A background discussion
(on beachwear, informal work clothing, & maternal)
on 1930s Spontoon Islands
© 2014 by Antonia T. Tiger & Ken Fletcher
Clothing fashions & sexism in the world of Spontoon Island (1930s)
From a discussion in social media by A.Tiger & K. Fletcher in 2014
(Edited and with editorial comments by Ken Fletcher, July 2017)
(Antonia comments and summarizes previous group discussions on beachwear fashions, on Spontoon Island regions and its world. K. Fletcher)
To Spontoon Island Althing (social media group) --
From Antonia T. Tiger
4 July 2014
By the late 1930s, male beach fashion has, for most of the (Spontoon setting) world, settled on board shorts* as acceptable, and that has endured as a style ever since.
Female fashion was more restrictive, and kept changing. Some females do need a degree of structural support for comfort, it's not just an exercise in psychological control of the female. While there's some ugly elements of thinking behind the idea of the topless native maiden, the Topless Native Maidens of the Spontoon Islands are inclined to snicker at the tourists who think in that mode.
One mental image that keeps popping up for the aviation images is a Spontoonie woman working on a plane, with her baby in some sort of traditional sling on her back, glaring over mum's shoulder at the recalcitrant engine.
The Spontoonies, male and female (and likely the Rain Islanders), are very feminist in an apolitical sort of way. There might be personal arguments and concerns, within a relationship, but that's something for the individual, and the personal collective that is a Spontoonie family.
(* 'Board shorts' are swimming shorts as seen on people using surf-boards. Much like 'swimming trunks', board shorts may wrap around each leg for several inches past the crotch. They can be loose-fitting or tight-fitting.)
From Ken Fletcher
6 July 2014
Antonia (& Althing) --
“By the late 1930s, male beach fashion has, for most of the world, settled on board shorts as acceptable, and that has endured as a style ever since.” A. Tiger
In the United States (being generally less sophisticated) interesting things happened with men's swimming fashions. The evidence in the 1930s mail-order clothing catalogs was interesting. Those catalogs were for the lower & lower-middle classes, especially those living in small towns and rural areas.
I believe that “board shorts” are what would be called “swimming trunks” in the USA. They would cover the legs below the crotch for an inch or two, although recently knee-length trunks were fashionable.
Men's swimming suits did linger at 'shorts' with tighter, or looser leg covering (and with some variation in length) -- but generally for most males, swimming trunk styles have stayed conservative since the 1920s. (I expect that in the USA that competive sports swimmers had tight-fitting swimming-shorts beginning in the 1930s. Those abbreviated shorts may not have joined the cycle of 'generally fashionable' swimwear in the USA until the 1950s. K. Fletcher)
But about low sophistication... USA men's swim-suits seemed almost required to have tops until about 1934... A that time a few catalog models would be shown wearing only trunks. Before then, and after, (at least in the lower classes) it was expected that men would be wearing tops -- either short-sleeved t-shirt style, or an abbreviated sleeveless version with thin straps and an open back – so men's nipples, belly, and belly-button were expected to be covered. (And perhaps also to cover body-hair on the chest & belly?). This male swimsuit-with-top seemed to be a fashion standard in the developed world, but swim-trunks worn alone seemed to be accepted beach-wear in most of the developed world by the late 1920s. (There are locations where the men's swimsuit-with-top is still used as part of a uniform, such as for beach lifeguard teams in Australia.)
(Parts of our Western culture have nearly frozen-in-place sense about 1939. I wonder what happened?... this editor says ironically. K. Fletcher)
“Female fashion was more restrictive, and kept changing. Some females do need a degree of structural support for comfort, it's not just an exercise in psychological control of the female. While there's some ugly elements of thinking behind the idea of the topless native maiden, the Topless Native Maidens of the Spontoon Islands are inclined to snicker at the tourists who think in that mode.” A. Tiger
I think you are right to have the Spontoonie attitude about clothing be “set on default” to comfort (& convenience) and they would be detached or amused at visitors' expectations. Breast-support certainly should be a part of comfort – I would hope that on the 1930s Spontoon Island there should be variety in what is accepted clothing and what is considered attractive clothing.
Spontoonie detachment should also extend to how little consideration they might give to what visitors might consider appropriate 'beauty' to match what is worn (or exposed) for practical comfort's sake.
