Spotlight: Clara Bow

“The more I see of men, the more I like dogs.”
Clara Bow

Spotlight: Clara Bow

Clara Bow was the IT girl because she was in a movie called It. Since then we still talk about “it” girls in every generation. Sexy, charismatic, fun and often fierce; that is what an It Girl is. She was the world’s first sex symbol.

Ms. Bow was a super-star on the Silent Screen where she got 45,000 fan letters a week! And, this is the deal, she defined The Flapper image and changed the way women present themselves to the world. Not just fancy fashionable women but every-day work-a-moms. It really is incredible what happened in this early time in the 1920s.

Lets chronicle some of the changes for women in the Roaring Twenties. This is just after the World War 1, soldiers were coming home. The bra was invented, freeing women from three hundred years of the corset. The sleeve-less straight dress of the flapper got women to shave their armpits for the first time in history. Clara Bow as so popular that women cut their hair short and began wearing make-up. Everyday women of the time did not wear make-up unless it was to cover a bad blemish: it was not fashionable for every woman of every class and then, it all changed.


Clara Bow put her lipstick on in the shape of a heart, to this day we still call them “Bow lips”.

It took me forever to figure out the lyrics from the song All That Jazz in the musical Chicago. The line is “I’m going to rouge my knees”. Who would put make-up on their knees? The answer is the Flapper. Girls at that time wore dresses below the knee and would hope for a gust of wind to blow up and show off their knees; scandalous, I know.

Clara Bow’s movie characters were always working girls in a shop. The character was unabashed at desiring men notably in the It movie, she sees a man and says “Oh Santa, gimme him!”. She flirted, smoked in public, drank booze and became the “idol of working girls and the dream of working class guys everywhere”.


In the 1920s, everything changed for women. There were campaigns for women’s rights, working rights and more. Women were rising up in the work place; excelling in a man’s world with writing, politics, directing movies; it really was an explosion of personal freedom and the beginning of new dreams. Clara Bow, the it girl, was the beacon of female independence.

Boop boop de boop. She got her own postage stamp.


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