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[REV 25-NOV-2014]

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Sashed: 1921

Sashed: 1921

1921. Inter-City Beauties Ethel Charles, Nellie Orr and Margaret Gorman at Union Station in Washington, D.C. Margaret would be crowned winner at the very first Miss America pageant. National Photo Company glass negative. View full size.

On Shorpy:
Today's Top 5

These young women are beautiful

I can't believe all the comments about how "homely" these pageant contestants are. These are beautiful young women. Sure, the vintage clothing is a bit frumpy compared to now. But if you put these women in modern bikinis, they would turn a lot of heads. I prefer natural women -- not the fake chested, pumped up lips, bleach blonde types that Hollywood says are attractive.

How to Flatter a Flapper

Actually, in the 1920s, it was common for women to wear undergarments that would flatten the bust and narrow the hips to make them look more flat, kind of like a boy. I'm sure they'd be amazed at all the women getting implants today! Standards of female beauty are constantly changing.

I appreciate

the natural beauty of these young women and others we have seen here on Shorpy, much more than the plastic, over processed Barbie dolls that pass for beauty queens these days. Nellie comes across as a woman with a whole lot of class.

Tea with Miss America

Back in 1976 a friend of mine picked up a hitchhiker outside Richmond, and in the ensuing months he kind of hung around with us. Once, when we went up to DC for some carousing we brought him along. While we were bumming around in Georgetown this guys says, "hey do you want to meet the first Miss America"? Long story short she was his Great Aunt and lived over by Rock Creek. Sure enough we drive up and lo and behold -- Miss Margie Gorman. We had tea in her living room.

The DNA's Fine

"I wonder how we got so many fine looking woman today with the genetic material we see in these old photos?"

Oh, it's easy enough. Regular preventive dental care, daily showers, the wonders of waxing, modern undergarments, hair dye, mascara, eyeliner, foundation -- do we need to continue? Women weren't "uglier" then, they just had different standards of beauty and far fewer and lower-quality means of altering their appearance than we do today. If you took a random sample of the girls in Shorpy photos, transported them to 2010, and had them made over in contemporary styles and used modern products, you wouldn't notice a difference. Or, in a more feasible study, if you took modern women and scrubbed off all the makeup, you might see more resemblance to The Sashed Ones than you dare admit to the lady.

Besides, I think Nellie is quite pretty, and you can't even see Ethel's face, so I'm not sure where all the "homely" charges are coming from.

These ARE cute girls..

Throw on all the makeup the stylists shovel on and add a professional hairstylist, wardrobe. I think they are just three natural looking young girls!


In about 100 years, people will be looking over photos of today's "fine looking woman" on "Shorpy-2110" and wondering why she ever starved herself, pumped herself full of Dow-Corning's best to inflate her natural features and suffered the pain of a little nip/tuck only to remain so "homely."

These ladies all look nice to me, although the fashions the ladies on the left and right chose don't exactly flatter their shapes but then I guess that was the style of the day.

Natural beauty

Without all the makeup, Botox, breast and butt implants, plumping, liposuction, spray tanning, chemical peels, mani-pedis, hair dye, orthodontics and tooth bleaching that's what most EVERYONE looks like. Too bad we seem to have lost the ability to appreciate a wider standard of beauty.

A different criterion for beauty back then

I disagree with all of you critics! If you look at popular film stars of the era, these girls are quite pretty for the time. Margaret Gorman has that Mary Pickford/Mary Miles Minter look about her. I did wonder about Miss Orr's tooth, however, maybe she always smiled with her mouth closed around the judges.

I love the closeups of the clothes and shoes. Nellie's sweater and blouse are gorgeous and probably would cost a fortune today. However, Miss Charles needs her hem repaired.

Those were the days!

When a kid could run around Union Station with no shoes. I wonder how we got so many fine looking woman today with the genetic material we see in these old photos?

Gym teachers in the makin'

Either bribes or "connections." How else can these 3 homely girls have been considered even remotely pretty?

Come an' listen to a story ...

Is that Jed Clampett in the background?

Ain't Nobody Perfect

I do not sit in judgement nor am I personally in any shape to be a critic, but they must have been a lot less picky defining "beauty" in 1921. Arf, arf.


Buddy Ebsen seems unimpressed.

Beverly Hillbillies

I see Jed Clampett there in the back. Was Ellie Mae a contestant too?

Searching for Ellie Mae

While none of our contestants could me mistaken for Ellie Mae Clampett, the guy on the right sure looks sure looks like her daddy Jed!

SHORPY HISTORICAL PHOTO ARCHIVE | History in HD is a vintage photo archive featuring thousands of high-definition images from the 1850s to 1960s. (Available as fine-art prints from the Shorpy Archive.) The site is named after Shorpy Higginbotham, a teenage coal miner who lived 100 years ago.

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