The History of Boudoir: 1920’s – 1940’s

“The practice of putting women on pedestals began to die out when it was discovered that they could give orders better from there.”

– Betty Grable

Betty Grable pin-up photoFor the younger generation, the 20’s were a time of sexual liberation and outcry against the traditionalist views of their parents. During the prohibition from 1920-1933, the sale and distribution of alcohol wasn’t the only banned activity. Nude or risque photographs were considered illegal as well. Even though it was illegal, Albert Arthur Allen, a French artist, paved the way for nude photography by having women pose naked against ornate backgrounds, capturing their beauty au naturel. This is the foundation of modern boudoir photography.

After the dissolution of the prohibition in 1933 and the beginning of WWII; the US Government began using propaganda to encourage young men to fight for their country. With the knowledge that “sex sells”, the military began using pin-up girls. On their recruiting posters with slogans like “She’s worth fighting for” or “Come home to your girl a hero”. This made the pin-up girl one of the most recognizable forms of boudoir and paved the way for modern boudoir by normalizing the female form in advertising.
history of modern boudoir: WW2 pin up poster

Known for her “million dollar legs”, Betty Grable was the icon of pin-up girls in the 30’s and 40’s. One of her most famous portraits was distributed to over five million troops during WWII. Not only was she known as one of the first women to take out insurance on a body part. She was also known for being one of the highest paid female actors in Hollywood during her time.

Following in the footsteps of glamorous pin-up girls, like Betty Grable, many young women of the era would send similar photographs to their men overseas. We have many military clients who still do this today!

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XOXO – Kori