10.10.12

Bettie Page – The Iconic Pin Up Girl



What with the corset giveaway and possible Halloween plans, I've been pondering corsets a lot recently. We’re now quite used to seeing images of models posing provocatively, pouting at the camera or cheekily looking down the lens. Some wearing lingerie, swimwear, or perhaps they’re nude. We’re so used to such titillation, that the impact has somewhat been diluted. Step back in time to the 1950s though and the shock factor of such a photo shoot was not diluted at all. It was not publicly accepted as right or normal, and outraged many. You thought glamour modelling was a recent invention? Wrong. Meet Miss Bettie Page….



Born April 22nd 1923 in Nashville Tennessee USA, and living to be eighty five, Bettie Page went on to be of the world’s most famous models, despite her modelling career being somewhat short. In the late 1940s Bettie was a secretary, she met a keen photographer and happily sat for him as a model. Bettie, not shy to strike a pose, made the perfect muse and the result was a pin up style portfolio. Laws on producing nude photography at this time were strict, resulting in secret camera clubs being created. Bettie with her free spirited attitude, her uninhibited nature and her stunning looks was an instant hit. Happy to pose in lingerie or nude, the thousands of photos now freely available to view of Bettie Page, provide a remarkable archive of photographic and fashion history.


Possibly one of the most famous and recorded pin up girls in a corset, Bettie used the lacing to emphasise her already small waist, with more than a natural  ten inch difference between her waist and hips, she reduced her waist even further to increase her hourglass shape. Her raven hair was she worn long with a distinctive short fringe. The fringe (still referred to today as Bettie Bangs) is still a popular cut amongst vintage loving ladies. 



Katy Perry rocking some blue Bettie bangs

Making appearances in the 1950s in popular mens magazines such as Wink, Beauty Parade and Titter. She also went on to star in many ‘underground’ films before later going on to work on some more mainstream ones which are still available to buy today; Varietease (1954) and Teaserama (1955) Bettie went on to become a Playboy centrefold.

However always capable of doing the unexpected, she decided to take a different path in life and in 1959, stepped out of the lime light, in what was really the peak of her career, many rumours surround the reasons behind this, Bettie herself says she found religion, others speculate it was due to police investigations into the world she was submerged in during those ‘underground’ film years. Whatever the reasons, one thing her departure left behind was rumour, intrigue and a fascination that continues to this day. During those years out of the limelight, she suffered mental health issues and personal tragedies so she was no stranger to drama both in front of and behind the camera and was actually hospitalised after being diagnosed with schizophrenia.

In her later life she came back in to the public eye, giving interviews about her life, although at first she refused to be photographed which is reported to be due to concerns she had over her appearance. The young Bettie's iconic image is still copied by pin ups and fashion lovers in 2012 and she has gained cult status, with both women and men adoring images of her in her heyday. Bettie Page lived to be eighty five, that's a lot of years away from the camera yet she's reached a status that for many means she'll forever be the ultimate and original pin up girl. 

Bettie Page April 22, 1923 – December 11, 2008

* Bettie was not shy about nudity so if you do decide to check out more images online, then know who's looking over your shoulder! ;)



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7 comments

  1. Really interesting post - I had no idea she was the original pin-up (in that sense) model. :)

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  2. What an interesting article, I'd never given much thought to this kind of photography being behind closed doors. Amazing so many pictures of her exist really.

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  3. This is why I love your blog, one post could be fashion, the next hair and then you give us a bit of history too. Keep them all coming please :)

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  4. I have always admired her, but never really knew much about her life. Great post :)

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  5. Thanks folks, glad you all enjoyed it. It's all pretty dark really, it just goes to show that troubled celebrities are not a new phenomenon!

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  6. Bettie Page was an exquisite creature, a real torchbearer for Dita Von Teese and the like to continue on the pin-up/burlesque path. Super post! Forgive my cheekiness but more please.

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  7. @G.M Norton - Cheekiness is positively encouraged on this blog! Thanks for stopping by! ;)

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