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August 21, 2013 6:54 AM   Subscribe

America’s Forgotten Pin-Up Girl: "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." [NSFW]

Hilda, rediscovered after the death of her creator Duane Bryers, makes us very happy.

[Gallery 1]
[Gallery 2]
[Gallery 3]
posted by eunoia (101 comments total) 89 users marked this as a favorite

 
I like the one with Hilda in the little sailboat with her seasick puppy.
posted by notyou at 7:06 AM on August 21, 2013 [2 favorites]


Wow, this is great.
posted by odinsdream at 7:07 AM on August 21, 2013


I appreciate that she signals her turns.
posted by louche mustachio at 7:07 AM on August 21, 2013 [17 favorites]


I love that Hilda has apparently only two expressions: surprise and bewilderment. And how is it that she manages to keep those strings of roses in place while she's prancing around?
posted by tafetta, darling! at 7:10 AM on August 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


These are glorious. I love how many of them express a genuinely warm sense of humor as well as being brilliantly sexy.
posted by fight or flight at 7:11 AM on August 21, 2013 [3 favorites]


The "one weird tip" ads along the side of the third link seem a bit… amusingly off the mark?
posted by DoctorFedora at 7:11 AM on August 21, 2013


And how is it that she manages to keep those strings of roses in place while she's prancing around?


WITHCHCRAFT
posted by louche mustachio at 7:14 AM on August 21, 2013


These are great! Such joyous expressions in so many of them, too! I like pinup art that's not just "oooh, sultry look..." which gets kind of monotonous.
I'll be in my bunk.
posted by rmd1023 at 7:18 AM on August 21, 2013


what about the pin up men??
posted by halekon at 7:33 AM on August 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


I don't know why Hilda's bikini bottom says "FLOUR" on it, but I want one.

A lot of these remind me of Calvin and Hobbes, a little - it's the combination of painterly outdoor scenery and a goofy sense of adventure. Sexy, sexy Calvin and Hobbes.
posted by Metroid Baby at 7:34 AM on August 21, 2013 [3 favorites]


She made it herself out of a flour sack.

Voluptuous, adventurous, AND industrious!
posted by Curious Artificer at 7:38 AM on August 21, 2013 [20 favorites]


Despite 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.

Hmph, I've seen them before! Don't presume to know how much time I waste on ephemera blogs, lady.

I've always really liked these, because Hilda just seems like a fun person to be around. Like you'd want to be her friend. Most pin-ups don't have that level of personality.
posted by showbiz_liz at 7:38 AM on August 21, 2013 [22 favorites]


I don't know why Hilda's bikini bottom says "FLOUR" on it, but I want one.

So do I.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:45 AM on August 21, 2013 [2 favorites]


showbiz_liz: "Despite 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."

My inner fourteen-year-old sees what you did there.
posted by chavenet at 7:45 AM on August 21, 2013 [9 favorites]


My wife showed me these last week. Her first statement was "do these remind you of anyone"? (her)

She loves them as do I.
posted by freecellwizard at 7:46 AM on August 21, 2013 [2 favorites]


Great find! Well, I've got my halloween costume all set now (assuming warmer weather). I love all her puppy friends, too.
posted by mochapickle at 7:47 AM on August 21, 2013


More Hilda! Awesome. Awesome. Rad. Hilda can we be BFFs please?
posted by showbiz_liz at 7:57 AM on August 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


She's just doing so many THINGS! She's never posing, she's just getting caught in delightful poses in the course of doing Actual Normal People Things. Adorable.
posted by little cow make small moo at 7:57 AM on August 21, 2013 [5 favorites]


Someone's been looking at Jaime Hernandez' tumblr again.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 7:58 AM on August 21, 2013 [4 favorites]


I love this. Hilda is amazing.
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 7:58 AM on August 21, 2013


<3 <3 <3
posted by edheil at 8:06 AM on August 21, 2013


Great, slightly more naturalized poses in which we can objectify women, hooray. A victory for plus sized women. As drawn by a man.
posted by stoneandstar at 8:07 AM on August 21, 2013 [6 favorites]


PLUMBING
posted by louche mustachio at 8:08 AM on August 21, 2013


PLUMBING

Link is broken. Get Hilda, she'll fix it!
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:09 AM on August 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


Great, slightly more naturalized poses in which we can objectify women, hooray. A victory for plus sized women. As drawn by a man.

