Dorothy Turnbull wasn’t above using sex appeal to sell the WAVES – as long as it was wholesome sex appeal.
You see, well, they were showing the audience that we had that had gotten together. They were were showing how the women in the Navy were still women. And ladies. That was the whole thing was to let society know that our girls were their girls. They were mothers, perhaps — well, not mothers. They were daughters and sisters. This was one method of getting something a little risqué — bathing suits.
This photograph of a WAVES recruitment event in Galveston comes from the collection of Dorothy Turnbull Stewart.
The ATS (Auxiliary Territorial Service), which was the women’s branch of the British Army during World War II, had a number of recruitment posters, one of which became quite famous. It attracted much attention in the Press and was criticized in the British Parliament for being too glamorous. The poster, which was nicknamed the ‘Blonde Bombshell’ was eventually withdrawn.
The WAVES used some key pin-up artists for the WAVES, including Antonio Vargas and George Petty. But the Navy chain of command also was pretty vigilant to make sure the poster’s all passed muster and none went over the top. It is hard to strike the right balance.