There obviously some errors in the text — the misspelling of Bettie Page as “Betty Page” and frankly, I am completely lost in the description of this paper doll for playboys…
However, this post is not about the text or even the fact that you almost expect one of the options to be a smooth Barbie-doll-esque image to make Bettie go bottomless; it’s about the art of Lou Magila.
Jim Linderman of Vintage Sleaze doesn’t like this artist — or at least the guys’ works. But I have to vehemently disagree.
As a woman, I often find the most real thing about a man’s fantasy is the image of a pinup or media babe inserted into some sketchy scenario. Like the pornos with the world’s luckiest pizza delivery dudes, the scene isn’t as important as just getting to the babe.
Yes, a lot of attention is being brought to the fact that the women in the photos do not even look like the women who posed for them; but the only thing faker than the photoshoped objects of desire are the scenes and situations in which men place the perfected images of women. Is there anything wrong with that? No; they are fantasies after all. (Expecting them to be real is another matter entirely, and one at the very definition of “sanity”.)
So what’s wrong with cartoons, illustrations, comics that capture that luscious and ludicrous point of view? There’s something rather charming about the obviously juvenile approach to just sticking the woman into the simple bare lines. It makes me feel like the artist was aware of how simplistic fantasies are. I don’t know Magila; maybe he was self aware, maybe not. But like a lot of art, you just look at it and get impressions. My impression is that this artist was aware.
Did Magila rip-off other artists? Maybe he or the publisher paid for the rights; maybe not. Maybe, like the altered artists, digital artists, bloggers,etc. of today, artist and publisher alike just figured if they had their hands on something that meant it was in the public domain. Or perhaps they felt that there were enough changes to defend Maglia’s work as derivative. So far, the answers to those intellectual property rights are as unclear as the artist’s level of awareness of the simplicity of male fantasies.
I hope Linderman continues to suss things out.
Impossibly long legs don’t bother me — when they are part of fashion illustration. As Slip of a Girl writes, “Illustrated ads do not run the risk of starting or perpetuating body dysmorphia or forms of self-hating body loathing because we know they are illustrations — no one looks like that. But we can pretend to…”
The female depicted as feline, while cliche, isn’t a real bother either; women have relationships with cats, like it or not.
But perhaps the best thing about this vintage ad is what I learned: Kiraz made dolls. Fashion dolls based on the artist’s Les Parisiennes series, to be precise. What Kiraz himself calls the “effigies of his work made by Birgé-Jopo”.
Often called Poupee de Kiraz or Les Parisiennes dolls by Kiraz, these 15 inch tall French fashion dolls seem to have only been made for one year, in 1967. That makes these little gems difficult to find. And playing hard-to-get does so turn me on as a collector. I am now on the look-out for these vintage vinyl fashion dolls from France. The ones with the round faces, cat’s eyes, and impossibly long and slim legs. So period. So fascinating.
All images via GGSDolls.
Remember William Wants A Doll from Free to Be, You and Me?
Well, William — and millions of little boys just like him — have wanted dolls through the ages. Some were lucky enough to have had parents who weren’t freaked out and let them have dolls. Some parents even took photographs of their boys with their dolls, like these from 20s and 30s.
Images via bondman2 @ eBay.
In 1977 I was 13, and I know use of the word “negro” was a no-no. But here’s proof it was not only said by ignorant white trash folk, but used to peddle dolls, doll parts, etc. A page of from the 1977 Standard Doll Co. catalog featuring “negro dolls” — alongside “Indian dolls,” a term which is still bandied about far too often (but then Native Americans are the most overlooked people in our country — and that’s saying something).
This image alone wants to make me watch Gorilla at Large (1954); normally it’s the girl with the dollie and the boy with the cig.
Because my first Barbie dolls had been my aunt’s, I had a lot of the original stuff, including those (now highly collectible) palest blue whispers of chiffon pleated underpants. I remembered being struck by the incongruity of such angles — the square-ish lines of the boxy panties themselves and the triangular points of the pleats — against the round curves of plump plastic. As I slipped them over Babs’ firm flesh, I wondered what her shape would do to the shape of those panties… Miraculously, some of the pleating remained when Barbie wore them — and in fact, the pleating was fully retained once removed from the doll. These were things I was highly suspicious of.
