PROFILE IN COURAGE: Amelia Bloomer

27 Aug

I am personally very grateful that I don’t have to wear dresses every day. Thanks to the work of many women, including advocate Amelia Bloomer, we aren’t required to wear anything we don’t want to. Although the women’s rights activist didn’t invent bloomers, she increased their popularity. Bloomer advocated for equal rights in all aspects of life, including dress code, in her bi-weekly publication The Lily:

“The costume of women should be suited to her wants and necessities. It should conduce at once to her health, comfort, and usefulness; and, while it should not fail also to conduce to her personal adornment, it should make that end of secondary importance.”

The clothing was ridiculed by the press, and eventually Bloomer stopped wearing the costume that had since been nicknamed after her (called the Bloomer Costume or bloomers). However, her work towards equal rights and more comfortable clothing led to reform movements in clothing and eventually the ability for women to wear the same clothing as men.

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Bloomer began publishing The Lily in 1849 and it eventually reached a circulation of 4,000. It has become a model for other publications focused on woman’s suffrage. It was a voice for many women reformers including her contemporaries Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony.

She wrote for a wide array of periodicals her entire life and led suffrage campaigns. Unlike many women, her husband encouraged her writing and she wrote for his newspaper, the Seneca Falls County Courier. She served as president for the Iowa Woman Suffrage Association for three years.

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