In the late 19th century on into the early 20th century, the Gibson Girl was considered the ideal woman. In essence, she was the Barbie of her time.
She like Barbie, portrayed women as strong individuals who could play sports while maintaining perfectly coiffed hair and dress. She was criticized by many, much like Barbie, for creating an unrealistic ideal of what women should look like: perfect proportions and long flowing hair. Despite the criticism she was a trend setter, a model for women in both dress and action, just like Barbie.
(excerpted from this website)
My maternal great-grandmother did her best to be hip and happening – to be a Gibson Girl. Here she is in a portrait taken in 1902...
This photo was taken before she married this man and had those babies. I wonder if she gave this to him as a Christmas present, given the inscription on the back. In all, she had 6 children...four girls and two boys. Sadly, she lost both of her boys...I believe one was struck by an automobile in childhood and the other was a fighter pilot who went down during World War II in the Pacific Theater and was never found. I know she and my great-grandfather were devastated by the loss of their remaining son and worked quite hard to find his whereabouts and recover his remains... but to no avail.