This look makes me feel like Rosie the Riveter.

My dad used to have these two huge picture books of all the Saturday Evening Posts that Norman Rockwell illustrated; my sister and I used to love those books. We’d flip through them for hours, making up stories for the main subjects of the paintings, and then going through again to add details for backgrounds, and then start over. Normal Rockwell was such an incredible artist, capable of producing works that made you nostalgic for memories you’ve never made, and heartbroken for heartbreaks you’ve never had.

Seriously, the guy was so talented.

He paints young couples getting married, mothers preparing a Thanksgiving dinner, boys getting caught trespassing at a swimming pool, baseball tryouts, ticker tape parades, roadtrips. And they’re not glamorous, not all of them. There are sagged cheeks and dirty fingernails, fraying hems and loose teeth. But there’s such a grounded realism in them, and that’s what makes them special.

He painted Rosie the Riveter too.

She’s not your typical Rosie poster: she’s not tidied up, with red lipstick and pretty eyes; her face is grimy, she’s slouching her expression ambivalent. Oh, and she’s literally stomping on a copy of Mein Kampf.

I remember seeing that picture and thinking of latent capability. Rockwell’s Rosie isn’t pretty, that’s not her defining characteristic. She’s not overtly patriotic, or enthusiastic. She’s doing her job, doing it well, taking a break she more than deserves.

Fast forward a dozen years or so to All University Sing, Baylor’s huge production of 7-minute shows by different sororities and fraternitis. The one year I participated, our theme was WWII, and the girls in our acts played Rosies. We danced in the beginning with our beaus, then sent them off, traded our polka skirts for overalls and it was honestly one of my favorite college experiences.

So now here I am, a few years later, back in denim and denim and hair pulled back. I did add a red lip, because the Westinghouse poster does have its merits. Here’s to the first week of summer, to powerful women, and to white sneakers

2 thoughts on “rosie 

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