Sunday, January 5, 2014

In Living Color

And I have no idea who they are

This photo struck me. I saved it, with no intent in mind. Now I know why. These gals are sassy, full of life, relaxed, enjoying the moment and look gorgeous. I don't wish to glamorize war— far from it— but sometimes we forget that any generation older than our own could not possibly have the same hopes, wishes, dreams or resemble us in any way. That's especially true of the WWII era, ingrained in our minds in black and white, as if lifted off the pages of Life magazine.

All our family photos are black and white as were most Hollywood movies— and those that weren't were in such startling shades of Technicolor that they became their own reality. WWII was so long considered black and white that Steven Spielberg shot "Saving Private Ryan" in as muted a color palette as possible so as not to jar our responses. In recent years the History Channel has shown footage tagged "World War II in Color". Color film was hard to get, unstable and expensive to process, but the images in color of young men jolt you into realizing this could have been my boyfriend/husband/son. The lasses above are not in color, of course, but they still manage to strike the chord Hey, that could have been a friend/a neighbor/a relative/me.

The following "rare photos of women in WWII" were obviously shot as a public service effort. The models —though no doubt chosen for being attractive— are not pros. Doesn't the color bring them to life? And isn't it a reminder that the more things change, the more they stay the same?

The iconic Rosie the Riveter poster was inspired by a (now lost to history) photo of a real woman, Geraldine Hoff Doyle. She was working at a factory in Inkster, Michigan, when the photo was taken that inspired the poster's artist, J. Howard Miller. Although the poster has been an icon for what a working woman can do, Geraldine quit her job at the war factory shortly after the photo shoot on account of how dangerous it was. Oh yes, they were human too.

Geraldine the Riveter

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