Pin Up for a Cause
By: Krysta Kearney
“Confident women...not only do we recognize each other, we feed off each other. There is an awareness I notice.”
Maybe they’re pinned up at your own house, or a friend’s, or the neighborhood hangout, the restaurant down the block, for everyone there is at least one place they frequent that has pinned up photos of beautiful women gracing the walls with their empowering presence. Have you ever questioned how it came to be a style; or did you know the meaning behind the photos runs deeper? Pin Up culture has been growing for well over a century now and creating a positive influence and change in communities worldwide. Pin-Up photography is all about tantalizing the viewer. They are tasteful, women are clothed, the attitude of the poses are suggestive yet elusive, leaving the viewer to only wonder what the commentary would be next. Dating back as far as the 1850’s Pin-Up photography began with the mass production of photos of women in theater. The term ‘Pin-Up’ didn’t come until the 1940s where people would find photos, drawings, and paintings in magazines and books, all of which were mass-produced and would adorn walls as decoration. Historically women were told to suppress their individuality in fashion and hide their bodies’ unique features. So why not accentuate your attributes, show pride in who you are both inside and out, and take the shame out of being a female? Show that it’s not a weakness, that there is actually a lot of power in being a woman! When PinUp culture gained popularity in the 1940s and 50’s it gave women self-confidence. The empowerment behind the message of pinup, to embrace who you are, no matter your size or shape not only changed women’s minds and how they viewed themselves but it also influenced society, as it encouraged women from all over to break out of the social norms of what once was, embracing a new thought. To this day, the message remains the same, it is all about creating a healthy respect for the female body and that everyone is beautiful in their own way.
Amongst all these powerful women, there is one who Moxxi was fortunate enough to sit down and speak to, her given name is Meghan Craig but she goes by Miss Meg De’lish. She in totality emanates pin-up culture, is a true representative of all that it entails, the vision, the mission and it’s strength. Through her lenses of life, she views the whole picture. First and foremost, she knows how to have fun, and second, she helps and consoles people. It wasn’t until she was in her mid 20’s that she discovered what Pinup culture is all about, and upon that first glimpse, she never looked back.
Throughout the many careers in her life, her photography business, MKC Photography of NY has always been her mainstay. The passion dates back as far as high school, where her creative interest sparked and she was gifted the best present in the world, a camera. At first, she photographed landscapes and sold them at local festivals in and around the capital region of upstate NY (where she hails from). She recalls in her late teens and early 20’s setting up shop at the area’s largest events such as Albany’s renowned Tulip Festival and Art on Lark, where people would visit from far and wide. To her dismay, her photography took off running and she had overwhelming support, which only encouraged her to create more and push her business further. During this time, she also obtained her degree in accounting, then shortly thereafter became a young mother. Through all of this, she continued her passion pursuing photography. Oddly enough, her landscape photography is what eventually directed her to pin-up culture. Since her landscapes had been selling so well, she started looking for a small trailer to use that would enable her to travel to a broader range of festivals, one that she could store more work in and even sleep in overnight.
One day, while on a joy ride in the nearby mountains, she found herself in the middle of nowhere at an intersection on a backwoods country road, and there she was, the perfect beat-up old camper, everything that she had dreamed of, and it was for sale at a whopping price tag of only $200. It was everything she wanted. Without a question she bought it and while fixing it up and researching more about it, she realized it was a very unique vintage trailer, called a Boler, which was introduced to the market in 1968. These fiberglass beauties are known to be lightweight, ideal for family travel. She caught wind of a vintage camper and trailer show that was taking place in Canada (Boler’s are Canadian built), so in an effort to learn more about her own trailer and meet people that shared the same passion, she made the trek across the border. Of course, she discovered a world full of vintage trailer wonderment with enthusiasts that had traveled far and wide geeking out over these charming mobile works of art. After returning home, she vowed with excitement that she would return the next year. As she continued to learn more about her Boler, she came across an old picture of a woman posing in front of the same make and model, dressed to the nines in pinup couture. It inspired her to do the same, to go to the festival dressed in similar attire. The reaction from people was empowering! She had so much fun, people loved the get-up, her persona, everything about it. This encouraged her to want to dress up more, not just in the festival scene but back at home too.
