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Sunday 4 August 2013

Don't pin me down pinups

I'm hard to pin down when it comes to pinups - should I be myself or should I sexify myself with super sick phatness? Should I succumb to lax sexuational ethics

How about this? Pinup 1

If I told you that the me in this photo (brown wig, June 5/13) had written the best-seller 50 Ways to Make Men your Panting Slaves, would you see the image in a new light? If I were a trailblazing superhero-type politician (please don't call me an oxymoron) or a NASCAR winner, then what? How about if I were a Nobel Prize-winning astrophysicist who discovered dark energy around Uranus? Or what if you knew I was wearing red tassel pasties and a purple glitter thong under that demure white blouse and wraparound denim skirt? My facial expression would take on a whole new meaning, so would my mental state. And then you'd naturally ask, What (or who) is she doing with her right hand? Or simply, am I the famous editor of a French fashion magazine wearing a Chanel blouse and an Alexander McQueen maxi denim skirt with a diamond skull motif below the knee? As for men, we cannot dismiss the hotness factor of the plain straight-laced good-girl look. Um. Yeah...

Contextualization, what I call sexuational ethics, is paramount. If you're famous you can do pretty much whatever you want pinup-wise to accolades; if you're not, you better be ready to take off your clothes. But how far do you go beyond your comfort zone to be pinup sexy, if at all? (*Of course all my blogger friends qualify as famous.)

This was probably the most difficult of the portraits I've done so far in my art projects. In a parallel universe, or even in this one in another city or town, this could easily have been me(!). But I do like to think that I would have released my creative energies as maybe a pastry chef specializing in suggestive and outrageous desserts, a champion of the PTA, or a choirmaster with a penchant for quirky hymns. But I'm not those people. 

What this exercise underscored is the world of adventure under the clothes, which may not be apparent from one's body wrapping. Myself, I just happen to wear my adventures in a more surface way as well. Does that make me shallow?

Which leads me to Pinup 2

The sell-out audience listening my heavy-metal air ukulele solo were riveted to their seats, even after an hour. That reminds me, I shall have to tell the security guards at the exits to stop twirling their batons so vigorously. Don't they know that causes repetitive stress syndrome? Ooo, and I need to buy more rivets...
I am simply spewing sick phatness here wearing the requisite pinup underwear and bathing suit, albeit with my underwear on top of my front-zip, thigh-length bathing suit. This photo, taken by Sandra (Lens is More) on May 11, 2013, didn't make the VOGOFF cut, only because Miz Bagg, the editor, is such a screaming biatch. 

And then I come to THIS pinup. Pinup 3

If the first pinup was too cold and the middle one was too hot(?), this one is juust right. That's what I wore on Wednesday on my inspiration walk: my home-made T with low-rise jeans and my gym shoes. I am feeling very normal-self, minus specific sexification, but strong pinup-wise.

This post was inspired by the pinup/sexy conversation sparked by Bella at The Citizen Rosebud, which was then swept up by Jane George at Flight Platform Living and Desiree and Curtise and Tamera, and more I'm sure. In a world where people, an alarming number in fact, will have sex with anything with legs - probably insects too if it were possible - there's lots of room for interpretation about the concept of sexy. 

Which brings me back to sexuational ethics. I find that sex-o-vision is always more acute if there is a RELATIONSHIP or context to power it. A Steve Buscemi-lookalike as a neighbour? Probably not sexy, unless he were exceptionally funny and smart. Steve Buscemi on the big screen? Yup, sexy. If a chorus line of  male strippers gyrated their way into my living room while I'm dusting, I'd hand them all sponges and tell them to get started on the kitchen.* And men with model good looks? Meh. Why is it so easy to judge the sexiness of men but so many of us knock ourselves out when it comes to sexiness in ourselves - especially with our clothes on and especially with our clothes off.

If popular culture celebrated scientists and brains as sexy, you can bet Pinup 1 would be a contender, well, if I had someone else's brain. But it's Hollywood that seems to call the shots on sexy standards. I've never liked the Dove campaign for real beauty ads* because now we not only have professional models running around, laughing, in underwear, but our female friends and family members too. This is supposed to be a form of emancipation? And then there was that show How to Look Good Naked (a guilty pleasure). Please don't make me disrobe in the local shopping mall to prove that I'm attractive or love myself. Although I wouldn't mind a hearty wardrobe malfunction on the red carpet if I were famous and secretly got paid heaps of money for it. (Question to self: Would I disrobe for a centrefold for a million dollars? Just try me! Heh.)

