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The History of Boudoir

Updated: Apr 14

Boudoir can date back to the 1840's.

The word boudoir is French. It comes from the French verb bouder, which means “to sulk.” or withdraw to. Boudoirs were originally designed as private rooms for women to withdraw to in order to be secluded and away from family members. I call that my "safe room"!



Many of us know that alcohol was prohibited in the 1920's, but did you know that sexually suggestive images were also prohibited. Shocker, right! Born on May 8, 1886, near Grafton, MA, Albert Arthur Allen is recognized as the father of boudoir. Some even call him a rebel. Albert moved to California in his early 20s. He specialized in photographing fully nude models in front of highly ornate backdrops. Many current day photographers still practice this style of boudoir photography. Albert's images were deemed obscene on multiple occasions, he believed that his work was neither erotic nor explicit. “To see womankind entirely nude would place all women on equality,” Allen had said. “And it would be only their true mental and physical charm that would lift them from the ordinary.” Highly stylized, Allen’s photographs referenced Classical motifs, and models posed under his careful direction.




In the 1930's and 1940's there was Betty Grable. Betty was the face of the iconic pin-up-girl-look. Coming out of the Prohibition, pent up sexuality was on full display. During the Second World War, even the US Government got in on the action. Our government actually used a pin-up of Betty as propaganda to persuade young men to enlist into the war. In their recruiting for the war, they used phrases like, “She’s worth fighting for” and “Come home to your girl a hero”. Women started commissioning their own pin-up drawings and photographs to send to their husbands away at war as motivation for their safe return. Betty even insured her legs for a million dollars. In those days that was unheard of. Some say it was a publicity stunt, but we don't care.






I don't think anybody is more iconic than Marilyn Monroe. Marilyn Monroe was an American actress, model, and singer. Famous for playing comedic "blonde bombshell" characters, she became one of the most popular sex symbols of the 1950s and early 1960s. Did you know that she never actually posed for playboy's famous 1st edition magazine? In fact, when the late Hugh Hefner used "the famous Marilyn Monroe nude" Monroe hadn't consented to the then-four-year-old images use, nor had Hefner directly paid her a dime. Monroe had posed nude for pinup photographer Tom Kelley in exchange for the $50 in 1949. She needed to make a car payment and was low on cash. Hugh purchased the rights to Monroe’s nude photos from the Chicago-area company in fall 1953 for a reported $500. Marilyn never received a dime from Playboy for the use of her image. Marilyn and Hugh never officially meet as she passed before he moved to the Playboy Mansion in the 1974. Marilyn died in 1962 but her impression on the industry would last a lifetime!


The 70's are known for sex, drugs, and rock and roll! With the rise of the hippie movement, women were becoming even more empowered with their bodies and the 70's sexual revolution help catapult boudoir photography! That, combined with advertising that now regularly featuring boudoir images, the 70's provided a diverse canvas for boudoir artists. Women wanted to be liberated by showing off their beauty and sexuality.



Obviously, boudoir is about so much more than sexy photographs. Today, when we think of boudoir it makes a great gift for a significant other, but more often than not, boudoir is becoming a way for women to embrace and celebrate themselves. It is also used to help women heal from trauma. To be able to see yourself as strong and beautiful is very therapeutic. The 90's body image of "the perfect body" is being broken with full figured woman of every size, shape, and color. You too can be a part of the history of Boudoir.


Sources: Google Images, Wikipedia, Google, Yahoo.com, Albert Arthur Allen | Artnet, Marilyn Monroe Didn't Actually Pose for the First Issue of 'Playboy' - Biography

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