The purpose of our blog is to discuss topical issues, stories, and situations, as well as to share what we are up to and new ways for you to get involved. We are always searching for possible answers to the question: Why is a girl's worth culturally and historically relative?

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Women's History Month "P": Beatrix Potter and Pin-Up Girls


Beatrix Potter and her favourite dog Kep

Helen Beatrix Potter was an English author born in 1866, in South Kensington, London.  Beatrix was best known for her children books, such as The Tale of Peter Rabbit. As a child, Beatrix was home-schooled, kept isolated from other children, and discouraged from higher education, though her brother Bertram (who was six years younger) was sent to school when he was old enough.  Despite this lack of education, Beatrix carefully observed and painted nature, especially when on holidays in Scotland and the Lake District in Northwest England.  Her detailed watercolors of fungi ultimately led to her being respected in mycology (the study of fungi).

Through diaries and letters, Beatrix created stories and illustrations of animals with human characteristics in the rural countryside of England. The Tale of Peter Rabbit was first published in 1902, when she was in her 30s, and was followed by 22 other tales over the next 28 years.  When she was 47, Beatrix married solicitor William Heelis, and began to breed sheep and farm, while continuing to write.  With her passion of farming and animals, in 1930 Beatrix became the first woman president of the Herdwick Sheepbreeder's Association.


Thank goodness I was never sent to school; it would have rubbed off some of the originality.
~Beatrix Potter

Most people, after one success, are so cringingly afraid of doing less well that they rub all the edge off their subsequent work.
~Beatrix Potter

I hold that a strongly marked personality can influence descendants for generations.
~Beatrix Potter

I remember I used to half believe and wholly play with fairies when I was a child. What heaven can be more real than to retain the spirit-world of childhood, tempered and balanced by knowledge and common-sense...
~Beatrix Potter


Pin-up girls are idealized images or illustrations of women that are mass produced.  The term was coined in England in 1941, when someone could trace a page out of a magazine and pin it up on their wall, but pin-up girls can be traced to the early 19th century. With advances in mass-printing in the early 20th century, photography and models were in short supply due to the war efforts.  Artists and illustrators began to drawing idealized pin-up girls, which were particularly successful during WWII.

George Petty was a pin-up artist whose images could be found in a variety of publications. He created the "Petty Girl" for Esquire magazine. The girls were considerably unrealistic, drawn with slender body types, longer legs, and small heads. 

Though many of the women used as pin-up girls were images of notable celebrities as Betty Grable, many of the drawn pin-up girls were illustrated as the "perfect woman," an idealized version of what a women should look like.

No comments:

Post a Comment