The pinup girl became a staple of World War II soldier and sailor locker doors where photographs and posters of glamorous girls were “pinned up”. The quintessential, even original, “pinup” girl is an actress from the era who is now best remembered for her classic WWII poster, showing off her “million dollar legs”. Betty Grable’s famous, leggy, rearview pose in a swimsuit, hands on hips, looking back over her shoulder, became an instant sensation and was one of the most widely distributed pinups ever. For the GIs that carried her overseas, she was more than beauty though — she was also a bit of Americana and reminded them of what they were fighting for back home. Even now, some 60 years later, that photo is the model for tattoo artwork the world over. Of course a pinup girl tattoo isn’t necessarily Betty Grable.
In fact, the woman who achieved the title of “queen of the pinup girls” flourished in the 1950s – Bettie Page. And even Betty Boop (is there a pattern here?) has been used as a pinup girl, albeit a toned down one, and has enjoyed resurgence in tattoo popularity of late, especially among women. But no matter her details, be she mermaid or hula girl, cartoon or photo, or one of the Betties, the real hallmark of the pinup girl is that she transmits sex appeal plain and simple, skipping pretentiousness, and going directly for the obvious but guiltless flirtation that makes her so attractive.