Thursday, November 22, 2018

What is Pin Up Modeling? The History of the Subtle Tease

What is Pin Up Modeling?
The History of the Subtle Tease

You may have noticed a pin up model while flipping through vintage memes, calendars or magazine advertisements. You may heard of classic Hollywood stars who were acclaimed pin up models such as Marilyn Monroe, Dorothy Dandridge and Betty Gable. A pin up model’s beauty, appeal and distinctive posing might have captivated you into a world of admiration.

A pin up model – or pin up girl – is a model whose appeal and attractiveness is seen within pop culture; especially within advertising, marketing and photography. Pin up photos would be cut out and used for informal display to be “pinned up” on walls from calendars, magazine ads, postcards to full length posters.

Pin up modeling originated from the very late 19th century and became widely popular during World War II and the 1950’s. Burlesque performers and actresses would use photographic images of themselves to promote their performances. It was assumed that the more “public” a woman would display herself, then the more her sexuality is available (1). With sexual fantasy in mind, many famous actresses of the early 20th century would be illustrated or photographed and sold for personal entertainment. The pin up girl gave an impression on how a woman should look and behave: very feminine, a damsel in distress, subtle sexuality, petite frame, long legs and highly attractive.  

During World War II, military branches used pin up modeling as propaganda to encourage young men to join service. The pin up style was often very subtle; featuring a young woman with sexual appeal and urgency.

Although Marilyn Monroe and Betty Gable are noted as the most famous in the pin up industry, there were many Black women that contributed the art form as well: Josephine Baker, Lottie Graves and Eartha Kitt.

In my personal experience with pin up modeling, I try to stick with the  advertising and product marketing aspect. 

(1) - Carole S. Vance, ed. "Seeking Ecstasy on the Battlefield: Danger and Pleasure in Nineteenth-Century Feminist Sexual Thought," in Pleasure and Danger: Exploring Female Sexuality (Boston: Routledge and K. Paul, 1984)

From Top to Bottom...
1. Betty Gable and her famous pin up pose
2. Marilyn Monroe "Los Angeles City Limit" pin up pose in her early years of pin up modeling
3. A World War II US Navy poster featuring a pin up girl
4. Josephine Baker with her famous banana skirt pin up impression

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