As a few articles from the weekend prove, women who fancy themselves "Modern Pin-Ups" often ignore the realities of the 1950s. (But, yes, the hair was great!)
I get it, I do. I love pinup fashion and hourglass silhouettes and classic glamor and the appeal isn't lost on me. But a lot of "modern pinup" culture seems based on a very idealized idea of the 1950s, of what women like Bettie Page actually lived through and were made of. Postmodernism is one thing; historical misrepresentation? Quite another. Take Veronica Orso-Flores, a lovely Texas denizen and self-described modern pinup who describes her life of 50s-style cheesecake modeling to the Houston Chronicle as "all dress-up."
For "Miss V," being a pinup means being a lady: well-groomed, well-mannered, impeccably outfitted."I don't think people know how to be a lady these days, how to carry yourself, when to hold your tongue," Orso-Flores said at her home recently, as she served a guest cupcakes and lemon water.
The article describes her brand of kittenish appeal as a nice alternative to our culture's overt sexualization. But that's presuming that we have no alternative to some form of sexualization, right?
It's a strange dichotomy, this mixing of the 50s housewife ideal and the pin-up ideal, both of which require a lot of, well, idealization. Bettie Page stood out because she maintained an aura of wholesomeness in a decidedly seedy world, and the gloss of camp conspired to idealize what was hardly the lifestyle of the average "lady." Pinups did not generally make cupcakes; housewives did not pose for calendars. This seems to be the same paradox at work with those "Time-Warp Wives" who live an idealized 50's life: these women are drawn to the rigidity of the era's roles and mores, but don't seem to recognize that choosing these same roles is totally antithetical to the spirit of the age they idealize.