Pamela Anderson and the Archetype of the Blonde Bombshell
Ahead of the premiere of Hulu’s 'Pam + Tommy,' we look back on Pamela Anderson's signature style in the 1990s and early aughts
Voluminous blonde tresses, plump lined lips, uber-thin brows, and hyper-defined curves, Pamela Anderson’s singular image permeated the 1990s zeitgeist. Filmed running slow-motion through the beach in her iconic red one-piece with the wind in her hair, the Baywatch babe was immediately hailed as a modernized sex symbol of the decade.
Having gotten her start as a Playboy Playmate, (she holds the record for gracing the highest number of Playboy covers), Anderson’s now-signature look followed in the footsteps of another blonde bombshell: Marilyn Monroe.
Unabashed glam juxtaposed with a rough and rugged aura, extreme cutouts, body hugging latex, corsets, and huge hats, Anderson’s fashion impact knows no bounds. In fact, it could be argued that she paved the way for the curvy Kardashian aesthetic that the family brought to TV screens through their hit reality show, Keeping Up with the Kardashians. Both Kim Kardashian and Kylie Jenner have emulated the Barb Wire actress’ signature style on several occasions, and Kardashian and Kendall Jenner even dressed up as the icon for Halloween.
As society has begun to reexamine the often harsh and unfair treatment of female public figures throughout the ’90s and ’00s, women from Monica Lewinsky to Britney Spears and Janet Jackson have had their malignment from the misogynistic media landscape of the time reevaluated. By today’s standards, sex tapes like those of Paris Hilton’s and Kim Kardashian’s have been reconsidered as revenge porn. Now, Pam & Tommy show-runners hope to provide a fresh, more nuanced perspective to the first celebrity sex tape to sweep the nation at such an unprecedented level of infamy.
Streaming on February 2 exclusively on Hulu, the forthcoming limited series Pam & Tommy is set amid the early days of the internet age, chronicling the unhinged epic odyssey of the theft and subsequent release of Anderson’s and then-husband Mötley Crüe drummer Tommy Lee’s sex tape.
After having met and married in the span of four days, Lee and Anderson tied the knot in Cancun, Mexico in 1995. The celebrity whirlwind romance that saturated headlines, was met with a maelstrom of media attention after contractor-gone-rogue Rand Gaultier (Seth Rogen) sought revenge by stealing the couple’s safe from their Malibu home after Lee previously fired him and allegedly threatened Gaultier with a firearm. After discovering the private recording within the stolen safe, Gaultier colluded with porn-producer Milton “Uncle Miltie” Ingley to disseminate pirated VHS copies through the World Wide Web.
After the tape’s release Lee and Anderson were met with a glaring chasm of incongruent media encounters. Bearing the brunt of the shame and blame of it all, the Canadian Baywatch actress and model was met with contempt, humiliation, and condemnation while Lee, by most regards, was considered the man.
After her vicious victimization by the media, Anderson and Lee divorced after three years of marriage, with Lee serving six months in jail for spousal battery after assaulting Anderson with their child in her arms.
With the upcoming series hoping to shed a light on this unfair dynamic, one has to consider what it means that the project has been conducted without Anderson’s approval or consent. Close friend Courtney Love has come out against the series, having described the release of the tape as “schadenfreude” (joy stemmed from another’s humiliation or troubles). Potentially a second invasion of privacy or a chance for her own public reckoning, we’ll just have to wait and see.
Now a mother of two, and a staunch voice against animal abuse and climate change, Anderson’s activism has become her second act. Despite all that stood in her way, maybe now she’ll get the mea culpa she deserves.
Here, GRAZIA‘s style file on Anderson at the height of her 1990s fame charts the star’s bourgeoning ascent, from Playboy Playmate to Baywatch superstar.