Earlier this year I wrote an entry (here) about a magazine from Malaysia called Malaysian Panorama which had pictures of beautiful women on its cover, but the content of the magazine usually had nothing to do with the beautiful women on its covers.
A reader at the time commented that this was also the case in the twentieth century in Burma, and we decided that it was probably just that the people producing the magazines were men, and that they liked pictures of beautiful women, so they put such pictures on the covers of their magazines.
Recently I was looking at a monthly magazine from Burma, The Guardian, and found that in the 1950s this was definitely the case. These pictures were taken by a photographer and artist named M. Tin Aye.
Inside the magazine there is usually an explanation of what the cover picture is meant to show. And they are often simple statements like the following: “A Burmese belle photographed against a Burmese background,” “Young Burmese ladies, a blend in fashion of East and West,” or “Another study in Burmese feminine beauty.”
All of this would make sense if The Guardian was a fashion magazine, but instead it covered a wide variety of issues of interest to contemporary readers.
So yes, it looks like the men who produced The Guardian simply liked pictures of beautiful women.
I have aunts who would have been around the same age as the people in these pictures at that time, and to this day they still call young women “gals” as that was the term they used when they were young. So I’ve decided to call these “Burmese belles” the “Guardian gals,” as they are the young women who appeared on the cover of The Guardian in 1950s Burma.
Here are some more images: