather than [my children] 26 Gender and Consumption have [charity] clothes’. In 1948 Mavis and her husband were rehoused in a new council house in the suburbs of Birmingham and Mavis acquired a sewing machine. Her pleasure in the house and the sewing machine expresses a profound sense that she has found a place where she is safe from the vicissitudes of her childhood, a place in which charity clothes are replaced by clothes of her own making, and in which her children will not suffer the same injuries.

These desires were inscribed in material things and articulated in the detailed descriptions women were able to give of houses, furnishings, clothes, appliances. The women who dreamt of a better life running their own homes, with a companionable and caring husband, in a pleasant environment away from the dirt, drunkenness, crime and overcrowding of the inner city were as ‘modern’ in their way as the flapper or the Bloomsbury modernist. These women saw in the realisation of their material Class, Gender and Domestic Consumption in Britain 1920-1950 27 aspirations a sense of self-worth and dignity.

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