As this joke in a high school yearbook illustrates, teenage girls understood the commercialized nature of “good looks” and their significance for young women by the mid-1920s. Beauty, health, and cosmetics were bound up with the construction of high school girls’ culture as was fashion. But teenage girls displayed interest in adult beauty culture long before manufacturers, retailers, and marketers recognized their potential as a distinct market. Girls negotiated messages and products designed for adult women, incorporated them into their habits and friendships, and explored the links between consumer goods, appearance, and femininity in an effort to participate in the growing commercial beauty culture. Makeup and permanent waves symbolized adult looks and privileges, yet girls integrated them into teenage rituals such as pajama parties and makeovers. Girls used beauty products to experiment with femininity and with their roles as teenage girls in the same way they adopted clothing styles, exploring various looks for private and sometimes public display. Consuming beauty products did not necessarily distinguish girls as teenagers, but teenage strategies for using them did.
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