I genuinely think that much of the harm in media's sexualization of women is the narrow range of physical types allowed to be attractive. There are other issues, but of course it's silly to expect one body of work to tackle every. Single. One of them.

So like, your comment, when read unironically? I totally agree with.
posted by jsturgill at 8:14 AM on August 21, 2013 [19 favorites]


I love the gallery 2 link. My favourite is the one where she's hiding from her dog!
posted by bonobothegreat at 8:16 AM on August 21, 2013


My partner is a plus-sized woman, and our aging landlord often leers at her and even comments on her body when she is in the sorts of situations these pin-ups depict: innocent, day-to-day life. Like, "Whoops, don't bend over too far there, honey." And like, "Are you trying to tell me something with that blouse?"

It's not nearly as sexy in real life, let me tell you. But yeah, plus-sized women of the world: you too can be a sexual object for men no matter what you're actually doing, as if you didn't already know.

That sounds bitter, and it is. I have mixed feelings about this. For instance, my partner would probably like these pin-ups, even though the real life occurrence of what they signify makes her feel gross and threatened.
posted by gilrain at 8:20 AM on August 21, 2013 [8 favorites]


ME IRL
ME ME ME

posted by Greg Nog at 8:22 AM on August 21, 2013



Link is broken. Get Hilda, she'll fix it!

She's handy!

(it worked for me in Chrome; it's not broken so much as Googlebusted)

I hear it's fun
posted by louche mustachio at 8:22 AM on August 21, 2013



ME IRL
ME ME ME


You're hosted by Angelfire?


I KNEW IT
posted by louche mustachio at 8:23 AM on August 21, 2013 [7 favorites]


My wife and I have been big fans of Hilda for a while now (she bares quite a striking resemblance to Hilda).
posted by Captain_Science at 8:28 AM on August 21, 2013


This is me IRL, at the White Birch Cabin in the Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park at 3AM.
posted by louche mustachio at 8:31 AM on August 21, 2013 [3 favorites]


It's not that she's a plus size (urrgh) pin up girl, it's that she comes across as a proper woman that makes these great. You could imagine knowning her in real life, which you can't really with any of the stylised Vargas or Gibson girls.
posted by MartinWisse at 8:38 AM on August 21, 2013 [8 favorites]


It's not nearly as sexy in real life, let me tell you. But yeah, plus-sized women of the world: you too can be a sexual object for men no matter what you're actually doing, as if you didn't already know.

These are a product that was intended for men, yes, but I really think that the talent of the illustrator coupled with the fun she keeps having (all by herself! No need for a man!) kind of widens the scope here in our cultural moment.

She isn't demeaned, and while she may only have two expressions, look at all the stuff she's doing! She is adventerous, thrifty, resourceful, and the best kind of fisherperson: both lazy and successful.

These strike me as some of the healthiest expressions of sexuality I've seen in a while.
posted by jsturgill at 8:40 AM on August 21, 2013 [20 favorites]


Compared to most bodies these days, she isn't plus-sized at all.
posted by five fresh fish at 8:44 AM on August 21, 2013 [2 favorites]


Well, as I said: I have mixed feelings. I can see the positive aspects in some of these pin-ups, but in others I see a clumsy, ditzy, girl-woman stereotype and seem to hear a lot of slide-whistle sound effects in the background.

I agree that as examples of a genre, they're excellently illustrated and maybe somewhat more positive in their expression. But they don't transcend the issues inherent in that genre.
posted by gilrain at 8:47 AM on August 21, 2013 [2 favorites]


gilrain: Well, I think there's an expectation with art form of the pinup that the point of the art is to allow someone to leer. The difference between that and someone inappropriately leering and leching in real life is pretty much the difference between make-believe and the real world. I'm sorry that some people need that pointed out but this guy should get the fuck over himself and stop being a rude douchecanoe.
posted by rmd1023 at 8:50 AM on August 21, 2013 [2 favorites]


she bares quite a striking resemblance

We continue to see what you're doing there
posted by pullayup at 8:56 AM on August 21, 2013 [9 favorites]


I originally found these through Kate Beaton's blog.

