I have a secret obsession with all-girl institutions. Growing up a tomboy, I’d read about British boarding schools and daydream about the joys of bosom friends and uniforms. When I actually went away to boarding school, some of my most fondly-remembered times were after hours in my all-girls dorm, where we’d cram ourselves in to a tiny little room barely big enough for a microwave and an ironing board and gossip the night away. I was never a very girly girl, but my imagination was always captured by instances of female camaraderie.
Recently, when thinking about women banding together, the Land Girls, or the Women’s Land Army, keeps popping insistently into my thoughts. These were the women who took over the agricultural jobs in the UK during WWI and WWII– a cow-milking answer to Rosie the Riveter. They were generally young girls who came in from the cities, rolled up their sleeves, and set about serving their country by making sure the while the men were away at war. They plowed fields, tended crops, and turned trees into telephone poles. They were sexual revolutionaries and looked damn good doing it.
They were made famous through things like Angela Huth’s charming book and the subsequent film and BBC adaptation (all of which I strongly urge you to pick up for a bit of period fun.) Land Girls were classic examples of cool girly style: badass enough to leave their homes and take up work on a farm, but still managing to maintain an iconic freshly-scrubbed sexiness. Most of them tended to be pretty young girls, out away from home for the very first time, so you can just imagine what sort of racy stories they had to tell! I love my mental pictures of rosy-cheeked lasses, freshly turned out in their practical little uniforms, heartily hauling barrows before putting on a quick slash of lipstick and heading off to town to flirt with the few boys left around. I’m sure I’m romanticising it quite a bit, but the accounts I’ve read of the time point to incredible adventures and stories of girls managing to be strong together at a time of great national hardship. What a time they must have had!
I’ve assembled a collection of pictures so you can see for yourselves the charm of the Land Girls.
The uniforms. How awesome is she?
Being inspected by the Queen!
America had Land Girls too. I dig the cute utilitarian outfits.
Reunion of former Land Girls. How much fun would it be to go out for a drink with them and hear their stories?
[via 1, 2, 3 (interesting interview), 4 (awesome resource), 5 (BBC site full of interviews and fun facts), 6 ]