I wondered if those puffs of pleats remained beneath Barbie’s outerwear… They weren’t really visible; Barbie did not suffer from visible panty lines either. But like that refrigerator light problem, there was no way to see-to-believe, no way to really know.
While many blame Barbie for a plethora of society’s ills, I’m not so convinced. I learned many things from Barbie, including, but not limited to, the pure impossibility of comparing myself to a doll (let alone coming up short in such a comparison).
Barbie was a doll, her movements were not only dictated & restricted by manufactured bendable knees & stiff elbows, but whatever limited movements Babs had could only be made at my whim. Her permanently arched foot did not relax when her shoes were removed, nor when she went to sleep. (This, I would learn years later as a department store sales person, was quite probably the most realistic thing about Barbie.) When I cut her hair, it did not grow back. Ever. When her leg popped-off at the hip, you could just press it firmly back into place; no blood, no guts, just the glory of fixing a problem yourself.
Barbie was not real and I knew it.
Her lack of areolas and nipples did not make me question the existence of mine. The enormous size of her breasts and their skewed proportionality did not make me question the size and proportion of my mother’s bustline, that of any other female that I knew, or my own breasts when I developed them. Barbie’s flat tummy did not make me question my plump belly or that of any other female; hers was hard unforgiving plastic, ours were flesh — as flexible, purposeful and forgiving as our arms. Our bodies existed for more than posing, for draping fabrics, for pretending. We are not dolls; we are a human.
Of course, as a child, I didn’t exactly articulate these things to myself or anyone else; these were simply the lessons of play. (Are those the ingrained messages they want to protect children from?)
OK, so Barbie’s hyper-beauty was unrealistic, so what? I had a brain. I was no more in danger from this fashion doll than boys who played smash-up with Hot Wheels cars were from driving like the world was a demotion derby they could just get up and walk away from. Kids can tell reality from pretend, especially when they have emotionally & intelligently available adults who answer questions and talk with them, not at them.
(This is not to say that Barbie, media images, etc. do not have an impact; but that’s more a matter of a collective accumulation of messages. And I’ll continue to pull at those threads.)
However — getting back to Barbie’s pleated underwear, what started all this in my mind was spotting these vintage knife pleated panties.
I instantly thought of the mysteries of those angles on Barbie’s curves, of how I wondered just how real flesh would react with those pleats… Puckers & folds in your pants or beneath a slip-protected skirt, would they be there under your clothes? Or would your flesh fill them out, curves rubbing-out the angles? If they were there, what would they feel like? Would they remain when you took those panties off? Puckers & folds, those are usually considered imperfections — yet here they are, for living humans, not just dolls.
These vintage panties are beautiful little mysteries to me. And until I find a pair in my size, this is how they shall remain to me.
As I’ve said, I’ve long admired Laura’s Living Dolls series, but it wasn’t until this little vignette that I felt inspired to try a photo myself. (And it was perfect timing too, because the Cheap Thrills Thursday post I had in mind ended up being more of a collector’s post than I thought!)
Upon seeing Laura’s recent photo, my first impulse was to interrupt the kids (13 year old daughter and 9 year old son) in the middle of their chores (not that they minded) and excitedly yelp at them: “Stop what you are doing — and bring me a Bratz doll and a toy shark!”
To which they responded (only slightly puzzled, because they are used to my bouts of insanity), “I don’t have a toy shark…”
How can we not have a toy shark?!
But I re-group well. “OK, how about an alligator?”
“Anything that lives in water… Has a big mouth?”
But all we’ve got is a Bratz doll — and a boy one at that. (He’s the only one that hasn’t made it into the rummage sale box; note to self: pillage that box before next weekend’s sale to see about sharks, other dolls, etc.)
