In most pictures you see of Bettie Page, she is smiling. Her photos, even the posed ones, carry this intoxicating playfulness. She wasn’t the prettiest woman of her time. She didn’t have the best body or the best fashion sense. Hell, when she was paving the road for all illustrious women after her she had no idea anyone would follow her, and didn’t care all that much if they did. What made Bettie Page an icon was she was unapologetically herself. Period.
Since her resurgence in the 80’s and 90’s, her style has been replicated. You see legions of beautiful tattooed women in photo-shoots, legs up and topless with the straight cut curled bangs and the wavy hair, talking on telephones and doing their nails. You see their perfectly wide teeth and skin that looks like it was hand crafted by Sailor Jerry, their smiles brimming with artistic instruction. I’m not here to trash these women, most of which I admire heavily and wish I could be-but in emulating that style so heavily I feel like you lose any authenticity, the authenticity that made Bettie Page, well, Bettie Page.
Your goal shouldn’t be to become the next Bettie Page, or Grace Kelly or Scarlet Johansen- Your goal should be to become the first YOU. If someone can compare you directly to someone else like that, than you are not authentic, you are just a copy cat of someone else. Style is taking bits and pieces of the world around you and making it your own. Signature is about taking things that came before you, having your own spin on it and in turn making it something original.
So when my words hit the paper, and your eyes meet them, I don’t want you to think, “She’s like Lahiri, or Path, or Dickinson.” I want my lasting impression to be “She is.. unapologetically herself, like Bettie Page.”