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On the Table: 1921

Circa 1921, the mysterious Miss Orloff again. For this second of three portraits in the Bain archive, she's thrown on some actual clothes. If not dressed to the nines, she's at least up to the twos. George Grantham Bain Collection. View full size.

Circa 1921, the mysterious Miss Orloff again. For this second of three portraits in the Bain archive, she's thrown on some actual clothes. If not dressed to the nines, she's at least up to the twos. George Grantham Bain Collection. View full size.


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At the turning point, body-wise

I understand that bodies of this voluptuous kind were True Beauty in the 19th and early 20th centuries. I've also read that in the 1920s the approved sexy look quickly shifted to skinny. The date says 1921. Maybe some of us are surprised that she's photographed in an alluring pose simply because we're living long after that shift was completed, while the photographer had grown up and had his idea of beauty formed before it happened.


This young lady is of tiny stature. She's also probably not more than 5'2" at the most. Whenever I'm shopping in antique stores and see dresses of the era, I'm always struck by how weeny the waists are. If we were seeing this person today, she'd be shopping in the petite sizes, probably a 2 or 4 at the most.

Ulterior Motivation

My cynical guess is that this publicity photo shoot was a ruse to get into her apartment (or get her into his), take pictures of her in skimpy clothes, and see what else might develop as a result of these exposures.

[Photos in the Bain archive, taken by photographers of the Bain News Service for sale to newspapers, were donated by the company's founder to the Library of Congress. There are hundreds of shots like this in the collection. - Dave]

Different strokes for different folks.

I also can't believe someone here just called her "fat". She's not fat, this is what "healthy" and "fit" looks like.

The only faults I see are the silly hat she'd look much better without and again with those awful sock things! [Those are stockings. - Dave]

I'm certainly not the photography expert the host is, but the skin/eye shadows might have other explanations than problems with her complexion. I had some passport photos taken by our photographer at work once. Even though I was clean shaven and well rested, his high contrast B/W photos made me look like one of those old FBI wanted pictures from the 30s with shadows under my eyes and stubble. He made me look like John Dillinger and I had to go down to Kinkos for another set of fuzzy color photos instead.

Hardly fat

How could anyone call this girl "fat"? She has a flat stomach for heaven's sake! She is not, I grant you, anorexic, but she is well-formed with full youthful breasts.

She's no great raving beauty, but she's kinda cute.

Size and Whispers

Funny how none of these beauty police chimed in on Miss Orloff's first photo ... it's ironic that a see-through sheet will mask so many "flaws."

No, this is not the most flattering of the two photos we've seen so far, and that hat isn't doing much for her. Surely you all have some pictures that you look better in than others? And she didn't have the luxury of deleting an unflattering shot seconds after it was taken, as we do today.

Also, I have a hard time seeing her as fat by modern standards -- she'd probably be a size 6 or so, which is a fairly slim size. If you think she is fat, you probably live in L.A., or read entirely too much People magazine.

Me Likey

As said before, she is a fine example of the times; youthful skin, perky smile and lovely figure. Nothing plastic here. I'd consider myself fortunate if she gave me a smile.

His Vote

I'd guess that Rubens would have approved!

She's got IT

Fina certainly has that undefinable IT quality. But I wonder what these pictures were for? If they were meant for publicity, or for a portfolio, why is the room so messy, and why no makeup? Or was all of that going to be corrected with the airbrush?

[I don't think there was much airbrushing going on in the 1920s. Especially at the Bain News Service. - Dave]


Evidently to some it doesn't matter what's on the mantel as long as there's a fire in the fireplace.

View It With The Eyes of The Era

I have made stupid comments about looks here before, but then I stopped and realized, you need to look with the eyes of the era, not your own, modern eyes. If you look at this lady, as defined and ordered by the times, she is quite lovely. And for some of us, myself included, she is lovely, now, too.

You know, even a female warthog is lovely, to a male warthog.

And, if she's still not your cup of tea, snide comments are not needed. Your mama wouldn't like it if you were called ugly, now, would she?

Sorry. Flameproof underwear going on, now.

Butter Face. Sorry, Fina.

Truth is my defense. Of course it's a good thing she can't see me.

A Matter of Taste

If I were a guy and found her waiting for me like that, I'd run for my life. She thinks she's something - but she ain't. Other than available, of course.

The Story of O

I will admit this photo is not all that attractive. But the earlier photo her facial flaws do not show. Who knows what the real story was. We will have to wait until the third of the series.

Hose Me Down

Ms. Orloff is sexy to the nth degree. I am attracted to real, robustly curved women. Vaccination scars and uneven facial features and all other flaws aside, she has enough feline sensuality for me!

An Old Groaner...

...Mable, Mable, get off the table,
The quarter's for the beer!


This girl is homely to the nth degree. By today's standards she's fat, yet she has that heroin brown circling of the eyes. Her teeth are slightly asplay and her face is coarse. She's even got acne I think. Amazing how standards have risen, or is this a case of being a "glamour girl" simply on the merits of exhibitionism?


Note the vaccination scars on her arm that have disappeared from the youth of today.

Fina with an F?

Doesn't Miss Orloff seem to have an "F" on her bathing suit (I guess that is a bathing suit?) If so, then maybe she really is Fina Orloff, the girl who performed in The Magic Melody (a Sigmund Romberg show by the way). This sort of looks as though it was shot in her room. It's funny how doilies on furniture, which seemed like an "old lady" type of decorating when I was a kid, was the style picked by a young broadway hopeful. Someday the "edgy" styles of today will seem hopelessly old-fashioned to the young - the sort of thing those old ladies covered with tattoos have in their homes!

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