Her influence can be spotted from several miles away: The gently curled raven locks, the crafty bangs, the attitude.
Though somewhat of an x-rated outsider during her prime, Bettie Page became a solidified fashion icon long after she’d traded in her whips - and continues to shape contemporary women’s style choices well beyond her death.
Earning the moniker “Queen of Pinups,” Bettie Page appeared on more magazine covers than Marilyn Monroe and Cindy Crawford combined during her 7-year stint as a model. In fact, in terms of style legacy, the dark-haired beauty is quite arguably more influential than Ms. Monroe. This may strike Marilyn fans and pop-culture aficionados as an overtly provocative statement, but the very nature of Bettie’s work was often just that – overt and provocative.
Appearing in slew of underground photos and film shorts featuring bondage and S&M scenes, sometimes with other women, Bettie would never receive the same widespread fanfare as “naive” sexpot Marilyn – especially given the uprise of sexual conservatism in the 1950′s.
But in spite of her raunchier work – or perhaps due to it – Bettie has since been cast as a rebel of sorts; a sexual liberator empowering women with a lack of concern for playing by the rules. This is undoubtedly a large part of Bettie’s appeal, but she never intended to spearhead a new feminism – she just wanted to be sure she looked good. And her ability to remain a “lady” while engaged in “unwholesome” simulated sex acts speaks volumes about the power of a look she created herself to hide a broad forehead.
Brimming with a girl-next-door sweetness, Bettie’s sexuality is as accessible and non-threatening as her warming smile and little-girl bangs. Drag Queens withstanding, there are very few women who can capture the smoldering sensuality of Marilyn Monroe, and even fewer who try. Bettie’s, on the other hand, has been mirrored on the head’s of those eager for their own brand of naughty-but-cute sex appeal for decades.
Beginning in the 1980′s, Bettie gained her own level of sub-mainstream prevalence when a reinvigorated interest in her image spawned the haircuts of a million goth girls. Given the uniqueness of her look (i.e., dark hair, pale skin, red lips) in a peroxide-happy era that churned out blondes like Doris Day and Lana Turner, it could also be argued that she was “goth” long before the term came to be. Unsurprisingly, her hold on the alternative scene remains firmly intact and shows little sign of slowing.
Unless, of course, Bettie’s latest resurgence renders her look too mainstream. With big-time pop stars like Beyonce and Katy Perry jumping on the Bettie Page-bang train, the hairstyle is likely experiencing its largest audience yet – more than fifty years since its debut. Allowing for the increased interest in various forms of vintage styling abound, it’s unlikely that the ultra-glamorous yet completely punk rock ‘do will disappear anytime soon – and we’re totally okay with that.
Tags: 1950's, 1980's, alternative, bettie page, Beyonce, cindy crawford, doris day, fashion, goth, hairstyle, Katy Perry, lana turner, marilyn monroe, pin up, punk rock, style, vintage