- Written by Lori Van Ingen Lori Van Ingen
The all-American sweetheart with the hourglass figure, unattainable except by pinning her flirtatious photo to your wall, was the first “dream girl.”
Pinups became widespread in the late 1800s with the national icon known as the Gibson Girl but reached their pinnacle as the United States entered World War II.”
The pinup images could be cut out of magazines or newspapers and often appeared on calendars. Posters of pinups were mass produced after being carefully designed by the U.S. government to boost the troops’ morale.”
Betty Grable, Rita Hayworth, Jane Russell, and Ava Gardner were among the most famous of the World War II pinups.”
The troops tacked the scantily clad pinups on their barracks’ walls and kept them tucked in their pockets. They were even painted onto the nose of their planes. These girls were waiting for them at home, and they were worth fighting for.”
Fast forward 70 years.”
Heather Hamilton, Pennsylvania state leader of Pinups for Patriots, said she has always loved the styles of the 1940s and ’50s era and did a photo shoot dressing up in vintage clothing for fun.”
It turned out so well that she was approached by friends to start a chapter of Pinups for Patriots in Pennsylvania. After researching the organization, Hamilton applied to be the state leader in 2014.”
Pinups for Patriots began in 2010 by founder Kalen Arreola, an Operation Iraqi Freedom veteran who thought there needed to be a support group that would be fun and put a smile on the faces of both young and old, according to the organization’s website.
Arreola chose vintage clothing because of its modesty and classic beauty. Clothes from the 1940s era are timeless and can be mixed with modern looks. The girls work hard to achieve a classy look that conjures nostalgia for the World World II era and that same spirit of a country united in service.
The organization’s mission now is to honor and serve our nation’s military, veterans, first responders, and their families by supporting and creating unique programs and events that will inspire our nation, foster patriotism, and raise awareness for post-traumatic stress disorder.
The women in the Pinups chapters across the United States are business owners, service members, veterans, military spouses, medical professionals, and more.
Pinups for Patriots (www.pinupsforpatriots.com) is a federal nonprofit organization, but it is currently working on getting state tax-exempt status, Hamilton said.
Although Hamilton never served in the armed forces, her husband, Dale “Al” Hamilton, served as a machinist mate in the U.S. Navy from 1986 to 1992 aboard the USS Butte and USS Richmond K. Turner. He was also stationed at the Charleston, South Carolina, and Earle, New Jersey, naval bases.
“I have a better understanding (of veterans and their needs) because I’m married to him,” she said. The Pennsylvania chapter now has 17 members, ranging in age from 18 to early 50s. Since they reside throughout the state, the ladies have a monthly conference call instead of meeting in person, said 37-year-old Hamilton, who lives in Howard, near State College.
Different members of the chapter attend the various events, but a lot of the girls try to participate in as many events as they can, Hamilton said.
The Pinups for Patriots participate in any kind of event, from working on military care packages to selling raffle tickets to taking part in a Pitching for Patriots horseshoe-pitching tournament.
At all events, the Pinup for Patriots ladies dress up in vintage clothing, with the exact type of fashion depending on the event. At one event, they wore rockabilly dress, Hamilton said. The retro-styled ladies find their vintage clothing in many places, including Facebook groups, vintage-clothing websites, yard sales, Goodwill, and the Salvation Army.
One of Hamilton’s most memorable events was when Pinups for Patriots served a meal to veterans at a senior living community on Veterans Day last year. The Pinup ladies had a chance to meet real-life Rosie the Riveters.
“We were able to sit down and talk to them and listen to their stories,” Hamilton said. “The best part is listening to the stories. They make us smile as much as we make them smile.”
Hamilton said Pinups for Patriots will be doing another Veterans Day event this year. The location had not yet been confirmed at press time, but it is a tradition for the group to serve veterans on Veterans Day, she said.
Anyone wishing to have the Pinups for Patriots participate in their event should contact Hamilton at firstname.lastname@example.org or (814) 389-8930. The Pinups for Patriots do not charge for their services.