From Marilyn Monroe to Mad Men, there's no denying the style of the 1950s and 1960s holds a certain kind of appeal for many in the modern era. Pinups in particular have connotations of a classic sex appeal that is incredibly far removed from our current jeans-and-hoodie-chic.
We had four BuzzFeed staff members head to Sherbet Birdie, a pinup photography studio in Sydney, to be transformed into pinups and see what they could learn about the style – and themselves – along the way.
Watch the video here:
I was a bit shocked when I saw myself, because my whole look was the opposite of what I usually go for – big hair, big make-up, big, chunky accessories, the midriff, and the leopard-skin pants – there was so much going on! At first I felt a bit shy that I looked so crazy and the other girls looked so beautiful and classy, but then I just embraced it and took some advice from my "queen" necklace! The fact that my final photo was one of me laughing in between shots was testament to how much fun I was having. I was just buzzing after spending a whole day with a room full of amazing, diverse women who were being so genuinely lovely and positive and sharing personal stories with each other.
I think in your late twenties you have a good sense of who you are, but it's important to challenge yourself, and ask, "Why not?" At work it's easy to think that the best way to be taken seriously is to blend in, but that doesn't mean you can't be bold, outrageous, and unapologetic when you need to be. I might not start dressing like my pinup character every day, but I'm definitely going to envisage myself as her at those times when I need to have a bit more confidence and just be a queen.
The most surprising thing for me in the reveal was the shape of my body in the outfit. I don't typically wear things that necessarily show off my ~hourglass~ shape – especially in winter. This outfit was literally showing it ALL off. Even the fact I was wearing a halter top was eye-opening, since my double-D cups don't generally enjoy wearing anything that requires a strapless bra.
I think one of the conversations we had waiting for our big reveal is what has stuck with me the most. I was explaining to the girls that as someone with boobs and a relatively small waist, I'm constantly steering away from wearing T-shirts (too tight) and singlets (too low), and anything that cinches in too much at the waist (too sexy!). I was trying to explain to them that since I was a teenager I've felt it inappropriate to wear things that show off my shape – which in hindsight is pretty dumb. I mean, how can your actual BODY be inappropriate anyway? This whole thing has definitely made me question a lot of the things I've told myself I shouldn't wear.
"Pinup" makes me automatically think of the '50s, and typically long-haired, voluptuous women, as well as army/navy/sailor-clad men. So at first I didn't think I was cut out for it. As an androgynous woman who happily hides her figure, I didn't feel comfortable thinking that suddenly I'd be putting it out there. But I decided to go for it, because I don't think that anyone should limit what they can or can't do based on their identity, body shape, or style. I just wanted to give it a try!
It was actually a lot of fun! When I saw myself I immediately thought of Cry Baby, and wanted to jump in on the film set and hang with Johnny. I felt proud of myself for trying something out of my comfort zone. I realise now that "pinup" is something that anyone can appropriate to their own style, shape, and identity, and that we are all beautiful in our own ways. I thought that I already knew this, but when I saw the transformation of my colleagues, aesthetically as well as emotionally, it reminded me how much what we put on is a performance as well as a reflection of how we feel. Everyone needs to wear whatever the hell they like, and not be judged for it. We can spend our lives worrying about what others think of us, conforming to society's ideals and constantly battling with what we should or shouldn't do, say, or wear – or we can become our own best friends and just be ourselves. I think the second is much better!
I was SO nervous going into this. When I first heard "pinup," I immediately thought of those sexy, lingerie-clad illustrations from the '50s, and while I LOVE that aesthetic, I did not necessarily want to see myself like that. But I figured the fact that I was terrified was all the more reason to do it.
When I finally saw myself, I was blown away. The outfit was amazing – the kind of thing I would actually have picked out for myself. In fact, even though I was done up as a pinup, I felt more like myself than I normally do. I've put on weight in recent years, and my wardrobe is now full of clothes that cover up my body rather display my personal style. The dress I was wearing is what I would pick if I was completely comfortable with my body – and when I was wearing it, I DID feel comfortable! It made me realise that I can still dress to accentuate my body and feel good. I don't need to fit into some perfect stereotype to just be myself.