Did girls in the 1890s worry about frizzy hair?

Historian Joan Jacobs Brumberg has studied teenage girls and their goals over a hundred year period, by analyzing their personal diary entries. Here’s what she’s found**:

In the 1890s, most adolescent girls focused on “striving to be kinder and more concerned for others, working harder in school, and rejecting frivolity.”

In the 1990s, however, girls’ goals focused on appearance only, “and the way to achieve it almost always involved buying things.”

Maybe humans have a continuous drive for self-improvement. But, at least in our current world, an astonishing amount of our drive is directed at “surfaces” and appearance.

What’s driving you today?

** as cited in Traci Mann’s Secrets from the Eating Lab, p. 167.