If one judge by appearances, I suppose I am a
flapper. I am within the age limit. I wear bobbed hair, the badge of flapperhood. (And,
oh, what a comfort it is!), I powder my nose. I wear fringed skirts and bright-colored
sweaters, and scarfs, and waists with Peter Pan collars, and low-heeled "finale
hopper" shoes. I adore to dance. I spend a large amount of time in automobiles. I
attend hops, and proms, and ball-games, and crew races, and other affairs at men's
colleges. But none the less some of the most thoroughbred superflappers might blush to
claim sistership or even remote relationship with such as I. I don't use rouge, or
lipstick, or pluck my eyebrows. I don't smoke (I've tried it, and don't like it), or
drink, or tell "peppy stories." I don't pet. And, most unpardonable infringement
of all the rules and regulations of Flapperdom, I haven't a line! But then--there are many
degrees of flapper. There is the semi-flapper; the flapper; the superflapper. Each of
these three main general divisions has its degrees of variation. I might possibly be
placed somewhere in the middle of the first class.
I think every one
realizes by this time that there has been a marked change in our much-discussed tactics.
Jazz has been modified, and probably will continue to be until it has become obsolete.
Petting is gradually growing out of fashion through being overworked. Yes, undoubtedly our
hopeless condition is improving. But it was not for discussing these aspects of the case
that began this article.
I want to beg all you parents, and grandparents, and friends, and
teachers, and preachers--you who constitute the "older generation"--to overlook
our shortcomings, at least for the present, and to appreciate our virtues. I wonder if it
ever occurred to any of you that it required brains to become and remain a successful
flapper? Indeed it does! It requires an enormous amount of cleverness and energy to keep
going at the proper pace. It requires self- knowledge and self analysis. We must know our
capabilities and limitations. We must be constantly on the alert. Attainment of
flapperhood is a big and serious undertaking!
"Brains?" you repeat, skeptically."Then why aren't
they used to better advantage?" That is exactly it! And do you know who is largely
responsible for all this energy's being spent in the wrong directions? You! You parents,
and grandparents, and friends, and teachers, and preachers--all of you! "The
war!" you cry. "It is the effect of the war!" And then you blame
prohibition. Yes! Yet it is you who set the example there! But this is my point: Instead
of helping us work out our problems with constructive, sympathetic thinking and acting,
you have muddled them for us more hopelessly with destructive public condemnation and
Think back to the time when you were struggling through the teens.
Remember how spontaneous and deep were the joys, how serious and penetrating the sorrows.
Most of us, under the present system of modern education, are further advanced and more
thoroughly developed mentally, physically, and vocationally than were our parents at our
age. We hold the infinite possibilities of the myriads of new inventions within our grasp.
We have learned to take for granted conveniences, and many luxuries, which not so many
years ago were as yet undreamed of. We are in touch with the whole universe. We have a
tremendous problem on our hands. You must help us. Give us confidence--not distrust. Give
us practical aid and advice--not criticism. Praise us when praise is merited. Be patient
and understanding when we make mistakes.
We are the Younger Generation. The war tore away our spiritual
foundations and challenged our faith. We are struggling to regain our equilibrium. The
times have made us older and more experienced than you were at our age. It must be so with
each succeeding generation if it is to keep pace with the rapidly advancing and mighty
tide of civilization. Help us to put our knowledge to the best advantage. Work with us!
That is the way! Outlets for this surplus knowledge and energy must be opened. Give us a
Youth has many disillusionments. Spiritual forces begin to be felt.
The emotions are frequently in a state of upheaval, struggling with one another for
supremacy. And Youth does not understand. There is no one to turn to--no one but the rest
of Youth, which is as perplexed and troubled with its problems as ourselves. Everywhere we
read and hear the criticism and distrust of older people toward us. It forms an
insurmountable barrier between us. How can we turn to them?
In every person there is a desire, an innate longing, toward some
special goal or achievement. Each of us has his place to fill. Each of us has his
talent--be it ever so humble. And our hidden longing is usually for that for which nature
equipped us. Any one will do best and be happiest doing that which he really likes and for
which he is fitted. In this "age of specialists," as it has been called, there
is less excuse than ever for persons being shoved into niches in which they do not belong
and cannot be made to fit. The lives of such people are great tragedies. That is why it is
up to you who have the supervision of us of less ripe experience to guide us
sympathetically, and to help us find, encourage, and develop our special abilities and
talents. Study us. Make us realize that you respect us as fellow human beings, that you
have confidence in us, and, above all, that you expect us to live up to the highest
ideals, and to the best that is in us.
It must begin with individuals. Parents, study your children. Talk
to them more intimately. Respect their right to a point of view. Be so understanding and
sympathetic that they will turn to you naturally and trustfully with their glowing joys or
with their heartaches and tragedies. Youth has many of the latter because Youth takes
itself so seriously. And so often the wounds go unconfessed, and, instead of gradually
healing, become more and more gnawing through suppression until of necessity relief is
sought in some way which is not always for the best.
Mothers, become acquainted with your children. Be the understanding,
loving, happy comrade of your daughter. Become her ideal. And strive to live up to the
ideal you set for the woman who is to become your son's wife. Be his chum. Be young with
him. Oh, what a powerful and wonderful influence you are capable of exerting if you only
will! Fathers, find out what is within the minds and hearts and souls of your children.
There is a wonderful, an interesting,and a sacred treasure-house there if you will take
the time and pain to explore. The key is yours in return for patient understanding,
sympathetic encouragement, and kindly wisdom. Make love to your daughter if necessary!
Make her realize the depth of your love and make her feel that you have confidence in her
ability to live up to your standards of upright womanhood. Be your son's best pal. Make
his interests your interests. Encourage him to formulate a workable philosophy of life.
And remember this: A little merited praise means so much! A little encouragement goes such
a long way! Oh, parents, parents everywhere, point out to us the ideals of truly glorious
and upright living! Believe in us, that we may learn to believe in ourselves, in humanity,
in God! Be the living examples of your teachings, that you may inspire us with hope and
courage, understanding and truth, love and faith. Remember that we are the parents of the
future. Help us to be worthy of the sacred trust that will be ours. Make your lives such
an inspiration to us that we in our turn will strive to become an inspiration to our
children and to the ages! Is it too much to ask?
1. List six (6) characteristics of the "flapper" in the 1920s.
2. What or who does the flapper blame (or give credit) for her existence?
3. What effect did "the Great War" have on the flapper and her peers?
Describe three effects.
4. According to the Flapper, what should be the characteristics of a good 1920s parent?
Extra Credit - Have a parent or guardian write a letter in response to the above
letter, written as if this flapper were their child. What points are valid? What points do
they disagree with? Have your parent or guardian put their response in a sealed envelope.