Ah, life is funny. I guess we might as well dress up or strip down and enjoy it when possible, or not, and content ourselves knowing we're sexy on the inside - or not. Sexy - hate that word! Must. Stop. Now. Too many issues and just a weeny blog post. Plus, nobody pays me to be coherent. Ooo, which reminds me, I hope you've all seen Sarah, Misfits Vintage, in the June VOGOFF as Dr Hettie Hackenbush - now THAT's sexy, underwear under a winter coat with a sexy brain too.

Would you pose for a centrefold for a million dollars? What if it were for a women's magazine?

Oh, I'm linking up to Patti's VISIBLE MONDAY at Not Dead Yet Style. Drag your oozing sexiness and femme fatalism (actually, fatale-ism) over to Patti's garden of forbidden fruits (which means covered in whipped cream and chocolate, maybe swimming in liqueurs too). See you there.

*That scenario would NEVER happen as I don't dust.
*Lauded soap campaign in North America which features women of all shapes and ages running around, laughing, in white underwear. How unrealistic. Who wears white underwear any more?! (That soap burns my face like acid, by the way.)


  1. Where do I start? This requires more than a 2 line response. I need to marinate in it for a while : )

    In the meantime I have a 5km run I'm doing tomorrow...can I borrow your gym shoes?


  2. Very interesting. You raise topics I wonder about. Not living as female, I'm not qualified to comment on these issues but am eager to read and learn more about them.

  3. Feck, you are AWESOME!!! I love this.
    I find explaining what I think is sexy rather certainly doesn't correlate to anything society accepts as typically sexy!!! Sadly, I am not eloquent enough to engage in discourse on the subject, but I do LOVE this post!

  4. Wonderful post. I love the line (my paraphrase) "I'm not getting paid to be coherent"...that's so ME... and I'm absolutely going to steal and use it in my everyday life. haha :D

  5. Hello, Kitteh! I think Suzanne is right about marinating before responding to this post, but I feel spontaneous! First of all, the third picture is way best because it's you AND you're smiling, and that shirt is too damn cool. Fake posing and being someone else are never sexy, although I think that fact is lost on a generation that has grown up with 1,854 television channels, the internet and rampant consumerism. But here's another thing about that picture - would you look as sexy if you really did have flat, grubby gym shoes on?

    There are more thoughts floating around in my head, like dark matter around, yeah, yeah, yeah. But this is such a deep and yet nebulous discussion, it's too hard to do it by typing.

  6. Wait, here's another thing - why is it that women are so interested in other women being sexy? Yes, we appreciate each other's expression of womanhood, but are we still just objectifying if we encourage each other to look sexy and be pin-ups? Or maybe that's what your point is, and I just got it.

  7. Crumbs. I smile so much when I read your posts that it hurts. You are a guru!

  8. We all regard different things as a turn-on which stops us all fighting over the same people.
    I don't get that pin-up thing or burlesque for that matter but if someone offered me enough cash for a couple of return flights to India then I wouldn't have any hesitation.
    I love the third picture of you the most 'cos you're not self-aware and look like you're having fun but sexy? That's Brad Pitt in Fight Club. xxx

  9. Dear Lady, hurrah for your fabulousness!, love to read your post!, and yes, life is funny, and too short to stay thinking about all that f*ck*n' compulsory sexiness!, let's have some fun dressing up or stripping down!
    you rock and love so much your Kitteh t-shirt!, gorgeous!

  10. If I had gym shoes like that I probably would go the gym - I love this post,how media/people has labels attached to how people look, frumpy? middle-aged? sexy? I have met some extraordinary beauties, and yet once I have gotten to know them their insides splatter their outsides and they don't seem very nice at all x

  11. wow, this was an amazing post... really got me thinking

  12. I don't know what sexy is, and I think I am at the point of not caring too much! But I like the thought of the male strippers cleaning your kitchen. Best use for them I say, cos they sure ain't sexy!
    Of course it is all about context, it's a complex mix of the subjective, the personal, blended with cultural messages about gender and sex. We all muddle our own way through that particular minefield, and as long as I think I'm sexy (sometimes, not all the time, that would be mad) and my Significant Other thinks I am, what else matters? Don't we all know the most average, ordinary looking people who it turns out have the wildest sex lives? You can't tell by looking! The sexy-looking folk? They might just be celibate, or rubbish in bed - who knows?
    Your photos make me smile, love your latest self-drawn t-shirt, what IS PinUp no. 1 doing with her other hand, you are a rock star, and please keep writing interesting, funny, thought-provoking posts, Melanie. xxxxxx

  13. ah my face hurts from laughing, you! but srsly I find male strippers soooo unsexy and I could use a few hands around the house, so that was brilliant. Sexy is in the head, yeah? Love your looks, all three of them, as the sides of a genious woman - thanks for sharing them with Visible Monday. xoxo

  14. What an awesome post and so so timely!!

    I could care less what the dudes ar wearing or not as long as they are vacuuming, dusting, polishing and mopping!!

