BY MONIQUE QUINTANA
Growing up, I also had a love affair with the pinup girl. I used to beg my parents to take me to the only 1950s themed dinner in town, and I twirled in circle skirts my grandmother had sewn for me in blue and green Hawaiian print fabric. I don’t really feel like me if I’m not wearing a cat eye and a red mouth. It’s become part of my feminism.
What always troubled me about the pinup aesthetic was that I never saw pinups who looked like the women of my family, and while I loved (and continue to love) looming pinup figures like Marilyn Monroe and the cult queen Bettie Paige, I’ve always been looking for something a little more relevant to my experience. There are many reasons why the pinup aesthetic appeals to women of color. It’s an aesthetic that celebrates the body and encourages transformation. It can help a woman find her own magic and be confident. It can connect her to the women that came before her, to her heritage.
I’ve been on social media for less than a year and while it can be problematic at times, it has helped me find these communities of women that I’ve been seeking for so long. Instagram has become my favorite social media platform. Here’s a very short list of accounts for and by pinups of color. There are so many, but here are a few that have made an impression on me over the past several months.
This account features several lovelies daily. You’ll see pinups that are contemporary and retro, of many different shapes, sizes and colors. It also shows the many different manifestations of the pinup look. Some pin-ups are more natural, some have tattoos and rainbow colored hair. Some are more vampy in their aesthetic, while others are more playful. There’s no rule about beautiful here.
Yvonne V hails from the town I live in, Fresno Ca, which is the very pulse of the Central Valley. With her rockabilly glamour, she celebrates all kinds of California, from the time warp of a diner, The Chicken Pot Pie Shop located in Fresno’s arts and culture center, the Tower District, to the buzzing dream place that is Anaheim’s Disneyland. And while she is a lover of camp and whimsy, she has a serious knowledge and appreciation for the history of the pin-up girl, and relays the beauty of the past like colorful bubbles of memories.
Angelique Noire adorns herself in classic looks from the 1940s and 1950s, but she encourages black women to make the aesthetic their own. She shows that you can totally style natural hair in pin-up looks such as victory rolls and bumper bangs. What’s the most beautiful thing about her? She uses her platform to lift up her community and support movements like Black Lives Matter and women's rights.
Ashley Marie Rosa, a Mexicana identified pin-up, is intensely beautiful and has a whole lot of integrity. She’s proud of her body and is open with talking about body image with her followers. She recently had a fat transfer procedure and was very honest about what she had done and her reasons for doing it. She has also made sure to emphasize the seriousness of undergoing the procedure and the long journey to recovery. Her account is a glimpse into her professional life, fun times with her love and friends, and she also posts fun hair and make-up tutorials that are a playful kaleidoscope of glamour.
Activist and poeta, Dandy Mandie shares a wonderful and politicized existence. Donning pompadours and flowers in her hair, she’s a modern day echo of the Pachuca, women of Mexican descent who refused to assimilate to the rigid social standards of the 1930s and 1940s. On other days, Mandie will rock beanies and hoodies. She shares her poetry in both grand and intimate spaces. She’s like a beautiful revolution.
Monique Quintana is a contributing Beauty and Fashion Editor of Luna Luna and blogs at razorhousemagazine.com. She holds an MFA in Creative Writing Fiction from CSU Fresno, and her work has appeared in Huizache, Bordersenses, and The Acentos Review, among others. She is a member of the Central Valley Women Writers of Color collective, the Latinx Authors Collective (LACO), a Squaw Valley Community of Writers Fellow, and this summer, she will be attending the Sundress Academy of the Arts Residency in Knoxville, TN. She is working on a hybrid Chicanx gothic collection entitled, A Little Saw And Other Children Pieces and her first novel, Chola Mona Lisa, which is about a mother who mysteriously loses the ability to smile on her thirtieth birthday and begins an affair with a gang banger- turned- artist after she agrees to pose in his large video art instillation in Fresno, CA. You can find her on Instagram as @quintanadarkling.