Women who fail to hide their femininity in uniform are branded “farby Barbies.” The phrase is derived from a derogatory term hardcore re-enactors apply to those whose impressions fall short of historical standards.
Female re-enactors seeking to avoid the farby label can turn to Wendy King Ramsburg of Hedgesville, W.Va. She runs an invitation-only website for women military re-enactors.
Ramsburg suggests wearing vests, jackets and trousers one size too big to hide telltale curves. She also provides instructions for making an authentic chest binder she says flattens and protects one’s breasts better than the sports bras some female re-enactors wear…
None of the women interviewed for this story said they dress up as men to press an agenda. Some are tomboys who’ve always preferred rough-and-tumble play. Most are history buffs who want to know firsthand what Civil War fighters, often their own ancestors, experienced.