Hilda, one of the few plus-size pin-ups of the 1950s is the creation of illustrator Duane Bryers. From 1957 to 1985, Bryers generated over two hundred gorgeous paintings of this voluptuous ginger beauty for a series of calendars released by printing company, Brown & Bigelow.
Atypical for the era and ahead of her time, Hilda is a full-figured, plump, and curvaceous young woman often depicted in humorous scenes.
What drew me to this quirky redhead was the fact that in all of Bryers’ illustrations, Hilda’s personality shone through. If I were to construct a narrative based on these paintings, I could easily describe Hilda as someone who loves to read, someone who is adventurous, someone who is carefree, and ultimately someone who is happy and content with life’s simple pleasures.
Hilda is beautiful.
Not “beautiful for a larger woman.” Not “beautiful despite her size.” Just simply beautiful. Full stop.
This is especially meaningful for me as a person who could never be described as skinny. The fact that I see beauty in every image of Hilda reminds me to see the beauty in myself. I, too, am beautiful without exceptions or qualifiers.
Hilda, to me, is more than just a pretty face. She is an inspiration.
Below are some of my favorite Hilda paintings.
All Hilda images are property of Brown & Bigelow.
If you also love Hilda or would love to know more about the illustrator, Duane Bryers, check out this interview conducted by Les Toil!