The Gibson Girl was created by a man named Charles Dana Gibson. She was the epitome of the perfect woman in the early 1900’s. It was easy to tell that she was tall and slender with ample curves in all the right places, yet she still dressed demurely which is a representation of the time period. Although the Gibson Girl was only an illustration, she was possibly the first pinup girl, and what we most closely associate with retro pinup.
The Gibson Girl managed to progress with the times. Her hem became shorter as well as did her collar. While Gibson was the first to use her image, and hence the name, the Gibson Girl was soon drawn by many illustrators and used for product promotion. The Gibson Girl sold everything because everyone wanted her in their home.
The most important thing about the Gibson Girl as it relates to her role in the pinup industry is what she stood for. The Gibson girl was the perfect woman of her time. She had beauty, she was demure, she had limited independence, and she was there to perform her duties. But all the while, she was worshiped for these reasons. If only she were a real, live woman!
Illustrators continued to use images of the Gibson girl through several decades, and she made appearances in vintage art. However, she moved through the changing times with grace and ease. One of the illustrators of the Wonder Woman comic book modeled his illustrations after the Gibson Girl. What a tribute!
Eventually, the Gibson Girl’s image was portrayed using real women. These women still personified every quality of the Gibson Girl, but she was given life! Rather than looking at an inked drawing, the pinup girl looked as if she were looking right back at you. This is when pinups truly evolved into the pinup girls we see today.
There is no denying that the Gibson Girl portrayed everything that was expected of the “perfect” woman. While nobody can be considered perfect, her image tried to dissuade this. She was perfect and she was worthy of the adoration of men and women alike. While the pinup girls of later days started showing a lot more skin, the standard remained the same. She will always be the fantasy that makes us believe that the perfect woman exists. And once she did exist, drawn in ink, and she was the Gibson Girl!