Geraldine Doyle and Rosie the Riveter
Today marked the passing of Geraldine Doyle, the woman whose face served as the model for Rosie the Riveter. She clearly led a long and full life, but amidst the reports of her demise, one detail of this story stuck out. Apparently, she didn't recognize that her face was on the iconic poster until 1982! And she didn't have large, powerful biceps! She had delicate, small arms, and she stopped working at the factory to protect her fingers for playing the cello!
This is like learning that the lumberjack guy on Bounty towels was actually whatever the opposite of a lumberjack is -- a mime? Harry Reid? Or that the Charmin Bears actually avoid toilet paper at all costs. Or that the model for Uncle Sam was French.
But this makes me worry. If she didn't know that she was in the picture for years, I could be on a milk carton somewhere and not know it! And if this can happen to the most iconic image of a woman of the past century, what on earth is off limits?
Mona Lisa probably didn't realize what she was sitting for. "Oh my God, that's me!" she thought, seeing the picture. "Why does my smile look so weird?"
Venus de Milo actually was a woman with arms. "That looks nothing like me," she said. "My arms are my most distinguishing feature."
I bet that's how Mark Zuckerberg felt after seeing the Social Network. "That's oddly similar to my life," he noted, wandering out of the theater. "I guess they're running out of ideas."
Or how the poker dogs feel. Or how any flowers that Georgia O'Keeffe painted feel. "That's me?" the flowers ask. "I always assumed it was something else."
But maybe it's better this way. Rosie the Riveter is one of those composite characters who dwell only in the public mind. Geraldine Doyle may have departed. But Rosie remains, indelible, greater than the sum of her body parts.
| December 30, 2010; 5:30 PM ET
Categories: Petri, That's awkward | Tags: RIP, art
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