Pin-up shoots attracting the everyday woman

April 7, 2018 GMT

Classic cars, busty fashion, red lips and high heels. And poses that would make Rita Hayworth and Jayne Mansfield blush.

The pin-up girl is back. And she just might be your child’s teacher, your next door neighbor or the co-worker sitting across the room from you.

One woman who knows this well is Rebecca Pierce, of Bradley, who’s liberating women from behind the lens through BeccaBoo Retro Designs, which specializes in pin-up and boudoir photography.

As the retro and rockabilly genres experience a revival among young women, modern-day pin-ups are helping strip down some of the last remaining stigmas associated with women in the 21st century: embracing their sexuality, celebrating the strong female identity and feeling beautiful, no matter what their size.

It’s a throwback to a very glamorous time for women, when Jane Russell, Betty Grable and those Varga Girls with their bombshell figures helped boost morale of GIs serving in World War II. Seventy-five years later, Katy Perry hit the stage with her Bettie Page bangs and uninhibited style, titillating both men and women. Overnight, along with popular burlesque performers such as Dita Von Teese, the pin-up movement was campy and hip.

Which is where Pierce comes in. She earned her associate’s degree in business from Penn Foster College in Arizona and aside from a digital photography certificate, she’s mostly self-taught.

She got hooked on pin-up photography when she posed herself in Chicago about eight years ago.

“The way it made me feel, it was liberating,” she said. “Being a plus-sized girl, you felt exposed and raw but you felt beautiful at the same time.”

She decided to focus much of her energy on pin-up and racy boudoir and has been booking sessions ever since.

Playing the seductive, innocent role of a pin-up girl might seem like the antithesis of feminism, particularly in a country where women represent 47 percent of the total U.S. workforce — a majority of whom work in management and professional positions.

But Pierce said it’s quite the opposite. Many of her clients want the experience, even though they feel a bit vulnerable, particularly in a boudoir session or slinking into a risque pose on a bed, a sofa or inside a classic car. That’s because women are painstakingly hard on their bodies. But once they start to feel comfortable in their skin, they start feeling empowered, as if it’s OK to be a little naughty as they embrace their curves and innermost beauty. And when they finally see the pictures, Pierce said, they stop body shaming and see themselves as others do.

Many women book a session for a wedding gift to their husband; others simply do it for themselves. “They want to feel pampered. They want to feel beautiful,” Pierce said.

Piece carries her wardrobe to sessions across the state. It includes about 50 dresses size small to 4x, everything from swingy polka-dot dresses with a flirty bit of tulle peeking out, to itty-bitty shorts with crop tops, and shift dresses with plunging necklines. There are plenty of pearls and lace, and sky-scraping heels, of course. Each session includes professional hair — think victory rolls — and makeup by Amanda Bosman, of Status Salon; and depending on the package price, there could be a change of dress.

Pierce said she doesn’t Photoshop much. She might smooth out a particular area that bothers a client and airbrush their skin, but what they see is pure and unadulterated.

And those shiny vintage cars she often uses in her shoots? Oh, men love shining up their restored Chevys and letting a pretty woman ease up against it.

“They’re happy to do it,” Pierce said.