A propos of nothing, this is what she posted today.

talk about mixed messages
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 9:18 AM on August 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


There may not have been pin ups for women at the time, and this was definitely sexist, but the same can hardly be said of today. Looking at people we think are pretty and imagining them in various situations is a human thing, not a male thing.
posted by Sequence at 9:43 AM on August 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


A propos of nothing, this is what she posted today.

Oh man, that rules. Now I really want someone to open a "Mrs. P.J. Gilligan's" restaurant/bar, basically functioning as a RadFem version of TGIFriday's.
posted by Greg Nog at 9:43 AM on August 21, 2013 [5 favorites]


I've been collecting Hilda for ages, and I adore her. I'm just mad, with this stuff making the rounds, that I didn't scan my Hilda stuff and put it up years ago so I could have been seen as the guy in the know. First Mike Birbiglia, now Hilda. I'm always late to the game, even when I'm not. Gah.

That said, she's an excellent example of why only very old porn turns me on—she's having fun! She's happy! She's playful! She seems to actually enjoy being alive!

All of these things are now forbidden in titillating imagery, because sex is SERIOUS and ANGRY now. Grrr, take that, grit your teeth and bear it! Yeah, hurts, don't it? Yeah, take it and shut up! It's either angry-sexy, or sultry-sexy, or airbrushed-like-a-fucking-sonuvabitch-sexy, and we do not smile or laugh.

I think I've been chasing the ephemeral notion of Hilda, or the ephemeral notion of boy-Hilda, ever since I found that first calendar rolled up in the attic of a house I was working on a long time ago. Happy Hilda is the figure of fun, it said, and I love a good figure of fun.
posted by sonascope at 9:57 AM on August 21, 2013 [33 favorites]


Voluptuous? All of these hide the roll in her stomach. Pretty lame compared to classic paintings.
posted by zebraantelope at 10:02 AM on August 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


All of these things are now forbidden in titillating imagery, because sex is SERIOUS and ANGRY now. Grrr, take that, grit your teeth and bear it! Yeah, hurts, don't it? Yeah, take it and shut up! It's either angry-sexy, or sultry-sexy, or airbrushed-like-a-fucking-sonuvabitch-sexy, and we do not smile or laugh.


Man, you may need to get some different porn.

Is there a gay men's equivalent of Abby Winters?
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 10:03 AM on August 21, 2013


Man, you may need to get some different porn.

I do—it's amateur gay porn from the 1930s Civilian Conservation Corps camps and similar. Unfortunately, the gay dudes making most porn are even more fucked up about what gender is supposed to mean than straight folks, so...sigh.

Of course, this has just made me want to find a photographer and do a shot for shot remake of one of my Hilda calendars with a dude. Naturally, I get to be Hilda. Now I just need to find a tiny umbrella and a flour sack big enough to cover my ass.
posted by sonascope at 10:11 AM on August 21, 2013 [12 favorites]


And if by chance, those things are found by, say, a large community of very resourceful people, you will be posting pictures here.
posted by louche mustachio at 10:21 AM on August 21, 2013 [4 favorites]


gay men's equivalent

The artwork of Joe Phillips might be too muscle-boy/circuit-y but the same idea of joy, sweetness, playfulness and exuberance is what sets his stuff apart. Mostly in the calendar illustration.
posted by ao4047 at 10:22 AM on August 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


I dig the fact that Hilda apparently does not take herself too seriously. Too many sexy people do.
posted by Samizdata at 10:25 AM on August 21, 2013


Naturally, I'm a fan of the old Cannon Towel print ads from WWII for the same reasons I love Hilda. Sometimes, I can hardly believe these ever made it into print, but the horror of the 1950s hadn't happened yet.
posted by sonascope at 10:43 AM on August 21, 2013 [5 favorites]


those canon ads are hot, i also like a lot of the am stuff thats happening right now, just big smiles all around.
posted by PinkMoose at 11:11 AM on August 21, 2013


