I love Pinup culture, and pinup style.  On the daily you can find me me with thick black winged eyeliner, red lips, and extremely teased hair.  I dress in a collection of vintage dresses, and PUG dresses of course,  most of the time.  So when an event comes up that allows me to go all out, and show off my pinup style 100% and have it be appreciated, I jump at it.   Some events that have been popping up are "pinup contests."    I have only participated in 2, as I am not sure how I feel about them,  some are truly legit, and some seem to be just a reason for some creepy man, to make inappropriate comments and man handle the girls participating.

Yesterday, I found myself in the latter of the two types of contests.  I did my research, and it had legit sponsors, and really good prizes so I thought it would be a good one. I was wrong.   The host was some guy who hosts some car show on some random cable network, who really thought he was somebody, even though I had never heard his name or seen his face before in my life.   Girls were called up the stage stairs by what they were wearing, "tight red shirt, get up here", he would say,  then he would immediately grab us around the waist and make some sort of inappropriate, comment.  He told one girl who was a nurse, that he would like to get a "sponge bath from her later.'    There were no judges with judging criteria for the contest, no one made note of the quality and effort the girls put in to their fashion choices, or how intricate their hair-do was, or how flawless their makeup was.   Girls were not interviewed more than just saying their name and where they were from, and at which point the Cable TV Star would make fun of their hometown.   The more I replay the experience in my mind, the more disappointed I become.   I know the people who organized the event had not intended it to go this way, it was meant to be a fun, uplifting experience... the hosting just went terribly wrong. 

My first experience was much better. That contest had a panel of female judges, interviews, a set list of judging criteria, and most of all a host who respected the women who put themselves out there and got up on stage.  I would like to participate in another contest like this one, but I am afraid that many are like the one I experienced yesterday.  The truth is I really enjoy getting up on a stage and having an opportunity to talk about why I love pin-up style, and to tell the story of how I found the vintage dress I chose to wear,  or the amazing American, women-ran and owned company that made my outfit.   Some contests can be empowering for women and pinup culture, and some are just sadly an objectifying spectacle that demeans women. 

In the future, before signing up for another one of these contests I am going to ask these questions, you might want to do the same before participating in one yourself.  #1-Who is the host?  Is it someone who knows and respects pinup style and pinup culture?   #2 How is the contest judged?  Is there a panel of judges with certain criteria they are looking for, are the judges male or female ?    #3 What is the content of the show?  Will the girls be interviewed or get to show off a talent?     I think by researching and finding the answer to these things, it will be easier to discern if participating in a particular pinup contest is a good or bad idea.


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Comment by Aoife 24K on June 15, 2014 at 12:06pm

This is an interesting post. Personally, I am not one for pageants/contests. Anyway, I am way too old for this type of thing. But I do think that for those who are interested in this type of thing, it might be a great ongoing topic idea for people to post any relevant comments about pinup related contests. And personally, the positive comments that I get from my peers here is all the public support that I need.

Comment by Devyn Beth on June 16, 2014 at 9:53am

@aoife 24k --  I think these pageants/contests can be super fun.. A proper one can  provide a forum for girls to meet other girls who are interested in similar things, have fun together,  and share their love of pinup/vintage style with their community.   Its nothing I  "need" to do either, but it is a good way to get my name out there for my business (etsy store, pinup MUAH, etc) and to network, so that is why I have done it... plus I am a performer at heart so being on stage is always fun for me.   People need to know there are really good pageants/contests to participate in out there and some that are not so good. :)

Comment by Nikki on June 16, 2014 at 9:05pm

I really appreciate this blog post. I've never really considered entering a contest, but that's primarily because there aren't any where I live. This is good to know info that I appreciate having read- just in case a contest does come up in the future. :) Thanks!!

Comment by Kitten Monroe on June 28, 2014 at 8:38pm

Pageants are a great way for aspiring artists to get seen. I am about to compete in my first (and maybe only) and I agree with needing to be sure it is legitimate and safe. Ours happens to be run by a local female photographer, a magazine, and clothing shop owner (also female) so it checks out by credentials alone. Awesome safety tips here! 

Comment by Laura Byrnes on June 30, 2014 at 2:25pm

I agree with you re: this. We (Me, Micheline, PUG in general) have been asked in the past to sponsor and judge pinup contests, we;ve also been asked by fans, customers and models for vote for them in Pinup contests. We make it a rule to stay away from them in general. The main reason being that the contest format is usually problematic in some way. We don't like "cheer" based contests where the winners are the ones who can bring the most people to the event to make the most noise for them. We certainly don't like the ones that are an objectification-fest, like the ones you describe. Since we can never tell if the contest will be awesome or dissapointing, we figure its best to stay away in general. However I think it's a great idea to critique the contests that come around, and help set the standard for what a fun-for-everyone pinup contest would look like <3

Comment by Nikki on June 30, 2014 at 7:13pm

Well Devyn, THE Laura Byrnes commented on your post... I do believe you are famous! ;)


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