At the time, she was 320 pounds. Dressing pinup style made her feel more beautiful than she ever had, people complimented her and said how gorgeous she was too. It encouraged her to embrace her own feminism, have the courage to show her body and also shine her own light, be her own person. De’lish explained to Moxxi that Pin-Up style clothing is very flattering no matter what body type you are, there are designs in every shape and size imaginable. It accentuates the female figure, shows off curves, and highlights a woman's best features. The clothing is all about glamour and grace.
“You can pull attention into your body without having to have a tiny waist. Let me tell you, I have a big bum, and let me tell you those dresses are perfect for that.”
From that moment, everything started to snowball, for the good. One pin-up discovery would lead to the next and before she knew it she was completely enamored and in love with the whole culture. Getting involved was good for her own character, her confidence and she became part of a larger community, it brought so much to her. Her social life flourished, as she would get all dressed up and go see live music, little did she know how much she had a love for rockabilly music!
Meg De’lish is way more than just a pretty face, she ties her beauty into everything that she does. She shares her passions and ambitions with others and encourages people to do the same. She is charming and seductive yet intelligent and witty. Her presence cannot go unnoticed, as her persona carries with you after you have met her. Not only is she a fearless female but her exemplary personality inspires and challenges others, but most importantly she never stops challenging herself.
De’lish started connecting with these women and took it beyond just that initial conversation. She began to create friendships and a whole new community emerged for her. She would share her hints and tips on how to dress pin-up and give advice on make-up styles and application. Women would come over to her house and try on clothes, find what they thought was beautiful and they would borrow clothes and have clothing swaps. De’lish got involved in her local swing dancing scene which also became something that she fell in love with. All of this led to her wanting to do something bigger and better, something that met more, how could she use this newfound interest that she was passionate about and give back to others?
She researched pinup groups in and around NYS and found, ‘Vintage For Veterans,’ which is a Syracuse based group that works with veterans and the community. On a whim, she emailed the founder Melody Wilkinson, better known as, Miss Lizzy DeVille. Immediately Deville called her up and right off the bat was like, “Hey girlfriend, I hear your plus size Betty?!!” (De’lish’s former name) and from that moment on they had an instantaneous friendship, that still holds strong and true to this day. De’lish joined the club, it was exactly the type of group she was looking to be a part of.
Present-day, They go under the umbrella term ‘The Rockabetties’ since many members wanted to support a variety of causes outside of only veterans. Vintage For Veterans is still a sector of the group. With the name, the public recognizes one larger entity. 75% of what they do involves raising money and the other 25% is fun vintage things such as hosting makeup tutorials, having photo shoots, vintage picnics and more. They attend car shows, air shows, visit nursing homes and go to a variety of events that honor veterans. Every Rockabetty has to withhold a certain amount of volunteer hours to remain part of the group. They want to make sure to keep everything together and consistent, so they have a purpose. Some of the volunteer work consists of selling baked goods, modeling at photoshoots, or even at photo booths where displays will be set up and people pose with the Rockabetties. At car shows, guys love having pictures of their vehicle with the girls, they go to parades and in general just like to be there to thank veterans. The money they raise goes right back to the cause they are supporting.
“You will get WWII veterans that will say, ‘You remind me of the girl I wrote home to...you look like her!’ (De’lish couldn’t hold back the tears when talking about this) Then you get the Vietnam war veterans, they’ll say to us, ‘We were never thanked when we got home.’ So it is a big deal to us, to thank them. It means a lot. The girls…we’re always in tears.”
The volunteer work is not just rewarding, it’s honorable, it is so special to her that she can give back while doing what she loves. The Rockabetties get to touch so many lives, all the while their lives are being touched by others too. Their fans will even attend events just to come and see them. People love to see them and be around them. It’s not just about the way they dress, it’s about the positivity they emanate, they make people feel good, the persona they have, and the atmosphere they create.
“As far as pin-up groups go, the awesome thing is you all have the same thing in your heart. Most pin-up groups work with charities, so as far as the Rockabetties, they are the biggest group in NY, there are 400 girls! There are other smaller groups in NY and they will collaborate. There is a group in Buffalo that does the honor flights, a lot of times girls will sing or perform, or be part of a USO show. It doesn’t matter what group you are in, you can just show up.”
The community is a true sisterhood. Everyone supports and lifts each other up. They encourage one another to be strong and embrace themselves. They create a commonplace, where women aren’t ashamed to flaunt their femininity. De’lish is connected to women all over the world and knows that anywhere she travels, she will find people alike and they will accept her.
