Theresa Kaminski

After Japanese forces occupied the Philippines in early 1942, American civilians and other Allied nationals were forced into internment camps. The camps had a plethora of rules, including a ban on “commingling”–an enforced separation between adult men and women, including husbands and wives–and rules on what women could and could not wear.

Camp commandants demanded that women be “decently” attired at all times with discreet necklines and long skirts, just like proper Japanese women. But because of the almost unrelenting heat of the Philippines, American women tried to get away with as few articles of clothing as possible while remaining seemly by their own standards.

In the Santo Tomas internment camp in Manila, women were particularly forbidden to wear shorts of any length. The camp’s civilian Executive Committee, run by men of the Allied countries, approved of the ban no matter how much the women resisted, believing they were saving…

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