We all know the legendary pin-up models of the past. Bettie Page, Marilyn and Jayne Mansfield. They exuded sex appeal, were the risque models of their day and spawned a legion of retro-inspired devotees. Donning high waisted playsuits, cropped knickers and a hair full of pin curls, pin-ups were the essence of 50s glamour.

However, racism was rampant during the hey dey of the pin-up model and few photographers dared to shoot African-American women in such salacious poses.To mainstream society Black women were not to be desired and to the the black community highly sexualized Black women was demeaning.

It wasn’t until the 1960s, civil rights and the “Black is Beautiful” era when few publications ventured to capture the beauty of the Black model. Playboy featured its first Black centerfold Jennifer Jackson in 1965 and mainstream Black magazines like Jet, Ebony and Hue had already begun to feature black models.

Jet Magazine specifically held black models to a higher esteem with publisher John Johnson showcasing “Jet Cover Girls” that were classy and beautiful and epitomized the pin-up style with cutesy poses and retro swimsuits. Jet went on to publish Jet Beauty of the Month calendar in 1964, and the magazine currently features a Jet Beauty of the Week.

Fast forward to today and “video vixens” are plastered over every hip hop magazine with entire magazines like KING and Black Men’s magazine dedicated to them. While history has said that black women weren’t desired or sexual, models like Melyssa Ford and Amber Rose with her steamy new King cover, have made a name for themselves and built a business off of their bodies.

While our foremothers desired to be accepted, today’s black pin-up model far exceeds the pin-up aesthetic.

But are the modern-day pin-up girls progressive because they expand the mainstream idea of what’s desirable? Or are their over-sexualized images setting us back? What are your thoughts on the Black pin-up model of yesteryear and today?

-Fajr Muhammad

Information courtesy Jim Linderman of vintagesleaze.blogspot.com

  • memphisKatiej

    She’s not black. Say what you will about her background and ancestry, but I think it’s disturbing that Clutch even put this picture of her up. Look at those beautiful photos of the pinups with obvious african ancestry. Is that not what this article is about? The author wrote about BLACK WOMEN being considered beautiful and sexy. If this is about looks then Sorry…… I don’t look at this woman with fair skin and blonde hair as black and she does not represent me or and other “negro” women that have been historically viewed as unattractive. Shame on clutch for this foolery!

    Also, I agree that the biracial look is being forced upon us as the ideal Blackness. It brings to mind the “light, bright, close to white” ideal that some people still put on a pedestal. I mean seriously, at the end of the day u can cry and whine about biracial people being included in black publications, but when publications and other mediums start to systematically exclude the beautiful women with darker skin tones then u condone this behavior by not speaking out about it. It can be a very slippery slope when talking about people’s racial identity… BUT, you can not tell me that based on looks alone it wouldn’t make sense to put Amber Rose in the category of the white pinups because she has light skin, light hair aesthetic. Our society is largely based on looks…. LOOK at Amber Rose and tell me if u see a black woman. Damn what u feel, Damn your quotes, LOOK at her!!!

    • memphisKatiej

      Oh darned…. I meant cocoandcreme… NOT clutch. I’m back and forth between the two!

    • AGirlNamedGoys

      I don’t put her in the “white” category, come on girl you know what “white” looks like. The one drop rule is real, our genes are stronger and you can tell she isn’t “white” she has us in her. No, she doesn’t represent the majority or the rest of us, no we shouldn’t ignore what is going on, no this probably wasn’t the best person to choose. But at the same time to alienate the mixed sisters is simply false. You know you got people in your family that look like her, and they just as “black” as you, so stop frontin.

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  • AustralianGirl


    I stick to what I said earlier regarding mixed-race people still being included in the ‘black’ category (where do you think Amber Rose got her golden-brown skin tone, full lips and b00ty?)…
    However yes I do agree that it becomes a problem if “publications and other mediums start to systematically exclude the beautiful women with darker skin tones”.

  • AustralianGirl

    and yes, I’m back and forth between ‘clutch’ and ‘cocoandcreme’ too! lol

  • C in Cleveland

    Me too, good articles on both sites.

  • Zen

    I agree that yes there needs to be more of a balanced presentation of what black beauty looks like in media and film. I would love to see more darker women represented because the variety would better mirror our community. What I don’t agree with is attacking women of lighter hues and attempting to negate their blackness and inclusive in our culture overall bc they tend to get cast for magazine covers, etc. Thats not right. If thats something that you take issue with write the magazines, casting directors, record labels who make these decisions. Otherwise your attacking your own people and creating disunity. The Willie Lynch letter is still working……..