Thanks for sharing! I saw some of these before, but didn't know she had a name.
posted by Calzephyr at 11:14 AM on August 21, 2013


I bought a house a few years back and out in the shed were four different Hilda pin-ups (1 2 3 4) that had obviously been up there for years. I took them inside and mounted them in floating frames. Unfortunately they stayed with the house when I left, but I figured that was their home anyway.
posted by komara at 11:37 AM on August 21, 2013


I dig the fact that Hilda apparently does not take herself too seriously. Too many sexy people do.

A lot of Hilda's appeal is that she is portrayed as being so free-spirited and confident.

Most sexy people are posing and overthinking the whole sexy business. They cannot frolic or toast their buns because NOW IS TIEM TO BE SEXY AND I MUST SERIOUS. SCOWL GRRRR. I AM WILD ANIMAL. POOCH POUT SNARL.

Somehow, I have a hard time finding people (real or fictional) sexy if they seems like they would be a chore to hang out with.
posted by louche mustachio at 11:49 AM on August 21, 2013 [5 favorites]


I'm torn between two reactions:

The one of her on the (oddly tree-mounted) phone? Hominahominahomina and all that. I think it's the flirty smile.

The one of her climbing three-quarters naked through barbed wire? AGH AGH NO AT LEAST PUT ON SOME JEANS FIRST AND/OR HAVE A TETANUS SHOT HANDY

I...I don't do the outdoors well.
posted by Mr. Bad Example at 11:57 AM on August 21, 2013 [5 favorites]


No, you are doing outdoors correctly. Do NOT climb through barbed wire in a bathing suit.

Even if there are strawberries or horses or adventures on the other side.

Trust me.
posted by louche mustachio at 12:04 PM on August 21, 2013 [3 favorites]


(I did it for snakes, myself.)
posted by louche mustachio at 12:09 PM on August 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


I did it for beer.
posted by notyou at 12:21 PM on August 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


Hilda's adorable.

I almost feel like some of the pictures are mocking her though, or would be if they were made now. I'm not quite sure how to explain what I mean by that, though.
posted by windykites at 12:38 PM on August 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


Wow, Duane Bryers really knew his figure drawing.

And surely was on affectionate terms with an ample woman or some.
posted by glasseyes at 12:44 PM on August 21, 2013


Ok that swinging upside-down from a branch one would have turned out different it he'd drawn from an actual upside-down woman instead of a right-ways-up one inverted on the page.
posted by glasseyes at 12:58 PM on August 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


pin-up art’s best kept secret

Maybe, but it's not a mystery why I've never seen Hilda painted on the side of a plane.
posted by four panels at 12:59 PM on August 21, 2013


I almost feel like some of the pictures are mocking her though, or would be if they were made now. I'm not quite sure how to explain what I mean by that, though.

Yeah, they definitely are. I mean, the hallmark of the pin-up style is basically grown women made helpless by unfortunate circumstances, not being able to control what happens to their body or what they expose. Behaving like surprised children, so there's the "cute" (helpless, irrational) combined with the sexy. She's like the adorable puppy with a cast on the side of the road you can adopt and have sex with, or something.

It's very exploitative in that sense-- we want to see the woman next door in a negligee through her curtains! It gives us a thrill that she doesn't know and is going about her business! We like taking upskirt photos, because girls are helpless and surprised! When a lady's dress rides up on the escalator, we can reach up and brush her ass, and all she can do is turn around and blush! &c. It's a great thrill.

I mean, if we're going to call this "humanizing" the pin-up, I guess for me that's a bit of a contradiction. "Humanizing" a pin-up would be showing her having her own independent sexual desires and consenting to sex willingly... not being leered at while she tries to shop or cook or swim or pick flowers.

But yeah, plus-sized women of the world: you too can be a sexual object for men no matter what you're actually doing, as if you didn't already know.

Heh, exactly.