But I am nothing if not flexible. So I scrap the idea of posing the girl Bratz doll, seated on the edge of a plastic dishpan, above a pool of razor-teeth-critter-infested water & reformulate a new one.
“Whatcha got with teeth, and a big open mouth…”
OK, so that still works with my fantasy — to play out my Bratz doll fears. No, not the slutty ones; the ones that involve the feet that pop off with the shoes. :shudder:
Anywho… Here we go; my first attempt at a Living Doll creation:
Original painting of a small scared looking doll. Perhaps she’s tired of keeping quiet. Colors are layered, dark and rich.
Painting is 10″x20″ encaustic medium on wood.
Encaustic is a wax based medium that must be applied while hot and in a liquid state. The paint is applied painstakingly in layers and fused with heat between each successive application to prevent cracking. The medium is thousands of years old and more durable than oil paint. The painting may be buffed with a clean cloth to give it a nice luster and keep it clean.
I’m trying to get Laura/ThatGrrl to post the series, called Living Dolls, at Creative Fat Grrl so that I can find them there. (Yup, I’m lazy like that.) Maybe if we all pester her… *wink*
Speaking of flags painted on Goldie Hawn’s body on Laugh-In…
To celebrate Barbie’s 50th anniversary, Mattel’s 2009 Barbie Doll releases feature a number of iconic retro doll re-do’s & celebrity dolls — including a very accurate version of Goldie Hawn as seen on Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In. Look at the incredibly detailed reproduction of Goldie’s bikini & body painted tattoos, as seen in 1968:
Part of the Blonde Ambition Collection (officially said to be available July 1st, the Goldie Hawn Barbie is available now at eBay, Amazon, and a few select doll retailers), Goldie joins Marilyn Monroe as a vinyl delight for collectors.
And this doesn’t offend me in the slightest.
In fact, I want one.
While Babs has often been cursed as the vinyl bringer of doom, providing body image issues to little girls everywhere, I don’t have a problem with a pop culture history reproduction. And it’s not because I’m a collector &/or that Barbie’s boobs have been reduced for the Goldie version.
First of all, the Goldie Hawn Blonde Ambition Barbie is for adults; not kids.
Kids should not be given a doll they do not understand (and that includes the societal context of the times she comes from). Kids also shouldn’t reduce a $40-50 doll to garbage; and let’s face it, Goldie’s tats, understood or not, would be abraded away with childhood play.
We adults already know of Goldie & the cultural context of the time. Our body image issues, however affected & formed, are also our own responsibilities; we are old enough to say to ourselves and the world, “I’m a woman, I look like this, and I’m happy with it.” Or not, as the individual case may be. (And then we should seek help for our own issues, no matter how they were formed; finger pointing alone won’t help us love our bodies or keep them healthy.)
Second of all, as a feminist, I have a long and deep relationship with Barbie.
I played with Barbie as a young girl. And, while my sister thinks it’s so hysterical that she tries to embarrass me with this fact, I have no problems admitting it: I played with Barbies until I was 16. I loved to take pretty vintage handkerchiefs & other bits of fabric and pin them on my dolls, then pose them in little vignettes with the Barbie accessories, in the garden, etc. I was exploring visually, creatively with the tools I had at the time. I couldn’t sew; so I pinned on the fabric. I didn’t have a real camera (and the means to pay for all that film & developing); so I created scenes & literally used my hands to frame the images I’d capture in my mind’s eye — reconstructing, reposing, redressing, until I saw what I wanted.
I could be odd — and this may not be the “most normal” Barbie play; but then, when I see other kids playing with fashion dolls, I see quite a bit of that too… I don’t think my “oddness” stems from how I played — or how long I played — with fashion dolls.
Of course, as I got older I became suspicious of Bab’s and her figure. This was further complicated by media images, feminist discussion, and the fact that I looked far more like Barbie than most of my friends & family did…
I noticed that in books, films, television shows, etc., that the voluptuous women were most often the “evil” ones. We big-busted women were depicted as “man traps” and were not to be liked or trusted by other women either. Our assets were too compelling. We were competition. Our looks garnered looks — and the whole thing was diabolically unnatural (even when it was all so completely natural). It was bad, we were sinful; therefore we were The Enemy.