    • AGirlNamedGoys


  • memphisKatiej

    Sooooo… just because people on this thread are claiming some obscure percent of black blood in this woman and pinpointing her parents ancestry which might or might not include African ( and y’all are doing this FOR her might I add) Black women are supposed to rally behind this woman and if not then Willie Lynch must’ve somehow warped our mind? Ummmmm, NO! I’d argue that this is about looks, and at the end of the day, this woman looks white like I said earlier. Her aesthetic is not African, Black, Negro, or colored. It just isn’t. That’s not being divisive…. that’s being real! Like I said, Look at those black pinups and then look at her. Now, tell me which one of those things is not like the other?!

    • AGirlNamedGoys

      You should probably stop now, you’re making yourself sound ignorant. Like you live in a hole or something. Africa is diverse and there were women like Amber’s mother in
      Africa BEFORE colonization. Your point is also moot because there is no scientific formula for “black” My mother is darker than me and my brothers father is spanish and he looks light like a hispanic. So hes not “black” either. There’s brown couples that come out with mixed looking babies and siblings with the same mother and father that look alot different OFTEN. Your comments make it seem like you are unaware of this as well as the history and cultures of the countries you are excluding.

  • Lindy

    I could care less about Amber Rose but yes she does look Black.She looks like some of my cousins-all with Black parents.She does not look like a white woman at all to me -just a light skin Black chic and yes shes beautiful.

  • Gigi Young

    Wow…can you guys stay on topic rather than going on a “who’s black”/”where’s the dark-skinned black woman” brigade? For all of the talk about being inclusive and discussing the colorism issues within the black community, so many of y’all get HET UP the second a multi-/bi-racial or light-skinned woman is used in a blog post (and 99% of the time, the topic isn’t even about color!).

  • AGirlNamedGoys

    My take on this:

    We should not be aspiring to foolishness. “We wanna be degraded too”= confusion. You can always (well, usually) tell they are trashing, not admiring, our bodies. And that is the difference between pin-ups and booty magazines.

  • Mixed Gurl 85

    WOW!!!! Are y’all for real??? Mixed, black, white…. who cares y’all can’t be serious with this bs. First of all get educated… black is a race and African american is an ethnicity. Anyone can fit the racial description of black since it is based on physical characteristics like skin color, hair texture, body type, facial features etc. You can’t be African american unless you have African ancestry. All of you people sound ignorant as hell, we all know how mixed people have been considered black because of the one drop rule…. that’s been since slavery. White folks didn’t want us biracial kids being white, so we had to identify as black. But I guess as always, massa’s chillins are just the victims of all this jealous bullshit just because they were in the house, while all the other “real African Americans” were slavin in the field. This is truly some racist ass bullsh*t and ya’ll are letting the wound fester. If we are 50% of both white and black, how’s that work out? We are automatically black to white people and white to black people? HUH? Now we gotta denounce our true selves to accommodate societal labels (which is ALL that race is)? Get REAL!!! Is Lena Horne not black? How about Halle Berry? Where were y’all when her mixed ass was receiving praise as the first African American woman to win an Oscar? How about Obama’s Mixed ass as the first black president? MoFos are wishy washy as hell, siting race as a reason to rally behind one person, but now bashing another, and for what? Because she isn’t all the way “black”? Come on now, that’s garbage. How is Tiger Woods a black golfer, he’s all mixed up racially, but that doesn’t stop the labels…..I guess you can only be black if you’re breaking through racial boundaries on behalf of African Americans. Alicia Keys is Black enough, but you all probably forgot about her white mama. What about Lenny Kravitz? Or Mariah Carey? If Amber Rose is white then Mariah has to be white too, right? LMAO It’s jacked up close-minded conversations like this that keep racism alive and well. I’m sick of hearing how biracial women have caused dark women to lose their beauty, or to be held to different standards of beauty. It’s 2011, get over it. It’s time to let this shit go. I have been hearing this light skinned bs for far too long, and its time for dark skinned women to get some confidence and self esteem. There is room for all of us, that’s what unity and diversity is about. Who cares what society says is beautiful? Do you and quit cryin…your’e drawing unnecessary attention to yourself, and its not a good look. This garbage is doing more harm than good for all races and ethnic groups. You people need to wake up and stop the hate! PERIOD.

