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Old 5th December 2009   #1
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Join Date: July 2005
Posts: 517
Default The original Sun-Maid Raisin girl

This is just another example of how the beauty ideal of a hundred years ago was infinitely lovelier and more natural than the alien aesthetic that the media imposes today.

Most everyone has heard that the Sun-Maid company recently "updated" its iconic Raisin Girl by turning her into a tanorexic, emaciated waif with silicone implants. The results are outright disgusting.

Curiosity drove me to have a look at what the original Sun-Maid girl looked like. Feast your eyes. This is the package of a Sun-Maid Raisin box from 1916:

Wow. Can you believe it? She's so beautiful! She's young, pretty, with round facial features, languishing eyes that melt your heart, sensually full cheeks (and high cheekbones too). She looks well-fed, robust, and gorgeous. She'd be a perfect plus-size model today.

There was even apparently a Sun-Maid calendar produced at the time, and the girl in the images was similarly curvaceous. You can see a bit of a natural swell at the abdomen.

Here's another vintage ad with the original Sun-Maid girl. Just look at that adorable, doll-like face.

Interestingly, the Sun-Maid girl was a real person -- a certain Lorraine Collett Petersen. Here is her image in 1915. It's small, but you can see that she has plump shoulders, soft skin, and no protruding clavicle.

The history of how she came to be the Sun-Maid girl is quite lovely. It's like a scene from a dreamy, old-fashioned movie (you know -- the wonderful kind, the kind that they don't make anymore):

In May 1915, she was discovered drying her black hair curls in the sunny backyard of her parents' home in Fresno, California. She was then asked to pose for a painting while holding a basket tray of fresh grapes. This striking image was first applied to packages of Sun-Maid raisins in 1916. Over the years, this image has been seen on millions and millions of packages and has been taken into homes throughout the world.

The treasured original watercolor painting is today kept safely in a concrete vault at Sun-Maidís headquarters in Kingsburg, California.

Sometimes we forget that in 1915 there were no electric hair dryers, that television would not be invented for decades to come, and that automobiles were not in every home. Life was much simpler, more rural, a lot less hectic and sunbonnets were still part of womenís fashion in California.
Here's another view of the original Sun-Maid girl on an early box of raisins. I just adore the sweet, well-fed, Old World look that she has. It's so attractive.

To see the company turn from this luscious, buxom girl to their modern, synthetic, CGI waif, is abhorrent -- but just another example of the degeneration of the modern world.
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Old 5th December 2009   #2
Join Date: July 2005
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Default Re: The original Sun-Maid Raisin girl

How true--the original Sun-Maid girl was a vision of loveliness, with a face so soft, full, and angelic that she could have stepped straight out of an Angelo Asti painting. And how regrettable, if predictable, that the Sun-Maid company should have now replaced this replete beauty with a shrivelled-up husk of a waif.

There is something genuinely timeless about the juxtaposition of a well-fed maiden with juicy grapes. Both she and her bounty embody the luscious aspects of nature. She seems like a latter-day personification of the goddess Ceres--or a Bacchante. That the grapes that she carries are associated with both fruit and with wine-making is especially fitting, for her sumptuous beauty is as intoxicating as any Napa Valley vintage.

Looking at the Sun-Maid image made us reflect on how perfect a setting the vineyards of California would be for a plus-size-model shoot. And, as fortune would have it, one such campaign does exist--Barbara Brickner's fall 2006 promotion for C.J. Banks, which was shot in the Napa Valley.

The rustic aspects of this shoot perfectly suit Barbara's voluptuous beauty. True, a sunny summer campaign would be even closer in spirit to the Sun-Maid image, but these pictures do capture the sense harmony of between the model's robust physique and the bountifulness of the natural world.

Although the Sun Maid's face is a touch fuller and rounder than Mrs. Brickner's, the soft, romantic waves of Barbara's tresses recall the dark curls of the Sun Maid's hair.

The image of Barbara with the picnic basket was a particular favourite when this campaign came out.

It would be a treat to see a full-figured model photographed in the kind of pretty, feminine bonnet that the Sun-Maid girl wears. That bonnet does so much to give the logo its appealing Old World look. Mind you, a straw hat of the kind shown below would more than suffice as an alternative.

What made this C.J. Banks campaign so memorable was that it was shot in a gorgeous location, where the beauty of the natural world--the fields, the blue skies--harmonized with the model's timeless grace. Plus-size promotions have lost a great deal, in recent seasons, by restricting themselves to bare, studio backdrops. Verdant settings of the kind seen in this campaign contribute greatly to the beauty of a photoshoot, especially when full-figured models are involved. One hopes that plus-size retailers will revive this kind of artistry in the future.

And it would indeed be a pleasure to see more campaigns inspired by the beauty of that lovely Sun Maid of yore.

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Old 6th December 2009   #3
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Default Re: The original Sun-Maid Raisin girl

Originally Posted by HSG
It would be a treat to see a full-figured model photographed in the kind of pretty, feminine bonnet that the Sun-Maid girl wears. That bonnet does so much to give the logo its appealing Old World look.
I just thought of one! It's a costume, not regular apparel per se, but it definitely shows a beautiful full-figured model in a bonnet that resembles the Sun Maid's - Kelsey Olson, modelling one of Torrid's Hallowe'en outfits from earlier this year.

She looked amazingly pretty in that bonnet. The whole getup was costumey, of course (that's what it was meant to be), and, like the rest of the ensemble, the bonnet wasn't meticulously designed - since Hallowe'en costumes are just meant to be disposable outfits - but there's no question that Kelsey looked adorable with this accessory.

If you could imagine Kelsey in a regular white peasant blouse instead of the pink costume, something similar to what the Sun-Maid girl wears, I could easily see it being an attractive and wearable fashion choice.

As long as the rest of the ensemble would be more basic, I could really see it working. After all, we saw the return of big, soft hats a couple of seasons ago, which were very vintage-looking.
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