Friday, December 29, 2006

Bettie Page and her Sex Appeal

From the web site "Bud Planet" there is a fascinating article about Bettie ...In The Life of a Pin-Up Legend, Stevens expounded on Betties appeal:

"She has an indescribable quality that separates her from all the other models of that time,” Stevens said. “You get a sense of pure joy from her, as though she just came alive for the camera and gave it her all. There's a timeless quality about her that gives her images a real currency even though they were shot some 40 years ago. It's an amazing feat, to be able to bridge time the way she does. She is embraced by both sexes, and she's become a role model for young women -- a maverick who did as she pleased without concern for the social restrictions of the time. Bettie was bold and independent when women just weren't allowed to be that. That's an admirable, risky quality that can invite trouble. Her image will still be around long after we're gone."

It's especially intriguing that on the final page of The Life of a Pin-Up Legend, the authors quote a psychologist who studies facial appearance. The comments of Professor Michael Cunningham are a fascinating explanation of the ageless appeal of Bettie Page: "I took nine measurements of Bettie Page's features using an electronic micrometer, and then standardized those measures as ratios to the size of the head, I compared Bettie's facial metrics to a database containing measurements of both other stars and of uncelebrated women,” Cunningham said. “The numbers confirmed what most pin-up viewers might intuitively perceive. The height and width of Bettie Page's eyes were much greater than average, giving her the appearance of child-like innocence and playfulness. That effect was compounded by her very large smile, and her eyebrows, which were set higher than average. The combination of child-like and expressive features made her face appear both open and non-threatening."

Had Bettie's cheekbones and chin been larger, she might have seemed intimidatingly beautiful. But those features were in the normal range, so the overall appearance is not that of an unobtainable ice princess, but rather that of a pleasant and eager-to-please girl next door. Bettie's long-term appeal may be due, in part, to the contrast between her facial appearance and that of her body and apparel. Her face gives the impression of a sweet and wholesome girl who would not turn a guy down for a date or make him feel inadequate. At the same time, her black lace and sensuous pose suggest that the date will not be limited to a chat at the malt shop and a chaste kiss at the door. The perception of sweetness and sexuality, of pleasure without threat, may capture the heart of the ambivalent 20th Century American man."

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