Hi everyone. Today I'm going to talk about a couple of topics that are incredibly near and dear to my heart. It's definitely no secret that at Sentio we love our pin up girls. My own career consists of being part Soapstress and part pin up artist and the two frequently meet in the form of our marketing and packaging. It should also come as no surprise that I am a passionate, unyielding... ready for it? We're gonna drop the F bomb...
And a really cool thing about the pin up community at large is that many of its participants and supporters are, too. There are gorgeous pin up girls of all shapes, sizes, and styles, and creativity reigns supreme. Consider the success of Tess Holliday, who, while beloved in pin up culture for a long while now, has recently spurned cries of "Hell yes!" from women around the world for shattering impressions of standard beauty in the mainstream.
Of course, misogyny and the myth of the "bad feminist" can tend to lurk anywhere, so every once in a while I face the following ethical conundrum: How is portraying women in a deliberately sexy and played-up manner not objectification?
It's a short answer to a nuanced and very loaded question: consent. The key to literally all of this and its relation to empowerment vs. degradation lies in that critically important word.
The other important word is power, and namely, who has it. A woman walking down the street who hasn't asked for your attention is a highly different scenario from a woman who has chosen to represent a certain image publicly in the name of creativity, sensuality, or fun. And even then, that second woman has asked for nothing. She is a master of her own body and appearance, as every person should be, and holds total rights to who does and doesn't have the privilege to look. This is her ownership and her art and is what makes her empowered.
Recently I had the honor of speaking on this topic with the winner of Rock Island's Ms. Retro Rally 2015. She's gorgeous, obviously, but I have no doubt that the substance of her personality and positivity toward women helped her to earn the title.
Constance (far left) and myself walking down College Hill at Retro Rally.
Special Guest Interview with Ms. Retro Rally 2015, "Constance Dah'ling"
Soap Harlot Press: When I met you at Retro Rally last month you were just beaming sunshine at everyone. It was easy to tell that your kindness was genuine and that you were honestly passionate about lifting up your fellow ladies. What would you tell any women out there who might be struggling with finding their own confidence and power?
Constance: Retro Rally was such a fun day that I really looked forward to. Being with fellow pin-ups makes me feel like I am a part of the tribe, like I belong. I spent a lot of time feeling like a misfit that just needed to find my island! Here's what I would say to any woman struggling to find confidence and power - embrace whatever it is that you love about yourself, love all over it and find people who wanna love all over it - uniqueness is true beauty. True power is owning yourself; it's not found in wishing to be someone else.
SHP: Have you found the pin up experience to be empowering overall?
Constance: I find pin-up to be very empowering!!! It's almost totally women led - from the models to photographers to car owners - women are the central leaders. I am so impressed by the many pin-up ladies that run the show, found and run charities. We are all about lifting each other up and cheering others on to success.
SHP: Sexism is everyone's problem, so we need everyone to care. In your opinion, what is the most important thing we can do as individuals to generate equality and respect in our society?
Constance: Ending sexism is all about changing the culture. To change the culture we must teach our daughters what they are worth, teach them to speak out - and we must teach our sons that in treating women equally and with great respect they are not diminished but strengthened.
SHP: Fun question: Tell us how feminism is sexy!
Constance: Feminism is sexy because equality is sexy. Nothing is sexier than being treated as a peer - everyone wants to feel valued and heard - cannot think of anything sexier than that!
Art Credit: "Uncensored" by Molly McGuire. Photo of Tess Holliday courtesy of her official website. Photos of Constance courtesy of Jenna Sue Photography.