    I love all three of your looks (air ukelel-LOLOLOLOL) but the last one is my favorite--cuz it's just so MELANIE!!

  15. Been thinking about this "sexy" thing in general; Bella wrote a post on it too. Sexy in your 50's for me? Haven't come to terms with it yet; sort of gives me a brain cramp. Love your sense of humor! xoxo

  16. oh Melanie, soooo much in this post to ruminate on!! I'm not sure I know what "Sexy" means to me anymore, and I'm kind of tired of hearing the word - it's thrown about quite liberally on tv, films and magazines. I know when I feel sexy, and that's when I am feeling confident, strong and in charge of my life. It is all about context. I don't find male models sexy, although some of them are quite aesthetically pleasing, but that's not the same as sexy.

    I love the third photo of you, just being your awesome self and would love to that shot as a pinup poster on my wall. You look happy and relaxed, which I think are elements of "sexy". I also love the ukelele rock star photo but that's just because it's such a genius Melanie idea.

    I have been working on a post about pinups and this very topic which will get posted soon, so it seems that we're all on the same brain wave these days. I was inspired by seeing the Canadian film "Burlesque Assassins" which I think you would love!!

  17. Oh! you were inspired there!
    The french girl of Montreal needs to read it more than once -
    But you know what? did you actually walk in those gym shoes? i tried a pair and i was glued to the floor, i couldn't walk, i was so high and high- terrified i was!

    I like you in the 3rd pic, ya! that is you!

    God! too bad you don't sell your Tess, dying to get one...maybe?
    Please i'm begging now...



  18. I think growing up as a girl with daddy issues, yes I said it, feeling abandoned because I was, I used my body and clothes to be sexy and get attention from guys. I did this for far too much of my life. I was losing as a woman because I wasn't dressing for me but for him. Finally at 42 I'm dressing for me and some days that means sexy and others that means crazy and even a few boring comfy ones. My beauty shines from within:)

    I love the last photo so much maybe because in my mind this is what our president should look like, I mean you could take over the world in those shoes!

  19. where's my $1,000,000? I'll pose right now.

    Sexy is such a meaningless word. Add it to "strong", "independent", "grounded" "successful" and all that other crap we're supposed to be. We need to stop beating our selves up because we're not able to live up to some made up standard of anything. Do I consider myself any of the above? All of the above, as a matter of fact. Do I give a rats ass if some stranger somewhere think I'm an ugly, fat loser? No, I don't.

    Geez, that was a bit of a rant! LOL!!!!!

  20. Ooooooh Melanie bloody fabulous!! Full of knowledge I just had to read again ;) hats off to you lady as I always say (haha) a lot! Xxx

  21. i really love all your looks! you are inspiringgg! <3

    Letters To Juliet

  22. More genius from Mel Bag. That first photo reminds me of the saying, "Beware of Dog who Does Not Bark." And that soap burns my face, too. AUGH!

  23. Ah those days when I did sexy.... standard stuff (black short pencil skirt, fishnet stockings, high black heels... sorry... no imagination, no fantasy, but the man loved it. Obviously.)
    But now I am in more peaceful waters. Still flirting from time to time. I used to be a big tease. And I can still make men blush, just by saying the same things they do. But I find that confidence is the sexiest of things. A confident woman is liked by many. An insecure woman will have problems getting acros.

  24. It is ironic that so much of what is portayed as sexy is, in the eyes of the beholders not. It's like someone ina boardroom made the rules but didn't relly consult with anyone. Or is it just we gettire of what is considered sexy being shoved dow ureye sockets so that we'll buy volkswagons and pop tarts. What is sexiest about you, besides your inate and unavoidable je-ne-sais-quoi is that you are as funny as slapstick (that's very funny in my books). Thanks for this post. It is awesomeness. And I am so relieved to hear I am not the only one that doesn't dust.

  25. LMAO! All hail the uke diva - but you look da bomb as the middle aged kitteh!
    I really like the word "sexy" and I'll define it any way I damn well please, inwardly and/or outwardly ;-)

    Thanks for stopping by my place!


  26. Yes, I would pose nude for a million dollars, in any magazine! It's just skin, just a body, get over the whole naked thing! We all have them.

