Essay: The Settler Fantasies Woven into the Prairie Dresses


Those of you who know me personally will know that I have absolutely no interest in fashion. Apparently during the 2010s the Prairie Dress – shapeless, high-necked, ‘modest’ dresses- became a thing.


Recently I’ve been listening to podcasts by Heather Cox Richardson, and she has referred several times to Little House on the Prairie and the Prairie Dress as a way of valorizing conservative, white, racialized, gendered American values that completely elide any consideration of Native American and African American presence in the homesteading   American past.

The Settler Fantasies Woven into the Prairie Dresses by Peggy O’Donnell, published on the Jezebel website explores the reincarnation of the prairie dress, the attitudes in Laura Ingalls Wilder’s work and questions the statements that adoption of the prairie dress make about women, femininity and gender.

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