(This makes for some difficulties in cartooned illustrations, where there is a lot of message carried by visual stereotypes & tropes that signal "attractive" or "beautiful". It would be ideal to show all body types as beautiful, but I believe it can be much easier for an artist to fall into the traditional patterns of showing cliche cartoons of 'attractive'. This is a continuing challenge for the art contributors. K. Fletcher)
“One mental image that keeps popping up for the aviation images is a Spontoonie woman working on a plane, with her baby in some sort of traditional sling on her back, glaring over mum's shoulder at the recalcitrant engine.” A. Tiger
I very much like your mental image of a Spontoonie female aircraft worker with a baby in a back-sling, doing supervising. We need more images like this, and more Moms at Work in the Spontoon setting.
I keep coming back to the visual of a worker wearing cotton 'bib' overalls (or wearing a 'shop-apron') which provides some support & protection to breasts on-the-job while allowing for an open back for ventilation. If it is too warm for a shirt, at least they can have some pockets in their 'bib' overalls. (Wearing 'bib' overalls without a shirt has been an option for males for quite a long time. Certainly that would not be formal wear, but working wear, acceptable for certain jobs at specific times.)
“The Spontoonies, male and female (and likely the Rain Islanders), are very feminist in an apolitical sort of way. There might be personal arguments and concerns, within a relationship, but that's something for the individual, and the personal collective that is a Spontoonie family.” - A. Tiger
I think I agree with you. I imagine that on Spontoon Island the attitude of equality of roles within the families may have been around long enough (50 years or more in 1935?) to have become an apolitical part of their culture. "It works, and that's just what we want it to do!" Possibly Spontoonie culture is influencing the visitors from other cultures that have lived on the Spontoon Islands for any length of time.
Rain Island has also likely been politically feminist-sympathetic since the 1880s, and apolitical enough at home. Political wrangling may now be about other topics or personalities. (But maybe a bit more actively political about their feminism when facing the outside world -- since they may have much more contact with visitors from American and European cultures since the mid-1920s. I'm not sure how this works, yet.)
Tillamooka Islands (off the West-Coast of Canada) can have matrilineal tribes and traditions going waaaaay back. The division of roles and prestige could be different in different locations. Not every culture-group will be the same. Certainly there will be influence back-and-forth with their ally, Rain Island... and maybe also from watching the experiment of culture-building on Spontoon Island.
The the larger Spontoon Archipelago (region) is going to have many cultures, some related, some isolated on one island. The Spontoonie transport systems are going to be their major contact-point with the outside world, and some workers are going to Spontoon for seasonal work.... and then going back home. Spontoonie youngsters working as contacts on the Archipelago are likely to be idealistic about their own culture.
Antonia T. Tiger
7 July 2014
Something else to add:
I don't expect the Spontoonies to have the hang-ups about breast-feeding that some of the providers of Internet Services can have. but I don't blame artists for being careful what they post.
The Tourism Promotion Collective Calendar was probably banned by the US Post Office.
Antonia T. Tiger
7 July 2014
I'd agree that breast-feeding would be a commonplace part of Spontoonie life. That includes convenience in clothes' access and baby-carrying. Showing more babies and family/child interaction is now a part of my Art Reminder Bin.
(One of the recent viewers of Spontoon Island art has reminded me that pregnant females would be more a part of who a viewer would see in the Spontoon setting than has been shown previously. They are right. I will start adding to my references. K. Fletcher)
The various Spontoon Island Tourist promotional calendars probably *were* banned by the US Post Office. In some countries, they would also be banned by the national customs service. 8)
The USA & perhaps some of the European nations, might have work-arounds for distribution. The railroads provided shipping for the “Railway Express Agency”, and “Air Express” companies existed, even in the 1920s. They would deliver package shipping to local distributors (and individuals) of materials that were too dangerous or inappropriate for the national post office system.
(The Spontoon Island Tourism Promotion Collective Calendar is an very Spontoonie idea by Antonia, that shows up in some of her “Charlie Bellman” stories: Perhaps starting in the 1920s, and for sure in the 1930s, these calendars were offered for purchase (or selectively sent for promotion) to individuals around the world. They would be a month-by-month calendar, with “very artistic” photography of various Spontoonies, small groups or individuals, working at home, on a beach, or in a workshop, with 'appropriate' clothing for the job and circumstance.... most all photos including some casual partial nudity. Artistic studies that appeared to be really from Spontoon Island everyday life. K. Fletcher)