    I love those three "states of Melanie" - you are so amazing.

  27. I think about such things a lot too, especially since here in the PNW you can hardly swing a stick without hitting someone who is a burlesque dancer or in a "vaudeville circus burlesque" troop, where micro crinolines, fishnets and bustiers rule. Is it sexy? Empowering? Degrading? Fascinating? Annoying? All of these things? Should any of us care?

    As for sex and insects, have you seen Isabella Rosselini's series on such things? A must see!

  28. I can't get over "heavy-metal air ukulele solo."

  29. oh that's very hard to say. but I'd definitely wanted to hear the heavy-metal ukulele solo!
    to tell the truth the last shot is the best for me but that's because that's what I love for my outfits and what you love for yours combined.
    P.S. where are you charming berets in that post? just kidding

  30. You are the master of transformations. Such fun and I love the experimentation! The first photo reminds me of so many good hearted women I grew up with that gave every part of themselves to everyone.

    Being sexy is fun, but not for all times. In fact it feel silly in many circumstances. I think it's best to dress how you feel for the moment.

    blue hue wonderland

  31. I would totally pose nude. I don't think people should be ashamed of being unclothed. And I'm not overly modest.

    Love your rock star photo. And your big smile in your kitteh t-shirt.

  32. OKAY. I have a HUGE bone to pick with you over pinup number 2. You CANNOT be an air ukulele-ist if you are actually holding a real ukulele.
    Sorry, but you have to MIME it.
    Forgive my outburst. I'm a purist about this.

    You shame Cindy Sherman here. Seriously good. Hello, Kitteh.

    So many ways to be sexy. But it all starts in the head, I think. No matter how it manifests, my old-school feminism makes me cringe at women feeling the need to objectify themselves to function happily in their sexuality. But, then the evolved feminist knows that women should feel free to express however they wish.

    But the best way, still, is to make art of it!

  33. When I was in grad school, people were SO HOT, and then I'd look at pictures of them and be like "Um. I remember these people being really hot, but they look pretty normal here..." and my friend said "It was their BRAINS. They had really hot brains, and that can't be captured in a picture." And I think that's true. Sexiness is complicated. Love this post!

  34. You are a chameleon my friend. I was happy that middle aged kitteh felt just right for you. You look so genuine in the last photo! Love it.

  35. It will take my brain a few days, maybe even weeks, to process what I have read. I love you.

  36. What can I add after integrating your post and the brilliant comments above? The three faces of Melanie will be with me today as I marinate on the concepts that you brought forth, dazzling my brain.

  37. A brilliant and thought provoking discussion of sexupfication, brought fantastically to life with your pin ups! That last photo of you, the 'just right' number 3 has got it ALL and a wonderful smile, my fave photo of you of all time!

  38. Sexiness as we mature is, for me, a very subtle a beautiful boat neck, a motorcycle jacket that curves in at all the right places, or statement shoes. Even more so, it's an attitude...which you ooze so blatantly! God Bless you!

  39. Oh man, good thing we are famous as hell. All 3 pics strum the ukulele hard, each playful affectation, fantabulous ensemble, and genuine grin, including under-sung #1. For taking on the task of articulating the pertinent abstract universal-yet-personal questions in the context of these culturally troubling times - Brava!

  40. I love these photos for different reasons. I find the first one the most arresting and confronting. Sad that famous men can get away with less conventional sexiness than famous women, talents like Steve Buscemi are allowed to shine through where women would be kept back. Here on our blogs we can do what we can, be as sexy or unsexy as we like. You are fabulous and I always enjoy your various parallel selves xxx

  41. In the end, it's not really about ethics or appealing to a man or an audience is it? It's about wearing what you want and being what you want (both of which, I must say, you seem to do very well) It's about being sexy (it's such an awkward word, I see that now because I've never really used it much) if you feel like being sexy. I like your pin up three... you look so happy and just an overall great outfit.

  42. hurrah one amazing awesome and fantabulous post! being comfy in your own skin and feeling freedom to express yourself not some other person's version of you is my sexy! ooo and the men cleaning my kitchen...oooo and my husband walking in just shorts across a corn field outside paris last but if that man isn't sexy hot hot hot i tell ya!! anyway i digress....bloody brilliant....erm just what were you doing with your right hand? x

  43. I second Helga's comments, because a) she is awesome, b) I am drunk and c) she is awesome and frequently drunk.

    You are sexy. But that brown wig makes me want to cry. And the sparkle ankle boots make me want to have sex with you. So I guess we are both pretty sexy right now. Yay us!

    Sarah xxx


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