Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter: the wartime poster girl who became a feminist pin-up

Beyoncé's picture of the ultimate American symbol of female empowerment quickly became the most popular photo on her Instagram account to date, amassing more than a million "likes"

With her red headscarf, brown curl and determined expression, Rosie the Riveter is the ultimate American symbol of female empowerment. Now Beyoncé has posted a picture to Instagram of herself dressed up as the Second World War poster girl. It quickly became the most popular photo on her account to date, amassing more than a million "likes".

Rosie emerged in the Forties to cheer on women who replaced male workers who had gone to war, and has captivated us ever since.

The term "Rosie the Riveter" first appeared in a 1942 song about an energetic female assembly worker, and any number of Roses, Rosies and Rosalinds who worked at aircraft manufacturers at the time have been attributed as the inspiration for the writers.

The famous picture, however, is said to be of Geraldine Doyle, who was working as a metal presser in Ann Arbor when a photographer visited and snapped some of the women. The image made its way to the graphic artist J Howard Miller, who reimagined it as a poster for Westinghouse Electric Company. Contrary to popular opinion, the image was not commissioned by the American government, and it was never intended for public view. It was only ever displayed on the walls of Westinghouse's Midwest plants in 1943 to boost morale.

Doyle discovered that she had appeared in the posters only in the Eighties, when they started to be used in connection with women's equality in the workplace. They subsequently became associated with feminism, and the image was incorrectly referred to as Rosie the Riveter. It has stuck ever since.

The original poster. Rosie was a Michigan factory worker The original poster. Rosie was a Michigan factory worker
"It's become such an important image," says Deborah Coughlin, a former editor of the Feminist Times. "It shows a woman who is powerful, strong and working in a man's world. I'm not surprised that Beyoncé wants to embody all the aspects of that image because that's what she's trying to get across in her music and her career."

Bey joins a number of other women who have dressed up as Rosie in recent years. Pink, Parks and Recreation's Leslie Knope (Amy Poehler), and Marge Simpson have all donned the denim shirt and raised their arm in solidarity with female struggle.

Read more: Beyonce shares Fifty Shades of Grey trailer teaser
MTV VMAs nominations: Beyonce and Eminem lead shortlist
Beyoncé and Jay Z reveal intimate wedding footage
Beyoncé, Blue Ivy and Change.org: What's hair got to do with it?

Today, you can buy Rosie costumes in fancy-dress shops. Escapade in London's Camden does a nice line in Rosie outfits complete with denim shirt, wig, and knotted headscarf (bulging bicep not included). The store's manager, Luke Potter, says: "It's one of the more popular costumes. People really like Blitz parties and so a lot of women go as Rosie."

Emily Reynolds, who runs the feminist blog Diet of Broken Biscuits, was so taken with Rosie that she recently had her tattooed alongside the word "feminist" on her thigh.

Emily Reynolds' tattoo. 'I feel like it really communicates something basic about feminism,' said the feminist blogger Emily Reynolds' tattoo. 'I feel like it really communicates something basic about feminism,' said the feminist blogger
"I thought that she was a beautiful way to represent my feminist beliefs," says Reynolds. "I love the 'power stance' she's doing; I feel like it really communicates something basic about feminism, even to someone who might not know who Rosie is. For me, feminism is about fighting. I know a little bit about her but it's less the specifics and more what she symbolises."

Coughlin agrees it's a shame that Rosie's story isn't better known, despite her image being widely associated with female strength. "It's great we have something iconic, but how iconic is it really? I didn't get taught about women like Rosie at school or university. But there aren't many female heroes so I suppose we're holding on to this one. Maybe Beyoncé will bring the image to a new generation. And maybe this time the next generation will know more about her than we do."

News
John Travolta is a qualified airline captain and employed the pilot with his company, Alto
people'That was the lowest I’d ever felt'
Life and Style
healthIt isn’t greasy. It doesn’t smell. And moreover, it costs nothing
News
i100

Other places that have held independence referendums
Sport
Jonas Gutierrez (r) competes with Yaya Toure (l)
football

Newcastle winger reveals he has testicular cancer - and is losing his trademark long hair as a result

PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
ebooksA superb mix of recipes serving up the freshest of local produce in a delicious range of styles
Life and Style
ebooksFrom the lifespan of a slug to the distance to the Sun: answers to 500 questions from readers
Arts and Entertainment
Blossoming love: Colin Firth as Stanley and Emma Stone as Sophie, in 'Magic in the Moonlight'
film

Actors star in Woody Allen's 'Magic in the Moonlight'

News
peopleThe Times of India said actress should treat it as a 'compliment'
Arts and Entertainment
Maxine Peake plays Hamlet at Manchester's Royal Exchange
theatreReview: Maxine Peake brings emotional ferocity to Shakespeare's most starring part
News
news

Watch this commuter wage a one-man war against the Circle Line
News
We are phenomenally good at recognising faces; the study showed that humans have been selected to be unique and easily recognisable
science

Human faces unique 'because we don't recognise each other by smell'

Property
Home body: Badger stays safe indoors
lifeShould we feel guilty about keeping cats inside?
News
A male driver reverses his Vauxhall Astra from a tow truck
news

Man's attempt to avoid being impounded heavily criticised

Arts and Entertainment
US pop diva Jennifer Lopez sang “Happy Birthday” to Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow, president of Turkmenistan
musicCorporate gigs become key source of musicians' income
Arts and Entertainment
While many films were released, few managed to match the success of James Bond blockbuster 'Skyfall'
filmsDaniel Craig believed to be donning skis as 007 for first time
Student
The Guildhall School of Music and Drama is to offer a BA degree in Performance and Creative Enterprise
student

Arts and Entertainment
Pulp-fiction lover: Jarvis Cocker
booksJarvis Cocker on Richard Brautigan
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Cover Supervisor Preston

    £50 - £65 per day: Randstad Education Preston: Cover Supervisor Jobs in Presto...

    Modern Foreign Languages Teacher

    Competitive Salary: Randstad Education Group: We URGENTLY require qualified an...

    IT Portfolio Analyst - Prince2

    £45000 - £50000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client, a glob...

    Project Co-ordinator - Birmingham - Permanant

    £20000 - £25000 Per Annum Plus excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions...

    Day In a Page

    Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

    A shot in the dark

    Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
    His life, the universe and everything

    His life, the universe and everything

    New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
    Reach for the skies

    Reach for the skies

    From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
    These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

    12 best hotel spas in the UK

    Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
    These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

    Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

    Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
    Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

    Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

    His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
    'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

    'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

    Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
    Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

    Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

    The Imitation Game, film review
    England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

    England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

    Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
    Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

    Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

    Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
    ‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

    ‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

    Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week