Before the advent of girly magazines like Playboy, Hustler, and Penthouse, images of the iconic “pinup girl” were a source of sexual entertainment for men. Whether it was photography or illustration, images of sexy women were literally pinned the walls of filling stations, barber shops, and gentlemen’s clubs.
Envision the style of the 1950’s pin-up bombshell and more than likely Bettie Paige and Marilyn Monroe come to mind, and for good reason too. These women, and many more, were stunning examples of the era’s sex appeal—zaftig hourglass figures mixed with voluptuous curves, large breasts, and jiggling hips. Simply showing the tiniest hint of cleavage or thigh was enough to throw men into a fit of arousal.
But one extraordinary lady brought a new zest for life to the scene. Everyone, meet Hilda! Illustrated between 1957 and 1970, Hilda was the creation of artist Duane Bryers (1911-2012). Unlike the starlets of the time, Hilda was a realistic portrayal of the average american woman—proportions and all. To craft Hilda, Bryers sometimes got plus-size models, but more often than not, he made her up. So, instead of drawing the classically thin beauty with a cinched waistline, he let Hilda be herself, complete with deliciously thick thighs, bouncing booty, and cankles. But what made Hilda really special, was her confidence and playful persona. Even now, Hilda is an iconic representation of what is truly sexy—comfort in your own skin.
Instead of hiding beneath the typical 1950’s layered fashions and full swing skirts, Hilda was dressed in body hugging bathing suits. With the help of Bryers distinctive artistry, Hilda was alive as she flaunted her full figure without any shame. During a time when women were forced wear undergarments worse than the Spanx of today, Hilda was happy to let it all hang out and enjoy simple pleasures of life—like swinging on a tire over a river, playing guitar by the lake, repelling from a mountain side, and reading books in the bathtub. Day in and day out, it appears that Hilda had a full life complete with hot pursuits and fun adventures. Bryers created a positive representation of the big girl, as well as showing that plus-size women have the every right to be sexy, beautiful, and mostly, worthy of being pinned up on a wall.
There is a reason why we get excited when we see someone like Hilda. She’s the kind of woman that goes beyond the limits of her waistline. She not afraid to explore sex, passion, and other worldly pleasures. She exudes sex appeal and refuses to cover it all up. Whether you believe she is fat or not, given the subjectivity of that term, the point remains that Hilda is real—not only in the eyes of the artist that created her, but in the eyes of the thousands of men that think, “damn, I wish I had a girl like that!”