Everyone who has any stigmatized image of the 1940s-50s probably knows what a pin-up model is. Slender, proportionate women in playful or scandalous positions and stylish (although sparse) outfits would pose for a picture which would be later changed into a painted artist’s rendition that would often be more colorful and eye-catching. This all sounds good and to-be-expected for the era. But this post isn’t about the models we expected. This post is focused on a brave woman named Hilda, who was the only plus-size pin-up model of that time.
I found the article for the first time through Facebook links, and my introduction to Hilda was harmless at first. She was featured in her first photo as a nude model whose only coverings were woven flowers, with a pursed expression and an outdoorsy theme.
Co-author’s notes; Hilda is an intreaguing figure among women in the modelling industry, especially in the 40’s and 50’s. She can within reason be seen as among the first plus sized models, though models of the era were bordering on the cusp of what we would today suggest at plus sized as well. Beauty standards of the era were still based upon a less realistic ideal , with hourglass body shape being a standard to some extent, atleast the hour glass was allowed to have some volume. This is not to say that modern campaigns focused on “real women” aren’t having an effect, but rather that it would seem that other body types are also being lauded as beautiful and socially and culturally desirable.
Hilda can unfortunately be considered to be part of the body positivity movement which has valid points in its acknowledgement of diversity of body types and acceptable forms of beauty, has in the more extreme aspects of that movement can encourage unhealthy and concerning effects. The issue of public health and wellness is essential to understanding the overall impact of shifting ideologies especially in the beauty world.
While not a fan of body augmentation personally, I still conceed that if someone is happier with themselves after having gotten breast or buttox augmentation as is the current trend, it can have a private and personal health result. Improved self image and perception can be immensely valuable in ones level of confidence and perceotion of their social standing and can have positive impact on their overall well-being. But the surge of these operations, and further manipulation of the human form poses a social and public health challenge, when people are having ribs removed, and having themselves turned in literal “human barbie dolls” this is the extreme limit of these once helpful procedures.
I would be concerned that while Hilda is a revolutionary figure (pun intended) for her era in the industry she was involved in, to hyper idealize any exaggerated figure can glamorize the immaciated or over indulged sets concerning prescidents and sets potentially unhealthy and unmaintainable expectations. These expectations can stem from either extreme of female physical representation. This is where I humbly have to take the stance of simply not being wise enough or interested enough in being right in a matter that I am too young to have experienced, how does this portrayal of women with the era of it’s publishing, and modern perspective leave you feeling on the matter, dear readers?
Please leave your respectful and insightful comments below, and as always, stay curious.