Jun 26, 2012

Nina Leen and the Hair of American Women

A woman showing her fashionable wartime hairstyle called Winged Victory. NYC. 
All photos are courtesy of LIFE magazine archives and are captioned and dated accordingly.

This wonderful shot of a woman's hairstyle decorated with birds is from the August 23, 1943 issue of LIFE magazine and was part of a story about "amateur vs. professional ways of achieving a summer coiffure." It was taken by photographer Nina Leen, who shot thousands of photographs over the course of her career for LIFE magazine. She captured (I'd say lovingly) American woman in their day-to-day lives from the 1940s until 1972, when the magazine ceased publishing weekly. Her photoessays of housewives, young working girls, and socialites reveal the idealized femininity of the time and show both the public and private lives of women.

I present a few of Ms. Leen's photos here that speak to women and their hair.

Women Sitting and Reading under Hairdryers at Rockefeller Center "Pamper Club." 
July 14, 1952.

Wig Posing under Drier.
September 1958

Model Vikki Dougan attaching hair clips to wig.
July 1952

Model Vikki Dougan Wearing Attachable Bun of Extra Hair, Next to Other Wigs.
July 1952

September 1958

Models posing in wigs.
September 1958

Women's Hairpieces.
September 15, 1958
Singer Julie Wilson on phone beside closet with hanging evening dresses and wigs on top shelf.

Students Learning How to Put All of Their Hair on Top of Their Head,
Underneath the Shower Caps.
April 16, 1945.

Picture of an Woman with a "Butch Haircut."
Date unknown.

Triplets Christina Dees and Megan Dees Modeling Their Braids Before Getting Hair Cuts.
May 8, 1964
Location: Webster Groves, MO, US

Popular Shoulder Length Hairstyle Worn by Teenagers
August 4, 1947

Teen-Age Girls
December 11, 1944
Six HS sorority girls re-enacting solemn,
secret initiation ritual by candlelight for photographer because only a real member has ever seen the real thing.

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