A friend of mine doesn’t approve of the new 2016 Honoka‘a Girls Pin Up Calendar. It’s a sweet calendar of eight local Honoka‘a gals in classic 1950s travel-poster style clothes and poses, the brainchild of local business women, Sarah Anderson, local photographer, and Michelle Hartman, owner of Big Island Grown, a gift store for things made on the Big Island.
But my friend thinks it is sexist. I don’t agree with her. I’ve been a feminist since my teens and I see no conflict between the calendar and feminism. These gals are healthy, wholesome women expressing themselves in whimsical, fun, classy, playful poses.
The calendar actually fits right in with Honoka‘a’s image of a town fixed in time. (And we like it that way! No fast food chains, no stoplights, and plenty of Aloha, kindness and warm feelings.) The Honoka‘a Business Association is trying to promote that feeling through our recently acquired official town logo: “Small Town, Big Aloha.”
But this isn’t phony town marketing, and neither is the calendar. These gals are the genuine thing – real women from our town aged 17 to 60-something. They are all sizes, shapes and cultures.
There’s Desiree (Miss January and August) who you’ll see at Gramma’s Kitchen; Dominque (February and November), a local personal trainer; Alison (March and September), owner of Grace’s Flower shop; and Michelle (April and October) from Big Island Grown. Jessica (May) is the owner of Sweet and Savory, and Paula (June) performs in local theater productions and at one time, sang back-up for Don Ho! Jay (July and the cover) cruises town with her baby. It all wraps up with Megan, Miss December, the high schooler who started this story with her desire to have Sarah take a senior photo that was a bit different.
Many of the town merchants helped out with props and encouragement. Beth, owner of Chi Chi La Fong, is a strong advocate for local women. The vintage and “endangered” clothing that the store carries fits right in with the 1950s theme of the calendar. Beth’s thinking is much like mine. “Of course, we loaned props. I think this enterprise has done a lot of good for these local women and their positive self-image. And it’s not just the models. This is a story about the entrepreneurship of Sarah and Michelle. They can be proud to be role models for other women on the island.”
Other local merchants who loaned clothing and jewelry include Vera of Vera’s Treasures and Todd at our Salvation Army. The Ikeuchi Hardware Store loaned the wooden barrel for Miss March’s perch.
Then there’s Deacon Larry. He created his own little Plantation Days Museum in Honoka‘a, and at one time, his family owned the 50’s Highway Café in Laupahoehoe. So Larry was a wealth of props and a willing collaborator.
Brigid did the hair-styling and make-up for most of these gals. Sarah said, “She definitely completed the creative triangle and helped hold the space of love and whimsy on the set.”
Yes, the town came together to support Sarah, Michelle, and the gals who modeled for them. This is not a story of sexism and exploitation. It’s just another wonderful example of “Small Town, Big Aloha.” There is no sleaze here.
And now my confession. I’ve always wanted to be a pin-up girl. Not anything too racy – exactly what Sarah and Michelle have produced for their calendar.
I had to tell them that my feelings were a bit hurt that they didn’t ask me to pose in my Saloon-Girl costume. After all, I am Honoka‘a’s reigning Western Week Saloon Girl. But they gently explained that the theme of the calendar was 1950s, not 1890s. Oh, well, I can understand that (she said wistfully…)
If you want one of these calendars, you better hurry. Once these are gone, you’ll have to wait until next year’s calendar comes out. At the moment they’re thinking about another 50s theme. But they are open to creating calendars with fairies, men, seniors…how about “prosperous” saloon girls?
PS. December 2017: The new 2017 Pin Up Calendar is out! Check out their website at dreamshootshawaii.com.
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