The quintessential pinup girl tattoo is a throwback to a time when people had only one outlet for sex symbols or a sweetheart back home, a photograph or picture cut out from printed media. The origin of the term is a literal definition, as a woman so memorable that men would cut out her picture and pin it up to their wall, bunk, or locker. Often these were modified from photographs of the celebrities at the time that were considered to be sex symbols, with the main girl of the time being Betty Grable then with the rise of Pop culture, Marilyn Monroe.

Betty, and her legs, were the main girl to be seen in pictures carried by the GI’s of the time. During the war the pictures went from being on the walls of the bedroom into the pockets of soldiers as both a reminder of a beautiful girl who performed for troops, and as a little chunk of Americana to remind them who, and what, they were fighting for. The original posed photo of Betty is still in use today as a basis for the modern pinup tattoo. The real idea of a pin up girl is any girl who transmits the plain and simple sex appeal of a beautiful flirt. Often the tattoos of these girls will have them scantily clad and posing seductively to attract the eye. They serve to attract the eye with a coy smile and a promise of more waiting for them when the soldiers return home.

Pin-ups often took on special meaning for the troops and the times, so patriotic designs, hula girls, or state symbolism (cowgirls, California blondes, Southern belles) personalized the images. The Classic Pin-up, or vintage tattoo, harken back to Old school design in colors and style. The modern Pin-Up has evolved into anything from Zombies to bright and cartoon-y smooth New School with the innovations in machine and ink technology.

The Pin-up girl tattoos have always focused on a seductive girl as a representation of the female form. Whether boldly outlined Classic, or highly rendered Modern, it is a staple of body modification and adornment.

Here are some of our favorite pinup girl tattoos: