The first of the now-famous collegiate “Girls of..” series… published in September of 1977.
What happened in September of 1977? Fonzie jumped the shark, Voyager 1 was launched, the US Food Stamp program began, Ted Turner and Courageous won the America’s Cup, and Ludacris was born.
The high-flying Hawkeyes shown above are Lisa Van Slyke (left) and Laura Dunscombe (right). Besides a mutual interest in cheerleading, the two friends like dancing, acting, water-skiing and athletic men.
Grace Packard (above) is a zoology student who fights to save whales, if not wolverines, at Michigan. “I hate plastic,” she says. “When future archaeologists uncover our culture, they’ll think Ronald McDonald was a god.”
Over the years, PB has presented pictorials such as The Girls of the New South, The Girls of Washington, The Girls of New York. It’s all part of our never-ending search for Truth, Beauty and The American Way. It’s a tough job, but we don’t complain. For the most part, neither do our readers. (Never mind the few civic-minded chaps who occasionally feel that we’ve slighted their cities. Would you believe The Girls of Oshkosh?) So, we were totally unprepared for the reaction Photographer David Chan encountered when he toured the Midwest to recruit Girls of the Big Ten.
Betsy Beutler is the Boilermaker on the bike. A lab assistant in Purdue’s entomology department, she likes jogging, weight lifting and tennis.
Northwestern’s Melissa Ann Rudel and Iowa’s Kathryn Sue Benson are equestriennes par excellence. Melissa has worked as an exercise girl for thoroughbreds raced at Belmont. Kathryn is a jumper and wants to join the U.S. Equestrian Team. These cowgirls don’t get the blues.
A group of women’s libbers picketed his motel in West Lafayette, Indiana, bearing signs that read: RAISE OUR SALARIES, NOT OUR SKIRTS. BITE THE HAND THAT FEELS US. CHAN, CHAN, IS A DIRTY OLD MAN. HE AND HIS PICTURES BELONG IN A CAN. (We’ve known David for the 12 years he’s been taking pictures for us and we can attest that his bathing habits are immaculate. So is his eye for beauty.) The protestors claimed that they represented the women of Indiana and that if Chan did not leave town immediately, they would return in force the next day. (One would almost assume that we’d sent him there to rape, pillage, plunder and burn.) The next day, Chan met 200 women. Two were protestors, the rest were candidates for Girls of the Big Ten.
Indiana’s Ariele Shirley has an eye for detail and a head for figures. Her hobbies include photography and sewing. She plans a career in accounting and she likes men who are “intelligent and assertive.”
Caroline Csuri is a student at Ohio State University. She spends most of her time singing, writing, playing the guitar and/or speaking her mind. A sample: “I like being outdoors, animals, pizza, old movies, performing and staying up late. I dislike inflexible people, vegetables, religious fanatics and smoke.”
The pattern was repeated on several campuses. Self-appointed spokespersons whote letters to school papers, urging “Keep your skirts on, girls.” A sample of the rhetoric: “Their approach is … subtle, but no less degrading and insulting. The planned Big Ten Special with its ironic juxtaposition of cheesecake photos against a university background is a coy denial of women’s intellectuality.” (The writer obviously can caught in the old trap of the Cartesian moind-body duality; i.e., a women is one or the other, but never both. It’s nothing that Philosophy 201 wouldn’t cure.) Another concerned soul said, “Photographing women for the titillation of men helps perpetuate cultural myths and imposes an undesirable stereotype for women to live up to.” The girls who turned out for the interviews with Chan (and they turned out in droves) did not fit any one stereotype. They were musicians, gymnasts, equestriennes, law and premed students, would-be television broadcasters and even a producer of an X-rated movie. And, as you can see for yourself, they are far from undesirable.
To find out what kind of girl wanted to pose, many of the school newspapers sent women reporters to cover the story. Some of these ladies lost their objectivity and became models themselves. Iowan Mary Schnack looked on when classmate Sue Johnson interviewed with Chan and, later, when she shot with photographer Nicholas DeSciose. Johnson explained why she was doing it: “It’s a goal you set for yourself and accomplish. Just to say that I was in the magazine would be enough for me.”
Schnack’s article began with the following paragraph: “It’s an ego trip. It’s publicity. It’s answering a dare . . . It’s posing for a famous photographer.” The reporter was impressed by what she saw; we responded in kind. Schnack became a model (per picture is presented here). She is as engaging as her prose.
Yet another Hoosier: Pamela Jean Bryant is majoring in telecommunications and film production at Indiana University. She’ll be out in time to cover the 1980 Olympics – that is, if she’s not participating. (Her favorite sport happens to be gymnastics.)
Karla Potts can sometimes be found on the campus of the University of Iowa. More often, she’s out backpacking in the wild green yonder. “I’m really the outdoors type. Sleeping in a warm sleeping bag on a cold night is an absolute turn-on.” Her activities include rafting, scuba diving and dancing till five a.m.
Chan did note one trend among the ladies he interviewed and later photographed. Most were upperclasspersons. Freshmen who had just left home evidently had a problem in facing both our camera and their parents. Older girls were free to act on their own. For many, posing was a declaration of independence. Said one girl: “My parents would be outraged, but it’s my life and my decision. I can hear my mother now. ‘You’ll never see your grandmother’s silver.'” So why do it? “It’s something to show my own grandchildren. ‘Look, kids, see what your granny did.'”
We rest our case.