Blondes and Bombshells: The Influence of Pin-Up Images in the American West

Pendleton, Chase
Imagine a lovely, far beyond average beauty, lounging beside a pool. Her blonde hair shining in the sun, sporting, of course, the latest trends in both hair and makeup. Everything about her screams glamour. The more people stare, the more entranced they become by her unattainable beauty; yet, they realize her beauty may be attainable with one easy step -- buying a bottle of Coppertone sunscreen. The pin-up image created by Coppertone to sell skincare is an excellent example the prominence of these images in America. Marketing agencies throughout the mid twentieth century used pin-up images to sell products, persuade people, and promote messages. The origins of the pin-up image are debatable. Some date its creation to World War II, with images of Hollywood beauties in provocative poses pinned on walls or inside lockers. Others believe the pin-up image emerged from the art world as a way to admire the female form well before the 1940s. Nonetheless, this paper will focus on influence of the pin-up from the German invasion of Poland in 1939 through the early 1970s. The most influential pin-ups got their start in the 1940s; for instance, a modeling agency discovered Marilyn Monroe while she worked in a factory during WWII. And, though Monroe became a famous Hollywood beauty, there were other big names that graced army barracks before her first photo. Women, like Joan Crawford and Paulette Goddard, helped not only men through the war, but also helped women keep their traditional identity and roles as they assumed traditionally male workforce positions while men were overseas. The pin-up image is vital to American history and the development of feminine identity from the 1940s to the early 1970s; to discard these images as trivial pornography designated towards a male audience hell-bent on buying anything supported by a pretty lady would be to throw aside an important era in the developing American West.
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