The Ideal Woman

Playboy Contest

Playboy June 1979
Fig. 1. Playboy and United Artists chose Robbin Young as the winner of this 1979 contest.
Source: Be a James Bond Girl Contest. Advertisement. Playboy Jun. 1979. Print.

It’s not just for their good looks that Bond girls have been compared to Playboy Playmates (Playboy magazine itself was fond of this parallel). “Like the Playmate, the Bond girl made no demands for security and marriage… reminiscent of the Single Girl envisioned by Helen Gurley Brown” (Fraterrigo 155)*. Bond girls are, as per Fleming’s preferences, independent, sexually unencumbered and available, doting but not demanding, having a keen intuition for when to engage and when to respect Bond’s (and Fleming’s) need for solitude. Vivienne Michel is perhaps our best view into Fleming’s imagined psychology for the Bond Girl.

*In this sense, the Bond girl could be read as an icon of early 60s feminism – like Bond, the Gurley Brown Single Girl was not bound to marriage if she wanted to get the most out of life. The Single Girl, and the Bond girl by extension, set a precedent for the modern career woman archetype (ibid).

Bond girls usually have a past relationship trauma that renders them vulnerable and allows James Bond to act as a strong, protective figure towards them (in his words, give them the TLC treatment) and solve their problems; to that end they are often depicted as childlike.

Bond characteristically attempts to rationalize the behavior of those he encounters by inferring a general psychological history – usually based on stereotypes, though not always racial. This is doubly so for women; Bond can easily pick out what Fleming terms a “bird with a wing down” (The Spy Who Loved Me 57; On His Majesty’s Secret Service 34).

◀ Girls, Part 2: Ian Fleming gets married // Sex: Intro ▶