The baby dolls of Mardi Gras.
Prostitutes have often been at the forefront of challenges to gender conventions. Already at the fringes of “respectable society,” by choice or circumstance, these women often have less to lose than others.
The Mardi Gras Baby Dolls are an excellent example:
"The baby doll tradition began in 1912. That year a group of African American sex workers dressed up like baby dolls and took to the streets to celebrate Mardi Gras. Calling your lover ‘baby’ had just become part of the English language. Meanwhile, actual baby dolls, the toy, were rare.
By dressing up this way, they flouted both gender and race rules. Women were largely excluded from masking for Mardi Gras and African Americans were still living under Jim Crow. Black women, by virtue of being both Black and female, were particularly devalued, sex workers ever more so. Asserting themselves as baby dolls, then, was a way of arguing that they were worth something.”
Read more at Sociological Images.