When Brooke Clark spent a day getting primped and preened for a retro-style Valentine’s Day photo shoot that channelled her heroine Marilyn Monroe, she wasn’t doing it for a man.
The $650 Valentine’s Day package was a gift to herself.
”I love myself. Why should Valentine’s Day be only for people in a relationship?” says Ms Clark, a 23-year-old drama teacher from Moorebank.
Jodi G, who was shot surrounded by a huge red heart wearing vintage lingerie, is a lover of all things retro, right down to vintage cars.
“All my life I’ve been into the 1940s, ’50s and ’60s,” says Ms G, a 41-year-old from Sandy Point in Sydney’s south.
She plans to give her glam photos to her boyfriend of 20 years on Valentine’s Day, hoping they will take the relationship ”up a notch”.
While sexy pin-up photographs of women like Betty Grable were originally created by men for men, the tables have been turned in what could be the ”pin-up girls’ ultimate revenge”, says the American art historian Maria Elena Buszek. She says a new generation of artists are remaking the pin-up by celebrating their bodies and taking control by posing for mostly female photographers.
”Why should the frat boys be the only one to appreciate a curvy figure?” writes Ms Buszek in Pin-Up Grrrls: Feminism, Sexuality, Popular Culture.
Most women do the photo shoots for their own pleasure, says Sasha Dobies, whose retro photography studio, Sherbet Birdie at St Peters, worked its Valentine’s Day magic on this reporter and Ms G. They produce beautiful photos that look cheeky and sexy, yet suitable for hanging on the wall where anyone, from a mother-in-law to the neighbour’s children, can see them.
”Women are taking power over their bodies, over their sexuality and their appearance … and using it in a way that isn’t about men,” Ms Dobies says. ”It’s a non-threatening, non-sexual way to do something where you get to reveal parts of your body … and where you get to luxuriate in an hour-glass figure.”
The curvy retro style is attractive to today’s Australian women, says Bek Morris of the retro photography studio Bexterity in Campbelltown.
” I get a lot of curvier women saying they’re so glad they can find clothes that suit them,” Ms Morris says.
”No one caters these days to women who have actual body shapes, with boobs and bums. Most clothes are made for size six supermodels.”
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