As I was looking through 1950-1960s advertisements, I noticed a common theme in the portrayal of mother-daughter relationships. Usually the mothers and daughters were in matching outfits and participating in some sort of coordinated action. In this particular ad, the mother and daughter almost seem to be dancing in the left panel. Rose’s somewhat tumultuous relationship with both of her daughters in Gypsy definitely comments on this polished and harmonious expectation. It also complicates the idea that daughters should look up to their mothers as the daughter is physically doing in the right panel of the ad and that daughters should strive to become their mothers, potentially implied by the matching outfits.

 

Musical: Gypsy

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One Reply to “Mother-daughter relationships portrayed in 1950s ads”

  1. This is a great ad to put in conversation with Gypsy! In this ad, as you stated in your post, the relationship between mother and daughter is depicted as one that is close. This is indicated in their matching outfits, stances and joyful expressions. With regards to their appearance, I think it’s worth noting that these mothers and their daughters are outfitted in prim and proper, yet casual dresses. Cinched at the waist, the dresses emphasize the 50’s notion of the ideal female figure. The skirts, when worn by the women, modestly settle below the knee. However, the bright red, white, and blue block coloring of these dresses suggests that they are for casual use. Prim, proper, yet casual, these dresses (taken along with the women’s hairstyles and pearl jewelry) are befitting of the ideal domestic housewife. The daughters are portrayed as miniature versions of their mothers, suggesting that they should emulate them—and perhaps emulate them in more than just style. Perhaps this ad not only suggests that children should strive to look like their mothers, but to act like their mothers.

    This idea, which you noted in your description—that children should strive to look and act like their mothers—is especially interesting when examined through the context of Gypsy. It’s particularly interesting because in Gypsy neither June nor Louise bear many similarities (vocally, or in terms of character or costuming) to Rose. Nor do they condone their mother’s actions. (This is perhaps most clearly expressed in “If Mama was Married.”) Instead, it is Rose who tries to live through her children, who tries to recognize her dream first through June, then through Louise. By the end of the show, Louise has arguably achieved some version of Rose’s dream. She has a successful career as a stripper in the entertainment industry, is being invited to events and asked to pose for Vogue photo shoots. However, Rose, still trying to live through her daughter, still finds herself dissatisfied (as expressed in “Rose’s Turn”). In a way, their roles have been reversed. Rose looks up to Louise, just as Louise once depended on Rose. Such a reversal is not only limited to their roles, but to their dress as well, as Louise offers Rose a mink stole matching her own.

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