Monday, August 8, 2016

Hilda, Part two. . .

Hilda is something/someone I come back to again and again. I saw her a couple of years ago in one of those sappy internet posts about "America's Forgotten Plus-Size Pin-up Girl!", or words to that effect. I immediately loved the drawings, which were originally calendar art by Duane Bryers. I see her as a sort of antidote to the Playboy bunny/playmate of the '50s and '60s. No sophisticate, she's more of a country girl, usually shown in bucolic settings with farm animals, climbing mountains, straddling fences, bailing out boats, getting herself soaking wet. . . and though her "bikini" sometimes consists of nothing more than a mere string of flowers, she seems at home in her body in a way few women actually are.

People rhapsodize about her abundance and her curviness, her naturalness and goofy sense of fun, and the way she cares about small animals, birds' nests discovered while she's trying to paint the house, kittens stuck up on telephone poles, etc. She's always falling out of boats and trying to walk along fences and stubbing her toe. Childlike, she seems to have no fear. I'm not sure where the cartoonist got his inspiration, whether she was based on a real person, a composite, or just a wished-for, funny, joyous, life-loving gal (yes, Hilda is definitely a "gal") whose sexuality is so self-evident that it doesn't even need to be spelled out. 

It's kind of encouraging, and at the same time kind of depressing to see the internet reaction to Hilda, who became an overnight sensation again after decades of dormancy. See, gals, it's OK to be full-figured! Hilda enjoys herself hugely no matter what she is doing, so maybe WE can, too, so long as we bring our calorie-counter to the banquet and spend five hours at the gym the next day. Hilda is who we might be if we weren't so fucked up. 

But even if we are, we can still take pleasure in her delightful silliness, the way she spills out of her scanty clothing, and her ecstatic delight in nature and sensual pleasure. She's fun, she knows how to have a good time, and (best of all) she is the Zen-master of a totally-lost art: how to relax. Hilda's someone you'd like to know, if she existed. Some days, like today, like right now, I very much wish she did.

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