I mean, I get feeling somewhat empowered that your physical form is being idealized-- I've been there-- but does it have to be done in this kind of dopey way? The "joyfulness" of these images doesn't improve them IMO; it's specifically when I feel happy and joyful that I feel free and don't want men rubbing their crotches on me. I think that seeing the pleasure of all types of bodies is a wonderful thing, but these are just pure male gaze. Plus, she's romping around like a child.

I guess the same problem exists in R. Crumb-- a lot of women say that his comics made them feel sexy in a way they never had. But then again, a lot of his comics show him essentially raping women with the mental capacity of cavepeople.
posted by stoneandstar at 2:14 PM on August 21, 2013 [6 favorites]


Yeah, while I totally agree that these photos are way better than a lot of pin-ups, they still have that awful quality of helplessness to them. Like, "Oh, my, I tried to rock-climb but my bra came off! I wish I had a good man to help me and set me straight! COULD YOU BE THE ONE?"

I bummed out an old roommate when I told her I felt really uncomfortable with the idea of hanging her pin-up collection in the living room. I am also the fun-killer, I know. I mean, I get that Hilda looks more like she's having fun than most pin-ups. She also seems just as hapless and childish as the rest of them. Like, "Oh, my, I thought I could change a tire, but then my shirt fell off!"

Yech. Better than most, but still not feeling like an actual capable human, like most women I know happen to be. Sorry, Hilda, but yech.
posted by lauranesson at 3:35 PM on August 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


I mean, the closest thing to a pin-up in which I've personally ever featured is a photo my husband took of me watching a washing machine cycle through while pointing out to him to the part I fixed. I happened to look cute, for once, and I happened to fix the machine on the first try because I have a real human brain, and miraculously, none of my clothes fell off in the process. The whole pin-up scene just feels thoroughly demeaning and demoralizing.
posted by lauranesson at 3:39 PM on August 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


I mean, I get feeling somewhat empowered that your physical form is being idealized-- I've been there-- but does it have to be done in this kind of dopey way? The "joyfulness" of these images doesn't improve them IMO; it's specifically when I feel happy and joyful that I feel free and don't want men rubbing their crotches on me. I think that seeing the pleasure of all types of bodies is a wonderful thing, but these are just pure male gaze. Plus, she's romping around like a child.

I agree with the male gaze thing but I do relate more to these Hilda pics then I have to any other pin-ups I've seen. I like that she's romping around like a child. I'm in my early 40s and romp whenever I get a chance. I will never stop romping like a kid when I can. I went to a museum today which had a exhibit about Greece directed at kids. There was a big Trojan horse that you could climb into and I was completely bummed THAT I WASN'T ALLOWED TOO. Seriously it was a giant Trojan horse and adult me was forbidden. I came so close to asking the museum people for special permission.

I laugh out loud at a few of these pics, because I've done similar things. Running around doing chores outside in skimpy dress? Yep. Been there done that. The most recent funny thing which I could totally see made into this style of pin-up was me deciding that even though it snowed over a foot overnight that if I was quick enough I could run out and feed the chickens while just wearing my housecoat. Of course I slipped and landed bared assed into a snowdrift with housecoat flying open. I expect my expression was a lot like Hilda's. I couldn't stop laughing at myself.

If in an alternate universe I had to be a pin-up girl, I'd totally be Hilda. I think she rocks.
posted by Jalliah at 3:43 PM on August 21, 2013 [6 favorites]



Adding. To me she comes across as a women who is clutzy. I can see how it can be seen as not capable. I think I can just relate to the whole joyful romping thing with something going 'oops'. I'm a clutz and am always getting myself into awful and terribly funny predicaments so that's what I see in these pics.
posted by Jalliah at 3:49 PM on August 21, 2013


Yeah, while I totally agree that these photos are way better than a lot of pin-ups, they still have that awful quality of helplessness to them. Like, "Oh, my, I tried to rock-climb but my bra came off! I wish I had a good man to help me and set me straight! COULD YOU BE THE ONE?"

I actually don't get this from most of the Hilda pin-ups. She's usually just playing around, romping in the wilderness, or lounging, and if not, then she's actively trying to do things for herself (fix a stove, milk a cow, etc). She's not usually depicted in a moment of helplessness, and when she is, it's more silly than seductive. And I, at least, always get the impression that even when she does fall off a ladder or something, she's gonna get HERSELF up off the ground, not wait for someone to help her up.

