This short story about “Pin Up Girls” can really trace its roots back in time, all the way to the time of The Flintstones. Archaeological evidence totally points to the fact that our ancestors have always worshiped the female form in one way or another.
From the stone talismans passed between early hunters, to the ancient Greeks and Romans and even through the all Middle Ages and then re-boosting itself in the Renaissance, young sexy girls were depicted in various styles and in many different art forms.
Nevertheless, the true beginnings of the “Pin UP” trend came up with the printing of images in newspapers and on postcards, thus making this delightful display available to many. Not long after that and someone thought to print them on calendars, thus giving this emerging art-form it’s name. All of this was happening in the late 1800s, mind you.
Then came a guy by the name of Charles Dana Gibson who was an illustrator at Life magazine and who is famous for the creation of the “Gibson Girl” (1895). He drew inspiration mostly from his wife and her side of the family and drew women with generous bosoms and hourglass figures, with luscious lips and silky, curly dark hair, which were a sort of “a woman of your dreams” at that time.
As you can imagine, a lot of other copycats and magazines came about, in order to profit from this beautiful yet simple and brilliant way to show off the female figure, and a new “industry” was beginning to take shape. With the come of WWI, so came the idea of propaganda. And what better way to make young men go to war, than by having a pretty and aloof girl, dressed in a military uniform, saying things like: “Fight” or “I wish I were a man, I’d join the Navy”
After the war ended and women tasted freedom like never before, the era of The Roaring ’20s came to be. A time of jazz and illegal alcohol, a time when girls were letting themselves go and were not afraid to show off a bit of skin. Rolf Armstrong was among those who best depicted the era in his prints.
By the beginning of WWII, the US government had some experience on how to use sexy images to entice young men to join the fighting. So much so that pin ups were found in almost every bunk bed, army garrison, every submarine and almost every pocket of a US soldier.
The late 1940s, ’50s and early ’60s were the pinnacle for the pin-up, when people realized that sex actually sells. Who would have thought, right? Anyway, the advertising men on Madison Av. took advantage of this and exploited it like never before.
In 1953 however, Hugh Hefner’s Playboy came into existence. Realizing that the future of the young girl’s body lies in photography, he took advantage and soon enough almost every magazine adopted his idea. This is when the traditional Pin Up Girl stopped being adorned by the many, who turned their attention to the more modern and more real looking photo of the naked body.