I am not a feminist by any means. Actually, sometimes I would really like to think that I could be a stay at home lady that lunches, but then I think after a week or two I would be bored and want to return back to work. I have never felt the urge to burn my bra although sometime I do like to believe all sexes are equal as I struggle to open a jar in the kitchen.
I think that my confused feelings on equality spread to the appreciation of pin ups. On the one hand, I love the iconography of them. The faultless woman, who look perfect in their idealised ditsy poses as their clothes seemingly accidentally falling off, or getting caught on conveniently misplaced bits of furniture, as they girlishly giggle or have a look of feigned surprise on their face as their beautiful underwear is exposed. On the other hand I think that the images give a false representation of what women should be and potentially feed poor self image.
I think, with these sorts of works, it is necessary to remember the time when they were created. Gil Elvgren, one of the most renown creators of Pin ups for calendar producers Brown and Bigelow between 1945 and 1972, he did also produce art works for Coca Cola and General Electrics. When I think about pin ups, they are definitely and art form I associate with a vintage era, although many reproduce the style now for the more modern woman, being adorned with tattoos or in some form of steampunk attire.
What I really like about Elvgren’s style is that the woman is the main focal point of the piece, nothing detracting from either her or the immediate action that is surrounding her. In this one, it is simply a redhead enjoying lounging on a sunbather. You can see her beautiful hourglass shape body, scantily clad with the turquoise bikini, as she seductively raises her sunglasses to view something that has caught her eye.
The pin up world oozes seduction on the canvas, each woman’s femininity displayed slightly differently, from the knowing look, to the naive, covering a range of things that are basically created to entice the viewer.
This history of pin ups derives from burlesque performers and actresses “pinning up” photographs and business cards backstage to gather notoriety in the early 19th century. They understood that displaying themselves and their feminine charms would get them known not only to that theatre, but also by others. There is an intrinsic link between how public a woman was and how “available” she was.
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. Among the celebrities who were considered sex symbols, one of the most popular early pin-up girls was Betty Grable, whose poster was ubiquitous in the lockers of G.I.s during World War II.
It would appear that feminism was as confused about pin ups as I still am, some for it and some against. The for argument spanning the genre saw it as “positive post-Victorian rejection of bodily shame and a healthy respect for female beauty”. Where as those who were against saw this movement as degrading to women and lowering their social morality. Some of the arguments covered that the women in the pictures were wholesome, fun loving and clean living women, and originally the pictures were enjoyed by men and women alike, but somewhere along the way they became linked with the sex industry and became illicit
How do you feel about pin ups? Why not tell me in the comments? Like this post? Why not share it?