1942, California and the innocent click of a photo lens set into motion a series of events, that concluded in the uncovering of symbol – an icon setting women on the path to empowerment.
The photo was of a 20 year old Naomi Parker Fraley – and the most striking thing about the image at the time? That this woman was uncharacteristically dressed, not adhering to the expected norm of women of this era.
Following the attack on Pearl Harbour, the United States entered into the battle of World War 2, and the jobs that were formerly carried out by men fell at the usually stiletto-clad feet of the women. Naomi Parker Fraley was just one of the many millions of women who marched into these new roles while the men were sent off to fight.
Not only did this adaptability of women show the immense strength, courage and inclusiveness that they encompass but it sparked a ‘new style’ which enabled women to alter the way in which they were visually perceived.
In order to carry out these formerly male-only tasks, the women had to wear trousers, remove jewellery and cover their hair and this is where the iconic image of Rosie the Riveter was born.
Emblazoned with the words We Can Do It – this was the first time that women had the opportunity to step into the fray. Showing that they were more than homemakers, exhibiting that they too were strong and could match the skills of the men who had previously been filling these roles. But more importantly this was a reminder that, regardless of gender, if we are to achieve anything it needs to involve a ‘We’ – whether that be women supporting and working alongside other women, or women stepping into the roles traditionally held by men to keep society ticking over.
Naomi Parker Fraley sadly passed away in January 2018, but inadvertently left behind a legacy that will far surpass many of our own lifetimes. There is no us and them, there are no longer men’s jobs and women’s jobs, nor are there male clothes and female clothes – the power and success of society is in the ‘we’ and the supporting and lifting up of those around us - irrespective of their gender, job or what they choose to wear.
The image was recreated by Naomi prior to her death earlier this year and, in spite of the progress that women have made since its original publication in the 1940’s – we do still have some way to go.
Regardless of the decades that have passed, this image continues to be the symbol of modern feminism, of breaking gender stereotypes and proving the imitable force that is womankind.
About the writer: This blog was written by Ultamodan's contributing writer Jayne. She is passionate about all things relating to fashion, lifestyle and holistic living. Hailing from a quaint house near the sea in Wales, where happy living is key and the cats rule the roost! For any enquiries please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Ultamodan is a fashion store created to empower women. Purchase any of our products and 5% of the profits are donated to the Women and Girls Network which supports survivors of domestic violence.