Saturday, August 3, 2013

Hey, everybody . . . it's HILDA!

Meet Hilda, the creation of illustrator Duane Bryers and pin-up art’s best kept secret. Voluptuous in all the right places, a little clumsy but not at all shy about her figure, Hilda was one of the only atypical plus-sized pin-up queens to grace the pages of American calendars from the 1950s up until the early 1980s, and achieved moderate notoriety in the 1960s.

"She’s a creation out of my head. I had various models over the years, but some of my best Hilda paintings I’ve ever done were done without a model,” veteran artist Duane told the online pin-up gallery ToilDespite being one of history’s longest running calendar queens alongside the likes of Marilyn Monroe, even the most dedicated vintage enthusiasts probably won’t have come across Hilda before.

(Blogger's note. Every once in a while I find a link on Facebook that I actually like. Unfortunately, I understand why Hilda fell out of favour. She's simply too fat. It's ironic, because the average woman is now a Size 14 - 16, and in the 1950s, when she first appeared as an exuberant, full-bodied calendar pinup, the average size was an 8 - 10 (and sizes were much smaller then). Now that "thin is in" and standards of beauty are much more stringent, Hilda somehow just looks too fat. Could our society be any sicker or more twisted?)

Anyway, here are a few choice calendar-girl poses. What I notice is her exuberance, her joy in being alive, and her utter lack of self-consciousness. 

Hilda loves the great outdoors and enthusiastically partakes of its many pleasures. These are just two of her more Rockwellian poses. She wears a bikini well (and I love that little dog!) Somehow these pictures manage to be both wholesome and sexual - though that makes me wonder why those two things are seen as poles apart. Does sexual mean unwholesome? And what does unwholesome mean? Tainted and dirty, I guess. We still want our women to be virgins, or at least not interested in sex. I think Hilda would be interested.

The livin' is easy.

Some of these have a luminous, almost Maxfield Parrish-like quality, not to mention rosy red-headed skin tones. 

Was she the object of male fantasy, do you think? Duane Bryers obviously knew and enjoyed the voluptuous contours of the zaftig woman and celebrated her with whimsy and even respect.

Why can't we?


  1. Fabulous pictures!!! I love her already! And I will share her freely. Hope she doesn't mind. ;)

  2. I'm sure she'd love it! I think of her as Christina Hendricks' wacky little sister.