The Woman Behind the Camera Part II

STOP! In the name of blogs! Before you read this post!

Please head over to The Pinup Professor for Part I of the post!

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I was so excited to have the opportunity to be a guest blogger for The Pinup Professor this week! It was an absolute honor, as her blog is one of my favorites. In this very special two part Tuesday Tribute, you’ll get to read about the woman behind the camera on Annie’s blog, and more information about the transformation process here.

Bunny Yeager, similar to Bettie Page and Millicent Patrick, is an inspirational woman who left her mark as a pinup model and photographer. Thus, Bunny embodies the glamorous, sexy, model and the comfortably cute artist. Why pick and choose one persona when you can be anything you want to be?

For this transformation tribute, I chose three Bunny looks to recreate with the help of my friend! For all of the looks, I used a vintage brownie camera I found off of Etsy for $10. The flash did not have the little lamp, but since it was merely used as a prop, I didn’t think of making it look realistic at that moment!

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The first look, also featured on the Pinup Professor, is one of my favorite photos of Bettie and Bunny working together.

I love this photo because of the dynamic between Bettie and Bunny. You see Bunny admiring Bettie, and Bettie looks absolutely liberated. Since the beach was such an important part of Bunny and Bettie’s work together, I knew I just had to include a beach scene. After all, Bunny lived in Miami and many of Bettie’s photos as well as her own self-portraits were on the beach. Being at the beach, feeling the [extreme] wind in your hair, and the sand in your toes is such a relaxing experience – it’s probably another factor why Bunny was so comfortable shooting at the beach!

For this look, I borrowed my friend’s vintage tiki shirt, which I actually found for him at Slone Vintage in Burbank, and the Laura Byrnes high waisted shorts in olive twill from Pinup Girl Clothing. Funny enough, my shoes are actually Bettie Page, but they no longer carry this style on their site!

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The second look was from a self-portrait of Bunny Yeager with Artistic lighting, taking in Miami in the 1950s. She is wearing casual leggings and a seemingly white, or a lightly colored cardigan. To be honest, I got rid of my basic leggings a long time ago. I definitely did not want to make an additional purchase for a photo recreation, so I opted for my Funny Face pants by Pinup Girl Clothing. Since the pants are actually much longer on me that leggings, I simply folded the pants in to look more like the length of Bunny’s leggings. I also paired it with a white H&M cardigan I got from their bargain rack. This was definitely one of my favorite looks to recreate because the items were so basic and can easily be found in most closets.

Luckily, I had my makeup and hair done professionally in the morning by Erika Reno and Missy Firestone for a different very special photoshoot, so it was great to have my hair and makeup done for this special tribute! Both ladies are absolutely amazing and super sweet!

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The third and final look I recreated was not necessarily trying to mimic the photo exactly as it is, but just to have some fun as well!

For this recreation, I used the Laura Byrnes California Sean top and high waisted shorts in olive twill from Pinup Girl Clothing. I opted for this blouse because it had the classic neckline in her photo and similar length sleeves. Once again, I already have this top in my closet so I didn’t spend any more on clothes to recreate this look. What I love about more of Bunny’s looks as a photographer is that she primarily wore basic pieces which can be mixed and matched easily. In an era of exquisite couture gowns, fabulous pinup outfits, and gorgeous tea length dresses and petticoats, these Bunny outfits definitely stand out!

I also wanted to include the following two photos, just because  I loved them so much!
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Thanks for reading Part I and II of this special Tuesday Tributes post! Until next time ❤

 

 

Bettie Page: Pinup Feminist?

I want to thank Ani for graciously inviting me to share my thoughts on her fabulous blog. Please check out my site, The Pinup Professor, for more articles about feminism and pinup fashion.  Thanks for reading!

Virgin or slut? Madonna or whore? For centuries, these reductive dichotomies have distinguished and characterized female sexual identity. We women are often forced to negotiate between tautological extremes, hoping to avoid allegations of promiscuity while maintaining our sexual autonomy. In a world full of Kardashians, we’re told, be an Audrey. We judge ourselves, and other women, based on binary systems of evaluation. But these dueling stereotypes can never fully capture our sexuality and our identity as women.

 

Throughout history, feminists have confronted oppressive constructions of female identity, including the Victorian “cult of true womanhood” and the feminine mystique of the mid-century. While many women, like Betty Friedan, articulated their objections through the written word, another Bettie chose quite a different medium to challenge patriarchal norms.

Now, it would be disingenuous to suggest that Bettie Page’s motivation for modeling was to “smash the patriarchy.” It wasn’t. Nevertheless, her ability to add complexity and nuance to the pinup genre, which, at the time, had been hijacked by the one-dimensional “Playmate,” was, in its own way, revolutionary, and dare I say…feminist?

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When Bettie Page first appeared in Bizarre magazine, pinup art had devolved from the empowered and subversive Vargas Girl to the submissive and childlike Playboy Playmate. Maria Buszek, in her book Pin-up Grrrls, attributes the regression to the postwar climate in America. Starting from the trauma of war, patriarchal America was anxious to return to a simpler time with clearly delineated gender roles. Men worked. Women stayed at home. Gone were the complicated, dangerous femme fatales; they were quickly replaced by images of subdued and compliant bombshells. As Hugh Hefner related, “Playboy is not interested in the mysterious, difficult woman…” His magazine, saturated with the male gaze, was unapologetically produced for the exclusive perusal and enjoyment of men.

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It was into this particular milieu that Bettie Page interjected her brazen good looks and lighthearted personality. Rather than being reduced to a sex object, Bettie Page turned herself into the subject of a particular brand of bondage-and-domination (B-D) photography. Instead of pigeon-holing herself as a “top” or a “bottom” (which was customary within the genre), Page performed both roles with her signature, over-the-top playfulness. Her sexuality was multidimensional, self-directed, and fun. She was also photographed by women (the indelible Bunny Yeager) for both male and female audiences. In effect, Bettie Page completely subverted the pinup standard of the day.

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I suppose that’s why I find it surprising that, just earlier this year, a house mural of Bettie Page was defaced with the note, “Stop exploiting women’s bodies” signed by “some feminists.” The argument, unfortunately, is one that has persisted within the women’s movement for quite some time. I have read too many many feminist blogs slut-shaming women for participating in burlesque or for wearing “revealing” clothing. While perhaps well-intentioned, these women are complicit in the same type of dichotomic thinking which reduces women to sluts or saints by conflating sexual expression with exploitation. The owner of the Washington house mural, Jessica Baxter, responded perfectly by obscuring the “feminist” message with one of her own: “Autonomous sexuality is empowerment. Telling a woman to cover up is oppression.”

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I think it’s about time that we abandon the archaic and rigid binaries that have defined us for so long. While I would personally never cover up for religious reasons or bare all as a pinup model, many women who do so are exercising personal agency, and that—in and of itself—is a feminist undertaking. And based on that criterion alone, Bettie Page may have very well have been a pinup feminist.