Degas bather

When Americans Started Bathing

The first baths weren't about getting clean or relaxing. In the 1860s, experts agreed that the best kind of bath was a brief plunge in cold water.
manly salad

When Salad Was Manly AF

Esquire, 1940: “Salads are really the man’s department... Only a man can make a perfect salad.”
drag queen

The Unspeakable Linguistics of Camp

When gay and lesbian people had to invent their own languages with which to talk with each other, camp led the way.
segregation

How Global Colonialism Shaped Segregation

One of the first U.S. municipal laws demanding residential segregation, passed in 1910 in Baltimore, has roots in European colonial policies.
Pequot war engraving

When Native Americans Were Slaves

Initially, Indian slavery was considered different from African slavery in the early Anglo-American colonial world, but this split did last for long.
Selfie in Paris

What to Do When Social Media Inspires Envy

In the case of envy, social media works in three closely related ways: by increasing proximity, by eliminating encapsulation and by rejecting concealment.
supermarket illustration

Sex and the Supermarket

Supermarkets represented a major innovation in food distribution—a gendered innovation that encouraged women to find sexual pleasure in subordination.
Cars crashing at the demolition derby

A Crash Course in the Demolition Derby

The demolition derby was ready-made for the age of planned obsolescence from automobile manufacturers, who happily sponsored demolition derby venues.
Boys fishing in a bayou, Schriever, LA, 1940

Why Our Work Affects How Kids Play

The way we think about the skills kids need—and even how they should play—is deeply tied to the characteristics we expect them to need as adults.
Presidential facial hair

The Meaning of a Mustache

To shave or not to shave? At the start of the twentieth century, a trend away from facial hair reflected dramatic social and economic shifts.