Monday, November 11, 2019

Is Pin Up Modeling Feminine. . . Or Feminist?

Welcome back beautiful readers! In this blog post I will be discussing the topic of whether pin up modeling is feminine…or feminist. This topic is something I’ve noticed over the years of doing pin up modeling but didn't give much thought on as I thought pin up modeling could be both feminine and feminist. I started doing pin up back in 2013. It all began when I came across photos of the modeling style while researching World War II information. I learned that pin up models’ appealing images were used as mass-production in pop culture. The "pin up girl" character was used in advertisement for brands, products, magazines, flyers, playing cards, posters and so much more. One can simply tear out the pin up image and “pin it up” on a wall. (Click here to learn more about the history of pin up modeling.)

Since I was working in theatre at that time, my desire for the stage and modeling kicked in and I decided to give pin up modeling a try. I fell in love with how adoring and girly I felt! I loved the way some pin up models such as Marilyn Monroe, Dorothy Dandridge, and the Gil Elvgren girls would pose and tease with such femininity and grace…and that’s the main thing I focused on – the femininity within the image.

Until I learned…’s feminist.

So here’s the story:

Over the years while competing in many pin up contests and following many talented pin up models – both vintage and modern style – on Instagram and YouTube, I noticed something with character. Many of them tended to have feminist views. Not all, of course. But many…like most. I figured it must be a trend among those types of women. I felt left out. I felt too “conservative” and “modest” to ever fit in that crowd. I was even called “too modest” during a pin up contest by another contestant! I continued doing authentic vintage pin up modeling, but it still didn’t feel the same. I then figured out that many women who enjoy pin up modeling also enjoy the rebellious side of the 1950’s – which is the rockabilly style and culture.

So how’s it feminist?

I actually had to learn from some feminism sources on how pin up modeling is practically feminist. To understand the platform of pin up modeling, it’s best to acknowledge the basics of modernity. As modernity prevailed in the late 19th century (late 1800’s) it promoted experimentation with women becoming more positive and comfortable with their bodies. Since modesty was still practiced, some women were able to experience this thought through entertainment such as burlesque, cabaret and some Hollywood movies. Modeling became a social construct of "depicting" the female body aside from advertising a product. This is how the concept of “sexy women” began to arise. In short, modern progression promotes the idea of women feeling proud and positive with expressing their bodies as they wish. While this sounds like a positive ideal, it may also create insecurity with some women as they began to feel threatened by other women and criticism on the other hand.  

This pin up girl isn't ashamed to show her sexy appeal.

As modernity progressed during the beginning of the 20th century (early 1900’s) we can see how pin up modeling continued to allow female expression of the body and sexual objectification of the female form.  In the 1940’s, pin up modeling was used as alluring propaganda on posters, flyers and newspapers for young men to join the service. Using attractive women with ideal female body types proved to win men over – and the military had more men join the service than expected. Throughout the 1950’s, pin up modeling became more alluring, daring and sexualized. Many people today nickname it “grandpa’s porn”. This explains why in today's generation we have such a heavy value on women's sexiness and sexual revolution - it isn't anything "new" in society but a value that's been progressing overtime. 

You're probably thinking: No wait…pin up modeling is feminine…because the women were pretty with modest, conservative dresses and had dainty, girly behavior. It’s the ultimate, ideal beautiful woman.

Yes, while pin up modeling appears to feature a feminine, attractive, dainty woman in a bad situation that’s not her fault; her mentality is that of a feminist. That’s because feminism promotes the idea of women expressing themselves sexually without feeling ashamed. We must remember that during the vintage times the culture still practiced modesty and conservatism which reflected in the fashion, and thus reflected within the pin up models’ style. Showing too much "leg" during the vintage times was considered ill-mannered. Modernity encourages women to break away from the tradition of modesty and express her body as she wishes without guilt.

Back then, some pin up items featured nude models, and men had to purchase these items discreetly. While examining an authentic vintage pin up photo, we can see how if she’s in a bad situation that it’s not her “fault” and she’s the victim of the circumstance because feminism supports victimhood in women. This is why there's always an outside force that's causing the pin up girl to be in a bad situation, whether it's the wind blowing up her dress or her car breaking down - it's never her fault internally. I used to interpret it as a dainty woman needing a man's help, but because she's showing her sexuality - the femininity cancels out.

A good girl in a "bad" situation. She's feminine, but sexy.  I used to interpret it 
as a dainty woman needing a man's help, but because she's showing 
her sexuality - the femininity cancels out.

The beautiful pin up girl remains a mystery; very alluring and will keep you gazing with her hypnotizing tease. Overall, she’s basically a feminist dressed up in feminine clothes as the culture called for. Today, many pin up models opt to wear revealing and less clothing as our millennial culture calls for less modesty and revealing fashion. The pin up model also indicates how female expression of the body, sexual objectification of the female form and anti-body shaming are all values of modern progression.

Despite being feminine and alluring, it isn't her "fault" that the garden hose
came on unexpectedly. Because she's a woman she can't be blamed. 

So why are a few modest, conservative women attracted to pin up modeling? Besides seeing it as fun and attention-grabbing, these types of women may not realize that pin up modeling was an underlying feminist feature during the vintage times. Remember, the vintage times were experiencing modernity - or the breakaway of traditional values. If you feel uncomfortable expressing sexual motives and teasing in your photos as a conservative girl, you can opt to model regular vintage-style photos featuring vintage fashion instead.

So…is pin up modeling feminine or feminist? Well, it’s feminist. The purpose of pin up photography is for visual pleasure and imaginative tease for a male. Since pin up is an art it continues to reflect the current culture. Dressing feminine can still be objectified if done a certain way. Tricky right? It’s the value that sets it apart!

Until next time! Xoxo

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