Abstract: Gee! I Wish I Were a Man: The Christy Girl Joins the Navy

M. Lynn Barnes

Abstract

When the United States of America entered World War I, several changes in national policy and popular sentiment occurred. General attitudes of isolation and a no-war policy shifted to the immediate need to recruit troops. The Society of Illustrators answered the Committee of Public Information's request to produce war effort artwork. Poster art, a perfect public relations medium, announced the urgent requirement for recruits. The fashion silhouette that developed in tandem with the Suffragette Movement was the tailored suit. Its silhouette reflected the movement of women into the male world of voting, sports, business, and the military. The Yeoman(F) rank was created and the fashionable tailored suit was the inspiration for her standard-issue uniform. World War I, poster art, military enlistment, the Suffragette Movement and the business of fashion mesh together in the poster art of Howard Chandler Christy. The infamous Christy Girl sports the standard issue naval uniform for men, not the Yeoman(F) uniform. Christy's deliberate effort to recruit sailors resulted in the cross-dressing of his poster girl. Enlistment records demonstrate that fashion advertising of this form was a successful recruiting mechanism for men.