The evolution of the pin-up’s, by Sarah Willoughby

Since pin-ups and the burlesque dancer Dita Von teese rose to fame with her infamous retro style, influenced by the 1940’s cinema and the classic retro style, it caused an epidemic of followers who recreated the retro look.
Today’s pin-up models still maintain the classy appearance of the 1950’s influence but spicing it up with the 21st century, such as tattoos, piercings and combining other fashionable statements, like fetish, Goth and gore!
But when did pin-ups suddenly appear? Who were the original pin-ups? Here is the history of pin-ups.
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1910’s-1920’s- Pin-ups of this era, Bebe Daniels, Colleen Moore and Belle Bennet
Although Pin-ups models dated back to the mid-to-late 1800’s, featuring nude in paintings and artistic portraits, but the term ‘Pin-up’ was actually used to describe women who graced the screens. Most pin-ups of the era were the silent actresses and/ or fashion models, like Colleen Moore, Bebe Daniels and Belle Bennet. Back in the day, these women were less likely to be seen naked or topless, even in skimpy undergarments, they were mainly seen in well covered silky sleepwear (in some cases underwear) and one pieced one suits, maintaining some respectable modesty.
The main focus was her face, where it boasted masculine and feminine features of a strong, stern chin complimenting angelic innocent eyes.
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1930’s-1940’s- Pin –ups of this era, Jean Harlow.
The concept of the pin-up models hadn’t changed much since the 1920’s; women were still posing in underwear and swimwear however the outfits became skimpier, along with the women who became ever sexier and furthermore feminine.
Taking pages out of Jean Harlow’s book, women were more sultry baring high cheekbones and fuller lips with loose bouncy curls.
Along with their figures becoming less masculine, before pin-ups were ordinary looking women who sowed broad shoulders and fuller figures- where as by this time, pin-ups were slimmer in an aspect with rounded shoulders.
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1950’s- Pinups of that era: Marilyn Monroe, Brigette Bardot and Sophia Loren.
It was the 1950’s, pin-ups had become more mainstream as focus was maintained mainly on Hollywood and their starlets- most famously, Marilyn Monroe, who became one of the most iconic and most recognised pin-ups….Ever, with her distinctive platinum blond locks and coy personality that made her stand out amongst many others.
These pin-ups had become more revealing, either posing nude or in equally revealing lingerie, like Sophia Loren and Brigette Bardot, who were more or less famous for being the ‘naked’ pin-ups of the fifties.
Most of the pin-ups began to become individual and distinctive in their looks- instead of being generic and bland.
Although, despite this, most pin-ups were incredibly glamorous, with spectacular curvy shapes, attractive sultry, facial features with perfectly tamed eyebrows (that were typically thick and arched), wonderful cat-shaped eyes and those wonderful fuller lips.
Everyone has a favourite pin-up from this era, whether it is the ever so famous Marilyn Monroe to minor yet equal Esther Williams.

1960-1980’s- Pin-ups of that Era: Twiggy, Raquel Welch and Farrah Fawcett.
Moving swiftly on from the seductive and sensual 1980’s, pin-ups had become more ‘select’ by hailing the era of ‘the supermodel’.
Unlike the previous years where recent women could be associated with normal women by their ordinary, ‘girl-next-door’ appearance by their well rounded and shapely bodies, the sixties through to the late eighties seemed to have a different approach, focusing it on the models that have ‘had-to-achieve’ figures.
Typically they were long legged females who projected a sense of impressive height baring amazingly (yet dangerously) thin, waif like shapes- like the iconic Twiggy (although 5’6), got her name and made an impact on the modelling world by her skinny physique, and the beautiful Raquel Welch (who although was a little more ‘shapely’ than the average supermodel, bared the eye-popping toned and slender figure- that most women would die to have).
It seemed that not just anyone could be become a pin-up.
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1990’s Pin-ups of this era: Pamela Anderson and Anna Nicole Smith.
The nineties started to become more obsessed with female empowerment and cosmetic surgery, hence why this might have been incorporated into the iconic women who were considered pin-ups.
It was like a failed re-invention of the fifties icons, as they tried modernise the sensuous appeal that Marilyn Monroe left behind.
They were very generic.
Tanned olive (almost orange) skin, long trashy golden locks matched with fuller figures that typically bared unbelievably huge breasts (usually the result of plastic surgery).
Like the Anna-Nicole Smith and actress Pamela Anderson were considered the pin-ups of the 90’s and boasted the ‘plastic fantastic Barbie’ appeal, as they posed nude for more adult magazines like Playboy.
It was cheaper and sleazy compared to the other pin-ups who possessed some dignity.
I guess, they’re like Marmite, you either like them or you don’t.
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2000’s-Pin-ups of this era: Dita von Teese, Masuimi Max and Bernie Dexter.
Rebirth and reinvention as we come to the present day pin-ups, who are traditionalist- taking inspiration from the 20’s, 30’s 40’s and 50’s (in some cases the 90’s) and re-vamping it!
They took inspiration from their idols and legend such as Marilyn Monroe, Bettie Page and Jean Harlow and spicing it up with pure sexy metal- aka, piercings and plenty of tattoos.
These days it’s more diverse and individual depending on the women themselves. Some prefer to keep it traditional, re-enacting the look of a few previous pin-ups while others prefer to be original, taking risks and dressing up in rubber, PVC and fetish –but mostly they do the same thing by trying to pick-up the sex appeal that the legend left behind.
Also another point, women didn’t have to be a certain size, shape nor height to be considered a pin-up.
ANYONE could, as long as they felt confident in themselves and wanted to project this to her audience!
We have the wonderful Dita Von Teese (who helped the movement of today’s retro pin-up and the art of burlesque dancing)- who took inspiration from her idol Bette Page and the 1940’s sophisticated. Fashion and incorporated this into her dance moves and overall look.
Or the pin-up’s of the underground, like Masuimi Max, a stripper, performer and model who is unique, blending punk and metal elements (like her infamous Mohawk, tattoos and masculine attitude) with a sultry and seductive decorum.

To rap this up, it seem that pin-ups one more or less about being body confident and being happy within themselves- rather than conforming to how they think that they should look.
None the less, these women have been pleasing our eyes for years and will carry on to do so.
So let’s praise these pin-ups shall we.

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