We're probably both projecting, of course. But I think that even aside from Hilda's body type, she's fairly unique among pin-up girls because she's NOT depicted as helpless.
posted by showbiz_liz at 3:49 PM on August 21, 2013 [6 favorites]


Jalliah: "Adding. To me she comes across as a women who is clutzy. I can see how it can be seen as not capable. I think I can just relate to the whole joyful romping thing with something going 'oops'. I'm a clutz and am always getting myself into awful and terribly funny predicaments so that's what I see in these pics."

Just chiming in to say personal experience proves men can be klutzy too.

(My nickname in high school was Spaz. No offense intended to anyone, but that's what it was.)

Not so sexy in a bikini though.
posted by Samizdata at 4:52 PM on August 21, 2013


This chair bathtub thing-y was common, once? Cool! I need one...
posted by ashbury at 5:06 PM on August 21, 2013


but these are just pure male gaze


Hey, some of my best friends are male gaze. I can't vouch for their purity.



Seriously, while these are clearly made for consumption, I don't think she's helpless at all, just temporarily inconvenienced. She's very active and self-motivated in a way that most other pin-up girls aren't - she's more like a character in her own fully realized universe. She's alone, but she isn't lonely, she's perfectly content that way.

I was just thinking of Gil Elvgren when people were mentioning her being humiliated for titilation's sake. Elvgen's trademark was a woman whose skirt had somehow accidentally been pulled up or down to expose the maximum amount of leg. I compared the two, and one of the things I noted about the Hilda drawings is that though the artist is "exposing" her during the course of her adventures for a reason, there is no implied man in the scene with her. She's not winking at anyone, she's not part of some stiff vignette - she's fully absorbed in what she's doing, and will carry on whether you are there or not. You're lucky you caught a glimpse, but she's just fine and perfectly happy without a man, thankyouverymuch.

I identify with her, not only because I am on the zaftig side myself, but because I love to gallivant and play and fix things and toast my buns by a woodstove. And I am clumsy, but I don't need to be rescued - I just pick myself up, gather up any lost clothing/body parts, and continue having my fun. And so does Hilda.
posted by louche mustachio at 5:13 PM on August 21, 2013 [6 favorites]


Not so sexy in a bikini though.


Don't be so sure. It's all about how the bikini makes you feel.
posted by louche mustachio at 5:17 PM on August 21, 2013


stoneandstar Great, slightly more naturalized poses in which we can objectify women, hooray. A victory for plus sized women. As drawn by a man.

Hmm. I suppose it could be taken that way, but I don't see it that way.

Your comment comes across as so black and white. We can't admire some pictures of a sexy woman (or man) if the purpose of the pictures are to be sexy? That seems so...joyless. And bleak.
posted by ashbury at 5:24 PM on August 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


I find it kind of weird that pinups have become so normalized in general, like cupcakes or kittens or whatever. Like... they're for jerking off, let's not forget. To combine two depressing recent Metafilter topics, I went to the Smithsonian's Air and Space Museum last month. I wanted to buy something cute in the gift shop for my sister's baby (boy) who will be arriving soon. They didn't have a lot of baby stuff, but worse, the only stuff they did seem to have was pink with flowers on it (at the Air and Space Museum???) or a Hello Kitty or whatever, talking about being diva fab on an asteroid or whatever genderbabble they put on girls' lunchboxes. Then I went upstairs and saw the bitchin'est military-garb-inspired women's sweatshirt ever (why was this here, I don't know), but when I checked it out, the lining (which was visible on the hood) was covered in a million tiny sexy pinup girls. Wtf. They're not like tiny flowers! I am not afraid my boobs will fall off if I wear a menswear inspired sweatshirt without diminutive naked women sewn on to it.


Back to the subject at hand, these are maybe marginally better than most pinups, I think because her face looks somewhat human instead of Sex Doll-esque, and there is some genuine emotion in them. But her klutziness essentially communicates (sexual) vulnerability. Why would a woman do these things in the nude. There is not a reason.