It was saddening, maddening.
But it wasn’t Barbie’s fault. It wasn’t even Mattel’s fault.
As a society we were sold on beauty & sex appeal, no matter how realistic or not the standards are; but if you dare to have it (and this was something deemed & defined by others, it was not even necessary for it to be exhibited or used by yourself), you were viewed suspiciously… Punished, ostracized.
But it wasn’t something a plastic doll did. And the only reason Mattel and others could sell it was because our culture greedily consumed it. And then made weird judgments about it. WTF.
While some blame Barbie for unrealistic body image, others condemn the doll, her world and her friends for an insipid, unrealistic, & exaggerated sense of romance; I find she exposes even more about our twisted cultural values & expectations. Barbie is a useful tool.
This relationship with Barbie is one I’m still trying to figure out… And the commercial processing of more dolls, how the marketplace reacts to them, and the resulting opines of others could all just get me closer to some better understanding.
Besides, if I don’t like Barbie, I don’t have to buy her — for myself or anyone else. What’s more, I can let her coexist in this world without buying her ideals either.
Maybe I call her “My Therapy Doll” because I’ve got special needs kids & so I spend a lot of time dealing with therapists; because she’s really a four-sided doll displaying emotions. The printed fabric doll is weighted at the bottom to stand, has straw hair, & felt embellishments to show four emotions, which are named via printing at the bottom so you don’t get confused (which is not an emotion displayed on the retro doll).
Images may not be used without crediting me & linking to this blog.
I am happy today
I am sad today
I am bored today
I am furious today
In which I show you things I got so cheap, it’s embarrassing — for someone other than me. I love my bargains.
This vintage boudoir doll is made from huge (baby diaper sized) safety pins, beads, some wire, and a small vinyl doll head (which reminds me of Dawn Dolls).
No, I won’t take her apart to show you how she’s made — I lurve her. Plus, she was a quarter — and supplies will cost more than that. But if you want the all-expense-paid fun of making one, here are what appear to be the instructions. (Really crafty folk probably guessed all of this anyway.)
I spotted this retro doll, a promotional piece for Libby’s foods, at an antique store.
It reminded me of the following:
1) I am getting really old because more and more stuff from my time is now entering the “collectible” category and being sold in antique stores (if not, yet, actually as antiques).
2) I have a friend whose nickname is Libby; it’s a shortened form of her online user ID “Libertine”. I am forever singing, “When it’s got Libby’s Libby’s Libby’s on the label label label, you will like it like it like it on your table table table,” to her. It’s especially a hoot if you wiggle your eyebrows during the “you will like it like it like it on your table table table” part of the lyric.
3) When you reference “online user ID” in conjunction with “retro 70’s” stuff, your brain hurts a little.
4) No matter what you put in your brain, if there’s a jingle in there, it will over power it all and come out victorious. My brain is a poor cocoon — the Libby’s jingle goes in like larva, but it never enters the pupa stage and morphs into a beautiful butterfly, leaving me with an earworm.
5) Funny thing about recalling jingles, no matter how many times the earworm loops, no matter how many times you find yourself singing it aloud, you suddenly wonder if the version you are singing is the accurate version…
I searched the Internet for a video of the old Libby’s commercial; but none had that jingle.
I wouldn’t call all this a waste of time, an hour later I have these two gems to share with you:
First, a 1960’s commercial in which Libby’s makes up a “Sloppy Joe” dance craze to peddle product:
I’m too young to remember that one; but I’m betting if there were any of those t-shirts etc. still around in an antique store I’d want one. Bad.
I vaguely recall this Libby’s canned vegetables ad with Tony Randal:
I don’t recall these 70’s ads for Libbyland dinners…
But then, we weren’t allowed to have TV dinners, so maybe I had no dietary connection to leave a lasting promotional imprint… Those folding tray/boxes are completely fascinating!