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Being Betty Boop

Updated on July 20, 2011

Boop Oop A Doop!

Betty Boop is one of the best known American icons in history. And the amazing thing about her is that she isn't even a real person! She's a cartoon character invented in the late 1920's, making her first appearance ever in the 1930 animated series, Talkartoon.

And the really funny this is that she was originally portrayed as a French poodle! A couple years later, in 1932, Betty's creator, Max Fleischer, changed her into in a human character, and this is the Betty Boop we all know and love.

It is rumored that Fleischer modeled the animated character after the popular singer at the time, Helen Kane. Betty's voice was done by a handful of different women in the very beginning, but starting in 1931, Mae Questel began voicing the character and continued to do so until she passed away in 1998.

Now that you know a bit about Betty's humble beginnings, let's explore her character a bit more. Then we can discuss ideas on how to throw a Betty Boop inspired flapper party, how to dress like her, and I'll give you plenty of links to Betty Boop merchandise to peruse.

Betty As A Sex Symbol

Few animated characters make it into the ranks of sex symbol. Some of the most well-known are Jessica Rabbit, She-Ra, Judy Jeston, Daphne (Scooby-Doo), and believe it or not, Lois Griffin. However, Betty Boop was definitely the first and is most certainly the most well-known.

In the 1930's America was suffering through the Great Depression. The care-free days of the flapper lifestyle, jazz music, boot-legging, and American prosperity were over. Many of the creative types of the era took it upon themselves to lift the American Spirit by coming up with ways to remind us of the good times.

For example, the board game Monopoly was was created in the 1930's. By playing this game, anyone could imagine themselves as being rich and successful--even if just for a few hours of play. During the Great Depression, many people lost themselves in their imaginations, remembering better times and hoping to experience them again in the future.

Betty Boop was a symbol of those better times. She was the ultimate flapper--young, carefree, sexy, a little naive, always getting into some kind of trouble, and definitely always looking for a good time. As a sex symbol, men were drawn to her not only because of her skimpy dress, cleavage, high heels, hoop earnings, and perfectly pouting lips, but also because of her youth. She was a woman in form, but a little girl at heart.

This mixture of physical maturity and mental immaturity has always been appealing to men--at least in a sex symbol. The fact that Betty's virtue was always in jeopardy was also exciting to men. To most men, being the man to claim the relinquishment of a woman's virginity is quite an accomplishment, and constantly seeing a woman on the verge of losing that virtue is sexually and mentally stimulating. Throw into the mix that she reminded men (and women) of better times, and it's no wonder she became such a loved icon and sex symbol.

Even today, over 80 years later, Betty is still one of the most recognized sex symbols in history. Men want her and women want to be her. We purchase merchandise with her image on it, women dress like her--sometimes without even knowing it--we get tattoos of her, women imitate her speech and characteristics--again, sometimes without even knowing it. Betty Boop, her looks, and her characteristics have become ingrained in our psyche, and I don't know about you, but I think that's pretty cool!

In the mid-1930's, regulations were placed on the portrayal of sexually suggestive content in the media industry. Betty Boop's cartoons were forced to become less sexually suggestive, her attire was forced to become less revealing, and the storylines, and her personality itself, were forced to become more mundane. In short, she lost her spunk.

However, her early cartoons and characteristics are what survived in the end. Today, with less restrictions and with the invention of the Internet, Betty's true character--her carefree, flapper personality--is what symbolizes her, and in turn, she symbolizes a time in our past and maybe even a time we look forward to in the future.

Betty As An Inspiration

During the Great Depression, Betty was a shining beacon to many...

Now, the 1920's was, in many people's opinions, the time of Free Love, Part I. Yes, most of us think of the 60's as the time of Free Love, but honestly, the decade before the Great Depression was the first time in American history when the youth of our nation were the most influential to our culture.

From the 1920's sprang Jazz music, the flapper dress and lifestyle, and boot-legging. It was the decade when America became a Super Power. Politics were changing, prosperity was everywhere, the average man could afford a vehicle, people were traveling, farming was thriving, no one was starving or going without. It was an amazing decade, and we realize now that we were bound to fall. The 1930's was a huge wake-up call to us.

But let's not focus on that right now, let's focus on the good times, let's focus on the Roaring 20's and how Betty Boop symbolized this time and gave all of us hope when there was so little hope to be had.

Betty As A Fashion Icon

Flappers of the 1920's were well-known and recognized for many different characteristics. Some of them included skimpy dresses, hairstyles of short bobs with fixed waves, dark pouting lips, youthful and somewhat naive personalities, a love for jazz music, and or course, the all consuming need to dance!

These are characteristics that Betty Boop's creator Max Fleischer, made sure to instill in his creation. These are characteristics that many young women admired and sought to copy. Even today, young women wouldn't mind being a bit more like Betty Boop. Because her character was looked-up to so much, she became a fashion icon and remains one today.

In fact, many fashion trends of the 1920's Flapper Era have made come-backs in the fashion world. Short dress and high heels will always be in style, but in the last 8 decades, many 20's trends have become popular again. Some examples are Art Deco jewelery, heavily make-up eyes and darkly colored lips, donning of hats and feather boas, straight-falling dresses, headbands, and decorative feather hair pieces.

Along with the physical fashion trends, the 60's saw a re-emergence of female individuality and sexuality, the 90's saw a re-emergence of an interest in Jazz and Swing music and a new interest in flapper dances such as the Jitterbug and the Charleston. Who knows what the future holds.

No one can deny, however, that the Roaring 20's were one of the most influential times in American history, that the flappers are one of the most memorable icons of that time, and that Betty Boop does an amazing job of symbolizing and capturing that time.

Now To Throw A Betty Boop Inspired Party!

So now you know all about Betty Boop. You understand why we love her so much. The next logical step is, of course, to throw a 1920's themed, Betty Boop Inspired Party!

The Roaring 20's is an extremely fun theme for a party, and I bet everyone you invite will be thrilled to dress-up, so definitely make it a costume party. The women can dress as flappers and the men can dress up in their zoot suits, complete with felt hat, walking cane, and a cigar dangling from their lips.

Make it a classy party with cocktails, Jazz music playing in the background, a fun game of poker in the back room, and some room to dance! Serve sophisticated foods that were popular in the 20's such as Chinese food, Caesar Salads, Pineapple Upside-Down Cake, Italian cuisine, and shellfish dishes.

Decorations can vary. You could go with a Speakeasy theme--a somewhat run-down, underground, illegal "joint" that sold booze in the 20's--or a more upscale, classy Jazz club. However you decorate, be sure to stick with the theme; balloons and streamers are not the way to go!

If you are the hostess, then you definitely need to be the star of the show, dressing as Betty Boop herself. If you're the host, be sure to dress the part and have your wife or girlfriend dress as Betty.

And As For Accessories, Check Out These Finds On Amazon:

And Leave Us A Comment! - We'd love to hear what you have to say!

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    • BobBlackUK profile image

      BobBlackUK 5 years ago

      Some great ideas on your party lenses!

    • themeaparty profile image

      themeaparty 6 years ago

      Trying to get my wife to wear one, lol!

    • ClassyGals profile image

      Cynthia Davis 6 years ago from Pittsburgh

      Love the Betty Boop costumes!