Back to De’lish herself, who is the woman behind Meg De’lish? Whose Meghan Craig? Well, in a lot of ways they are one and the same, but to get to know her a bit better and how Meg De’lish came to be, we would like to backtrack a little. As said, she is a photographer and plans to always be a photographer.
“I’ll always be doing photography, it’s my heart, its my soul, it’s my love, it’s my passion.”
Career-wise, throughout the years she hasn’t always relied solely on photography. In her 20’s she spent seven years creating drawings of houses for contractors. The job was fulfilling and she learned a lot. As a woman, she found herself in an interesting role, as there were never any other women around the job sites. The industry is completely male-dominated, and with being the only female she had to withhold her integrity. She would show up on construction sites and men would always be surprised. They wouldn’t feel comfortable with her, she would have to be outspoken and directly tell them that she was a reliable source and she knew what she was talking about.
After that, for about 10 years, she was a stay-at-home mother of her two daughters and owned an in-home daycare. She feels very privileged to be able to take care of kids, be trained in first aid and CPR, and in general be such an influential part of their lives. During this time she dabbled in her photography as well but was focused mainly on running the daycare. She absolutely loved it but eventually, she became fed up with some of the tribulations that went along with running it, more on the business side of things.
“Waiting to get paid, having to bring people to court to get paid…I didn’t like that. I just wanted a little break from the stress of the business part. I had a very sexist inspector. He was part of the reason I finally decided to close my daycare.”
It’s been about 5 years now since she closed down the daycare. Thankfully a lot of the kids and their parents stay in contact with her, so she keeps updated on all their life happenings. There was a chauvinist inspector, who would come and make sure the business was running properly, he wasn’t ok with her knowing how to do things on her own, him feeling challenged by a woman wasn’t something he was used to, so he went about his business improperly. He became very nasty to her and unprofessional. He accused her of being hasty because she spoke up for herself. This along with a few other things became her final straw and she knew it was time to move on to other endeavors.
Now, she is in her first semester pursuing a college degree to be a psychologist. Since she was in high school she always wanted to be a therapist. Having moved out of her house at a young age and having kids young, it always fell on the back burner. Recently, when her daughter enrolled in college, the idea of going back to school started to flourish in her head. With the hit of the Covid-19 Pandemic, she became unemployed and wanted to do something proactive with her time, so she decided ‘why not’ and enrolled at Schenectady Community College to complete her general education classes. After two years, she plans to transfer to the University of Albany, as they have a renowned psychology program. She isn’t clear as to what psychology field she wants to get into yet, but is steering towards either gender studies, or working with people with PTSD. She wants to use her degree to help with causes that she feels need to be fought for.
Also, she has partnered up with Bombshell Studios where they focus on boudoir photography. This experience has been super amazing, they are always empowering women. Oftentimes they get a bunch of women together, models and photographers and they just have fun. It’s an experience that’s full of energy, they cheer and laugh while posing for photos and trying on clothes, they exchange ideas and share their talents.
The Covid-19 pandemic really set her back a bit and in ways she is just now getting involved again. A lot of good things have sparked from the time at home also, like enrolling in college. She was someone who really didn’t go anywhere. De’lish has an autoimmune disease. Being diagnosed at 17 with Hashimoto’s Disease, she has been experiencing symptoms her whole life. There are days where she can’t get out of bed and is crying in pain and days where she gets by ok. It causes chronic thyroid damage and can be fatal.
“Any illness you can think of, the thyroid makes those symptoms. Your thyroid is like the heart that tells stuff to do stuff, it affects everything.”
De’lish openly speaks out when she is struggling, to raise awareness for those that are struggling too. She advocates for herself and others and stresses the importance of what it means to take care of yourself. It’s important to her to show others that lots of people do live with a silent illness and to not judge them, that it’s a struggle but it's a struggle you can hopefully do, and get through it.
“I definitely want to stay with the psychiatry and do therapy, and Meg’delish has kind of done what comes at her, I feel like whatever happens with Meg’delish happens and it’s worked really really well for me so far.”
Her ten year plan is to get through school and start a private practice. Somehow she would love to incorporate all of her passions together. We have no doubt she will find a way to combine Meg De’lish, psychology and photography all in one while also supporting worthy causes! In the next 5-10 years she plans to visit warm coastal areas in the country to see what resonates with her. She has dreams of Meg D’lish at 70, cruising on a bike along the beach (with a basket of course) rocking the pinup, blasting ACDC from backpack radio and talking to people as she rides by them. Sounds like a pretty good life to us! With her autoimmune disease the colder clima