  • Isis

    She’s not black. Serena Williams is black, not Amber Rose. Yall trying so hard to keep that racist one drop rule alive, well I don’t subscribe to that rule. A mixed race parent and a white parent does NOT produce a black baby no matter how hard modern day slaves want to make that person black. Lawd

    • Mixed Gurl 85

      Modern day slaves? WTF? Come on now, stop it. People are really bullsh*tin now. It is unfortunate how many people don’t know what being black means. Has anyone on here ever been properly educated to the facts?(For those who have, ignore the last statement) Black people are a MULTICULTURAL race of people….. get a clue if you’re gonna speak on it. I DEFY anyone to tell me that MY daddy isn’t black, when CLEARLY he is (I wish I could upload a pic of him and then you could see his black ass)….and guess what? He is the product of an Irish/Indian (from India, not Native American) woman and African American Father. His siblings are all as black as he is, so run tell that. He could never be nothing but BLACK! He is not like me, light skinned with curly hair and light eyes etc. etc. He looks as black as Danny Glover or Bill Cosby. Those are black men, or have I been deceived all these years? So I guess the more white you add to the mix the easier it is to erase the blackness? And you’re calling somebody else a modern day slave? The world is mixing races right and left and you are naive enough to think that there are pure blood races runnin around? I bet you have some white or something else besides African American somewhere in your family…. you should wise up for real.

  • Isis

    I’m 100% black so yes that gives me authority to dictate who is black and who isn’t. Biracial is just that biracial. Why is being black so damn terrible that any old person, who clearly isnt black, can be called black? Stop it!

  • Shonuff

    @Zen, you are the only one with good sense!

  • Mixed Gurl 85

    Who the hell died and made you Queen of Blackness? Please, #gagging! What is going on in a world where this bullsh*it is acceptable? It isn’t even an issue of trying to make someone black who isn’t, if you fit the physical characteristics, you’re black. Girl, you look crazy as hell, but if it helps you sleep at night, so be it. And Don’t you mean 100% African American? You truly need to educate yourself on the DIFFERENCE between a race (Black) and an ethnicity (African American). I know its hard, being smart and researching FACTS is not for the lazy or uneducated, but you can do it, just try. Google works for everyone. Just because you can run your mouth doesn’t make you an authority. If anything, You’re more like the authority on ignorant black women who don’t have a clue. Regardless of this bullsh*it rant your on, you are the authority of nothing… and furthermore you can’t dictate race, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, none of that. Newsflash, you’re not God. Even though I’m sure you think you are, you’re definitely not and your ignorant OPINIONS, (cause that’s ALL they are) don’t change the world we live in. Facts are what make you an authority on a subject, and you have none. Girl, you need some serious education, and while your’e at it you should research your bloodlines and genealogy so that you can know what’s really REAL. Africans/African Americans have been mixing bloodlines for centuries, and once again I say, there are NO PURE BLOODLINES. So good luck with all of your race issues, clearly being black has worn on your character or you would just be at peace with the world, but apparently you would rather spread disunity and all of this negative shit just because your black ass don’t want light-skinned women to get any shine. HATEFUL. Regardless if Amber Rose is black or not, you need some love or a life so you don’t have to keep spreading your queen of blackness garbage to those who are fine dealing with ALL shades of black. And for the record, do you even know where your own name comes from? I find it interesting how many black people want to make Egyptians black just because they are from Africa. But that doesn’t make them black or African. You probably didn’t know that since you’re very confused, mislead, and uneducated on the subject, but it is good to know the FACTS…. I know how you black queens get about your African Kingdoms, Dynasties and what not.

  • AustralianGirl

    MixedGurl 85,

    While I wouldn’t put it aggressively as you have, I do agree with you. I am a South African born woman, now living in Australia, who is from the ‘Cape Coloured’ community (mixed-race). However, many of us define ourselves as Black, as well as mixed-race.
    I know my heritage, I have Mozambican, Khoisan (indigenous now extinct Africans from Cape Town area), Phillipino, German and probably other things.

    I don’t agree at all with Isis, Africa is full of racial diversity, and different African countries have different features/skin tones.
    And Isis, sorry to break it to you, but if you’re African American, you probably have a little mix somewhere down the bloodline…. so by YOUR definition, the only people who are truly Black are pure blood Africans, i.e Sudanese. In other words, by YOUR definition, 99% of African Americans aren’t Black, they’re ‘mixed-race’!

    You are not an authority on Blackness, Isis. Even if you’ve appointed yourself.

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