Revealed: The fascinating (and seedy) roots of the traditional Baby Dolls of Mardi Gras

  • Baby Dolls  founded by group of African-American workers in NOLA’s red light district around  1912
  • Evolved  into colorful tradition of wearing revealing garments and empowering  women

By Beth Stebner

Article Reprintbaby dolls 2

The ‘Baby Dolls’ marched through the streets  of New Orleans during Mardi Gras last week with hardly any of the throng lining  the streets having any idea of the seedy truth behind the tradition.

The history Baby Dolls spans more than a  century, and began with the African-American women working in the red light  district in Storyville.

The Baby Dolls came together around 1912, as  the word ‘baby’ began its run as both a term of endearment and a condescending  slight toward women working as prostitutes.

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