"It girl" is a term for a young woman who possesses the quality "It", absolute attraction. The early usage of the concept "it" in this meaning may be seen in a story by Rudyard Kipling: "It isn't beauty, so to speak, nor good talk necessarily. It's just 'It'." Elinor Glyn lectured: "With 'It' you win all men if you are a woman and all women if you are a man. 'It' can be a quality of the mind as well as a physical attraction." The expression reached global attention in 1927, with the film It, starring Clara Bow.
While "it girls" of today are commonly young females in the worlds of fashion or show-business, the original concept focused on personality. Kipling's "Mrs. Bathurst" was a middle-aged widow, and Glyn significantly kept both Benito Mussolini and the doorman at the Ambassador hotel on her "It men" list.
Kipling, Glyn and Clara Bow
The invention of the concept "It" is often attributed to Elinor Glyn, who wrote the original magazine story which inspired the film It. However, Rudyard Kipling, in the short story "Mrs. Bathurst", had introduced "It" as early as 1904.
In the introduction to the film, Glyn described the term thus:
"It" is that quality possessed by some which draws all others with its magnetic force. With "It" you win all men if you are a woman and all women if you are a man.
Self-confidence and indifference whether you are pleasing or not and something in you that gives the impression that you are not at all cold.
Glyn stated that "Personality plus" was the rock-bottom definition and that "conceit" destroyed "It".
However, the movie also plays with the notion that "It" is a quality which eschews definitions and categories; consequently the girl portrayed by Bow is an amalgam of an ingenue and a femme fatale, with a touch of "material girl". By contrast, her rival is equally young and comely, and rich, blonde and well-bred to boot, but she simply hasn't got "It".
The movie was planned as a special showcase for the popular Paramount Studios star Clara Bow, and her spectacular performance introduced the term "It" to the cultural lexicon. Bow said she wasn't sure what "It" meant, although she identified Lana Turner, and later Marilyn Monroe, as It girls, and Robert Mitchum as an It man.
Modern "It girls"
The writer William Donaldson observed that, having initially been coined in the 1920s, the term was applied in the 1990s to describe "a young woman of noticeable 'sex appeal' who occupied herself by shoe shopping and party-going."
- "Mrs. Bathurst"(1904)
- Introduction script from the movie It (USA, 1927)
- March, 1927, Photoplay Magazine
- J. Morella, E. Epstein. "The 'It' Girl". p.84. Delacorte Press. 1976. ISBN 0-440-04127-9
- "‘Elstree Calling,’ British Reply to ‘Hollywood Revue’ Is Disappointing An Experiment". The New York Times. March 9, 1930.
- April 17, 1932, Galveston Daily News
- August 25, 1955, San Antonio Light
- The Southtown Economist, February 4, 1927
- January 1(private showing), 1927, Variety
- Waterloo Daily Courier, September 21, 1950
- September 21, 1950, Waterloo Daily Courier
- Stenn, David (1988). Clara Bow:Runnin' Wild. Doubleday. p. 272. ISBN 0-385-24125-9.
- It Girl Musical
- Mills, Laura; Vasilyeva, Nataliya (14 June 2012). "Ksenia Sobchak: Russian It Girl’s path from parties to protests". Toronto Star. Retrieved 3 July 2012.
- Brewer's Rogues, Villains and Eccentrics, 2002
- "It-Girl Sara Schätzl aus München Öffentlich bis zum Zusammenbruch". Süddeutsche Zeitung. 31 January 2012. Retrieved 2 July 2013.
- Schneider, Martin. "Sara Schätzl: Warnung vor dem Roten Teppich". Retrieved 2 July 2013.
- Clara Bow, the original It girl