{Glamour} Pin-up’s from the 40’s& 50’s

Betty Grable

Pin up girl - Betty Grable.

I’ve always adored the fashions and the glamor of the 40’s and 50’s. Being a woman I love these pictures because they show the sweetness and sensuality at the same time we are capable of without being, well, playboy. The women were also in shape but were not hard like women are today, there was a softness about them. We all could learn from these treasures from the past.

Pin-up Girl Clothing
VivaLasVegas-Rockabilly Weekend April 5-8 2012!
Pinup Pumps-Snaz75

Birth of the pin-up

The term pin up girl was first used in the early 1940’s. The now famous pin up girl images were originally published in magazines, newspapers, calendars and postcards. As they became more popular, pin up girl posters such as the one of Betty Grable were mass produced This famous print of Betty Grable was taken in 1943 by Frank Powolny. 5 million copies of this print were distributed to GI’s during WWII. It was conscious contemporaneity and sexual self-awareness on stage that burlesque performers had reached a new age. With this increasing sense of awareness, burlesque actresses/performers used photographic advertisement as business cards to promote themselves and raise their popularity.These adverts and/or business cards could often been found in almost every green room, pinned-up or stuck into “frames of the looking-glasses, in the joints of the gas-burners, and sometimes lying on-top of the sacred cast-case itself.”Understanding the power of photographic advertisements to promote their shows, burlesque women self-constructed their identity to make themselves visible. Being recognized not only within the theater itself but as well outside, challenged the conventions of women’s place and women’s potential in the public sphere.

From mid. 19th century burlesque performers and their adverts/business card cresting their photo to early 20th century photographed oriental dancers in which were highly desired to female caricatures performing ‘ordinary’ things, like the Gibson Girl became popular. The ‘ordinariness’ that these drawn pictures suggested, was erotic. The fact that, unlike the photographed actresses and dancers generations earlier, fantasy gave artists the freedom to draw women, in particular the Gibson Girl in many different ways he would like.  This is where the popular “pin-up girls” from the 1920’s era begins.

From pin-up to bombshell

“Because the New Woman was symbolic of her new ideas about her sex, it was inevitable that she would also come to symbolize new ideas about sexuality.”Being sexually fantasized, famous actresses in early 20th century film were both drawn and photographed and put on posters to be sold for personal entertainment. The 1932 Esquire ‘men’s’ magazine featured many drawings like the Gibson Girl and “girlie” cartoons but most was most famous for their Varga girls.Varga girls were the next pin-up girls. Prior to WWII they were praised for their beauty and less focus was on their sexuality. However, during the war the drawings transformed into women playing dress-up in military drag and drawn in seductive manners, like that of a child playing with a doll. The Varga girls became so popular that from 1942-1946, due to a high volume of military demand, “9 million copies of the magazine-without adverts and free of charge was sent to American troops stationed overseas and in domestic bases.”Nevertheless, not one picture could be as significant or memorable as the Varga Girls nose art of the WWII bombers; not seen as prostitutes but patriots for good luck.

Feminism and the pin-up

“As sexual images of women multiplied in the popular culture, women participated actively in constructing arguments to endorse as well as protest them.”

In the early 20th century, where these drawings of women helped define certain body images such as being clean, being healthy, being wholesome and enjoyed by both “normal” men and women as time progressed it is no surprise that these images changed from respectable to illicit.

As early as 1869, women have been supporters and protestors of the pin-up. Women supporters of early pin-up content considered these to be a “positive post-Victorian rejection of bodily shame and a healthy respect for female beauty.”On the contrary, women protesters argued that these images were corrupting societal morality and saw these public sexual displays of women as lowering the standards of womanhood, destroying their dignity and harmful to both women and young adolescence.

Sexuality and the public sphere

“To understand both the complicated identity and the subversive nature of the nineteenth-century actress, one must also understand that the era’s views on women’s potential were inextricably ties to their sexuality, which in turn was tie to their level of visibility in the public sphere: regardless of race, class or background, it was generally assumed that the more public the woman, the more “public,” or available, her sexuality.”

Marilyn Monroe

Marilyn Monroe

Ava Gardner

Hollywood pin up girl - Ava Gardner

Jane Rusell

Pin-up girl - Jane Russell

Marie McDonal

Famous pin up girl - Marie Mc Donald

Betty Page

Pin-up hottie - Betty Page

Lauren Bacall

Lauren Bacall