First published in Trespass Magazine on 24/11/2009

Our Girls; Aussie Pin Ups of the 40s and 50s

Madeleine Hamilton

I’ve recently become quite preoccupied with Australian history, since learning more about the convict ancestry on my mother’s side and seeing bits and pieces of a memoir being published on my father’s side. So I was rather thrilled to receive this lovely little book in the mail, packed as it is, with tales and photos from 1940s and 50s Australia.

Self professed aficionado of mid-20th century design and pop culture, Madeleine Hamilton has gone looking for Australia’s answer to the bombshells and Cheesecake girls and the result is a beautiful trip down Australian culture’s memory lane.

In the fascinating post-war period, Australian women were, according to Hamilton, ‘leading far more complex lives than the ads for refrigerators and floor cleaners suggested.’ The notion of femininity and sexuality, a continually morphing concept, was once again on the move. As was Australia as a country, growing quicker than the hem of her skirt could be let down. It was an exciting period and these girls were the provocative faces of its popular culture.

We can rattle off the American beauties of the 40s and 50s with ease. We know their stories, their mythology and their, more often than not, tragedies. But we know nothing about our own girls, which is what makes this book such a little treasure. Along with photos of the girls in all their suggestive glory, original magazine covers and posters, Our Girls; Aussie Pin Ups of the 40s and 50s looks at the stories behind the women with the artfully posed legs and sparkly eyes – and let me tell you, they make for far more interesting reading than the ones behind today’s pin ups, who pale in comparison in every which way.

Arcade Publications

RRP $18