Date of Award


Document Type

Thesis - Open Access

Degree Name

MA in Women's History


Women’s History Graduate Program


This thesis is an exploration of how the iconography, consumption, and meaning of World War II pin-ups resemble religious discourses; demonstrating that U.S. soldiers’ interactions with pin-ups mirror the ways that Catholics worship icons of saints and the Virgin Mary. To reach this conclusion, first popular World War II pin-up images such as the Varga Girl, Hurrell photographs, Rita Hayworth’s Life pin-up, and Betty Grable’s pin are analyzed in terms of their composition. How soldiers’ consumed these pin-ups are evident in photographs of GIs lives during World War II where pin-ups are seen in battlefields, military bases, and painted on planes. Looking at soldiers’ writing about women and pin-ups during the war shows how they idolized these women and saw them as protectors, paralleling the ways that Catholics in the war looked to the Virgin Mary for protection and forgiveness.