The Iconographic Bettie Page
These days we celebrate the models of our time that strut their stuff in Victorias Secrets lingerie or the itsiest- bitsiest of bikinis adorning the cover of every magazine from Sports Illustrated, to most fitness magazines.
Sure, from talk shows, reality shows, and every kind of entertainment press coverage possible.
But let’s take a moment to honor the memory of a photographic model, who shunned the public mores of her time and become one of the most “pinned-up” models in her field. And became a cultural icon for decades after: Bettie Page
[photopress:bettie_page.jpg,full,alignright] As camera clubs of the 50’s had a strange penchant for hiring models, to show up at club meetings as the mostly male club members would snap away, making personal cheesecake. Bettie Page began her career as a model for these gatherings.
The 1950s secretary-turned-model whose controversial photographs in skimpy attire or none at all helped set the stage for the 1960s sexual revolution, died last year. She was 85.
“She captured the imagination of a generation of men and women with her free spirit and unabashed sensuality,” Mark Roesler, trustee of the Bettie Mae Page Trust said. “She is the embodiment of beauty.”
Page attracted national attention with magazine photographs of her sensuous figure in bikinis and see-through lingerie that were quickly tacked up on walls in military barracks, garages and elsewhere, where they remained for years.
“I think that she was a remarkable lady, an iconic figure in pop culture who influenced sexuality, taste in fashion, someone who had a tremendous impact on our society,” Playboy founder Hugh Hefner told The Associated Press . “She was a very dear person.”
Her photos included a centerfold in the January 1955 issue of then-fledgling Playboy magazine.
A biopic was released in 2005 called ” The Notorious Bettie Page “, dramatizing the story of this woman who posed for over 20,000 photos both cheesecake-y and delving into the world of bondage.
After gaining her initial fame in the 50’s, she disappeared in 58′, only to be rediscovered by a kitsch crowd in the nineties, when her photographs came into the marketplace again in many formats.
Why raise a glass to this woman?
It’s not an endorsement of cheesecake. Nor a celebration of bondage.
Perhaps it’s a balance to the celebrity models of today.
As she was a reflection of the sexual underground of the 50’s, her persona gave an identity stamp to the pulp images of the day.
Not just becoming a faceless model for the unsophisticated amateur photographers.
When she left the world of modeling, it was to give her life to Jesus Christ.
That extreme balance of her own life, was part of what made her life worthy of a feature film.
She was a photographic modeling star. And remains so.