We owe the pin-up movement to Jules Chéret, a Parisian artist who young and voluptuous women in posters and magazines back in the 1880’s. It took a decade for the trend to spread all around France and in the rest of the world.
Pin-ups became extremely popular during World War II: there’s no single soldier who didn’t have a Betty Grable or Rita Hayworth painting to keep their morale up. Grable even earned the title of “Most Popular Pin-up of World War II”!
After the war, pin-up girls quickly arrived in every American home, thanks to the famous pin-up calendar distributed by various businesses, and hung in every man’s garage or workshop.
Rita Hayworth – Betty Grable
The Marilyn Effect
In 1949, photographer Tom Kelley offered Marilyn Monroe 50$ (which was a lot of money for the time) to pose nude on a red velvet background. A few years later, Playboy magazine published one of her calendar shots named “Golden Dreams” in its first issue, which made an astonishing impact on the Americans. The now-legendary actress then instantly became the ultimate sex symbol, while the magazine became one of the liberalizing elements of the sexual revolution. Other pin-ups like Bettie Page, Brigitte Bardot, Sophia Loren, Jayne Mansfield, and Lili St.Claire also quickly emerged and became retro icons.
For more than a hundred years, pin-ups have created an earmark in the history of feminism and have been an inspiration in art and fashion. Pin-up is not about sex; it is a bold feminist act of ignoring the patriarchal pressure and embracing our bodies and our curves!
Romanie Smith – Dita Von Teese – Cassie Wood, singer of Slick Slick Revolver (credit: Frank Lam)