Girl in a Glass House

Another essay completed, thankfully out of the way for Christmas, and then I have to start planning a dissertation, for which I have no ideas at all.  I do, on the other hand, now know a bit more about propaganda photography in WWII – how useful.  Interesting, though.  What go me into the latest essay was this strange picture from the archives of the US Office of War Information:

Alfred T. Palmer, Woman Aircraft Worker, 1942

Alfred T. Palmer, Woman Aircraft Worker, 1942

documenting the increased involvement of women in industry during the war.  What is this woman, apparently dressed for a day out, doing with filthy oil-stained gloves and a pile of electrical wiring?   The propaganda was aimed at recruiting women into war work, and the message is something like ‘you can work for the war and still look a woman’ (or at least like the conventional stereotype of a woman).  Lots of comments about this image on Flickr suggest that she is a model, not an actual industrial worker, but that is extremely unlikely  – it’s just not the way these photographers worked.

Girl in a Glass House, US recruitment poster, 1942

Girl in a Glass House, US recruitment poster, 1942

Another image by the same photographer was made into a poster. In his caption he describes this lady as a ‘girl in a glass house’, neatly summarizing the patronizing attitudes behind the propaganda, and giving me a catchy title for the essay.

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