Becoming accidentally famous must be an unpleasantly surreal experience. Rebecca Black is the most cited example of the phenomenon these days (as though she was just dancing down the street one day and accidentally passed through a terrible music video) but she's far from the most mind blowing example.
For instance, imagine driving through the streets of, say, Beijing, and suddenly seeing your face on a billboard for instant noodles. Imagine you then find out your face is the Chinese equivalent of the Gerber's Baby, and has been for decades, and you never had a clue. This apparently happens all the time.
We Can Do It! With Your Face!!!
You've almost certainly seen the famous World War II propaganda icon "Rosie the Riveter."
What started as a simple motivational poster for the millions of women working in factories while their husbands were away fighting became one of the most iconic symbols of feminism and equality in the workplace. It's one of the most well known American cultural images of all time, up there with the raising of the flag over Iwo Jima and the drawing of Uncle Sam.
In 1984, while flipping through a copy of Modern Maturity, 59-year-old Geraldine Doyle spotted an article about the inspiration behind the Rosie the Riveter character: a photo of a 17-year-old girl working in a factory in 1942. Her name? Geraldine Doyle.
"Geraldine the Metal Presser," doesn't roll off the tongue quite as well.
Doyle, incredibly, had no idea of her connection to Rosie the Riveter. In fact, she didn't even know about the original inspirational photo, which given her posture, lends an unsettling peeping-Tom vibe to the whole thing. At the time, she'd just graduated high school and, like many other women, had taken a job in a factory in order to support the war effort. American Broach & Machine Co. had her on a metal press in no time at all, probably after a vigorous and thorough safety-training program that only that decade could deliver.
"Wearing dresses around whirring, metal crushing machinery? Why, that's almost as dangerous as letting women wear pants!" - The 1940s