But don't let the evening gloves fool you — this is a tense history of deep social change. Much of debutante culture arose from attempts to preserve narratives of power and culture and deliberately excluded many on the basis of religion, race and class. (Black debutante culture, which arose in response, is offered as a more meaningful contrast to the increasingly calcified trappings elsewhere.) Luckily, Richardson has a wry touch with even the most mercenary moments. Describing public backlash to the 19th century fad of rich American girls heading overseas to marry impoverished gentry, she notes the general tenor of the press: "American debutantes were to be considered a national resource, like mineral deposits, and their money should go to American men, not foreigners."
Sunday, September 10, 2023
From my wishlist, "The Season: A Social History of the Debutante " is $2.99 today