Bodies and appearance
in Being boys
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Chapter 3 compares and contrasts anxieties and concerns which surrounded the clothed and unclothed male body. Male bodies had a powerful cultural resonance after the war, in rehabilitative initiatives and emerging consumer industries. By the 1930s, the physical power of the masses, from the Bolshevik Revolution to images of crowds at play, was informing a national iconography of controlled and disciplined youth, very visible in newsreel footage from the 1930s of the Scouts, BB, boys' clubs, and totalitarian youth movements in Germany and Italy. At an individual level, young men's physical sense of self was coming under the growing influence of visual forms and commercial leisure trends, bringing working-class young men into contact with new models of personal behaviour and social interaction which made many sensitive to style, fashion and appearance. This chapter examines how working-class young men mediated the feminised connotations of consumption in negotiating these new physical images and ways of performing masculinity.

Being boys

Youth, leisure and identity in the inter-war years

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