Meg De’Lish: The Art is the Life
Written by Liam Sweeny on September 2, 2020
The pinup; the idea, the concept – is worldwide and expressed in many forms in all types of media, but it feels uniquely American. Many of us think of some of the best times in our recent history when they see a pinup. It is a celebration of form, infused in color, nestled in carefully constructed scenes.
Meg De’Lish is a photographer, pinup model, and an inspiration to many women who feel they could never be pinups. Meg believes that beauty is always present, trapped only in the limitations of the mind.
We sit with Meg and look at the world from behind the backdrop.
RRX: In my mind, when I think of pinups, I think of the ones painted on to bomber pilots in World War Two. Maybe it was good luck, or something easy on the eyes. What does the pinup have to offer in tough times, like war? And what do they offer any time?
MD: Pinup historically in wartime has been a reminder of home, something normal in the chaos. A reminder of beauty, especially in an ugly time like war. Pinup has always been about beauty, and that is a constant. Today some of the groups that I belong to like The Rockabetties and Vintage for Veterans are about supporting veterans. We attend events and take pictures with cars and people for donations to raise money for veteran causes. We also attend events where veterans will be in attendance, like honor flights. I get the privilege of thanking the veterans for their service and hear the stories from their military service and life experiences. They appreciate the sense of nostalgia we bring in our vintage style and personas. Another thing that pinup offers is support. We support all women, and encourage them to find their own beauty and strength. We support each other and all women, and as the world get more complicated, we can all use more support systems.
RRX: We like to see behind the curtain of the creative Oz. Pinup, on the other side of the camera and lighting, must be a lot of work. What goes into a typical shoot? And not just the make-up; the whole set design, the photographer, any daily rituals, etc.?
MD: There is so much that goes into a photo shoot, makeup is one thing, but it starts with a beauty routine that you do every day, not just on photo shoot days. The flawless look that is achieved is the result of a lot of work on both ends of the camera. It starts when a theme for a photo shoot is decided. On my end, I start sometimes months in advance planning costume, purchasing and sometimes fixing vintage items. Finding the appropriate accessories, sometimes making them or recreating something. Ordering vintage items and fabric not forgetting to plan for shipping time. A set has to be dreamed up and created, set pieces, props, and the backdrop. Lighting has to be planned and adjusted in just the right ways. The photographer has to think about and plan for, not just the camera angle, but the lens, and how it will interact with the set that is being created, the lights, backdrop, and of course the model. Test shots are done, lights are adjusted, props moved, backdrops tweaked. Then you get to the actual shoot. Doing hair and makeup can take many hours. The photographer is doing any last minute preparations. Sometimes we use effects, one example from a recent photo shoot they were getting dry ice set up to create fog. Then the model comes in and you have to adjust camera and lights for things like height and colors of dresses or hair. Then the two people have to work together and communicate to figure poses and shadows, so there are a lot of moving pieces. So, all the pulleys and gears at work might be surprising, not nearly as glamorous as you might think…and maybe a little boring.
RRX: Many women don’t feel like pinups, but you make everybody feel that way. You have shown a spectacular talent for accentuating a curve and focusing on that to bring out someone’s beauty. What does being a pinup say about body positivity? And what do you do to promote that positivity in others?
MD: Pinup and body positivity go hand in hand. That’s what pinups and pinup groups are about. There is beauty in all women, all shapes, sizes, ages, races, ethnicities, gender identities. We know what it can be like to struggle with self-image. We also know what it means to have support and how powerful that can be to a woman’s confidence. Once you have that support, gaining confidence in who you are and what makes you beautiful becomes easier. I take it as my personal mission, not only with my photography, but personally. When I am out making public appearances, or just chatting with people every day, I actively work to support women and remind them of how beautiful they are. Dressing “Pinup” or vintage tends to attract attention, both positive and negative. When I talk to women, they will often tell me how they wish they could dress this way. I talk about the personal struggles I’ve had, I talk about how I started doing pinup and posing for pictures when I was plus sized and that they can do it. There is a community of women who are ready, willing, able, and here to help you and support you, and that I am there to support them and all women as they find their confidence and let their beauty shine! It’s where my tag line comes from… “I’m De’Lish… And so are you!” I truly believe that all women are beautiful and “De’Lish” they only have to let it out.