And maybe I would disagree that there's no "man" involved, at least in the sense that when you see a goat tugging the flowers off her sash, or a dog pulling down her pyjama-flap... there's a degree to which men are supposed to identify with the lucky goat or dog that is violating the unsuspecting woman. It's an "innocent" girlish Coppertone-ad way of basically molesting the pin-up. (Putting the agency on an animal or unhappy circumstance makes it fit for cute-sification, but unless we're going to deny the fact that these were made for sexual purposes at all, there's something about the artist or intended audience that likes to see a woman unwillingly disarmed.)

I dunno. She looks like she's having fun and all... but is Hilda just Duane Bryers' archetype of the Manic Pixie Dream Girl?? dun-dun-dun

(I'm kind of serious in the sense that, why shouldn't she need a man? Why couldn't she be having normal sexual interactions with a man or a woman, like a woman would? Why is she acting like a fairy princess, and why do men like the fantasy of a woman like this? Why is she acting like this is the first time she's seen a squirrel... and marveling at the wonder of every moment?? Enduring stuff.)
posted by stoneandstar at 5:30 PM on August 21, 2013 [2 favorites]


Yes, I am joyless and bleak. You got me.
posted by stoneandstar at 5:30 PM on August 21, 2013


I'm not saying that you are joyless and bleak, but that the comment came across that way, at least to me.

You've analyzed the pictures in a way that I didn't, and likely wouldn't have, but I think you're spot on when you say that there is a "man" involved, hidden in the form of a goat or a dog - two animals that are known to be somewhat randy. And these are directed primarily towards men, the viewer on the other side of the window, invisible.
posted by ashbury at 5:44 PM on August 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


awful quality of helplessness to them

Some are a little bit like this, mostly in the "oh, help, wardrobe malfunction!" kind of way, but in others she's clearly strong and capable, albeit in a hearty, rustic kind of way. She's back from snowshoeing, she's riding her bike, she's heaving rocks into the lake, she's chasing a cow with a lasso. Sure, in some cases, it's a setup for infantilizing pinup hijinks, but in most of them (unless there are images missing) it actually isn't, beyond the fact that she's woefully underdressed.

Some of these things I can't do. I couldn't balance on a wire fence. I literally could not sail a boat if my life depended on it. Could you?
posted by pullayup at 6:05 PM on August 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


On the other hand I completely agree that the goat and dog are there to represent the male gaze.
posted by pullayup at 6:08 PM on August 21, 2013


Naturally, I'm a fan of the old Cannon Towel print ads from WWII for the same reasons I love Hilda.

"There goes a MAN."
posted by FatherDagon at 6:16 PM on August 21, 2013


I dig the picture of Hilda reading a book and getting a good laugh out of "Plumbing is Fun". No goats or dogs that I could see, just someone having a good laugh from a book.
posted by jadepearl at 6:30 PM on August 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


Like... they're for jerking off, let's not forget.

Seems pretty normal to me.
posted by Zalzidrax at 7:15 PM on August 21, 2013


THIS IS THE BEST PICTURE IN THE HISTORY OF ALL PICTURES

Me and my Hilda-shaped, bikini-wearing body definitely approve.
posted by triggerfinger at 7:23 PM on August 21, 2013 [2 favorites]


Like... they're for jerking off, let's not forget.

They're for titillation, which may lead to jerking off. That's ok.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:27 PM on August 21, 2013


Ashbury, I'm pretty sure that's just a stylized, cartoonified slipper bathtub.
posted by windykites at 7:37 PM on August 21, 2013


Hilda is just plain fun - no need to get all hot and bothered about the objectification of women or assign any other serious meaning to her - she's just lighthearted and fun and sexy! Once in awhile we should just lighten up and enjoy the fun stuff in the world.
posted by aryma at 7:40 PM on August 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


These are way better than the dude obsessed with celery, improbably-falling-down underwear and creepy lurking men. (I won't visit the nutter Lilek's site any longer, but he had a collection of them there.)

stoneandstar, you've added some thoughtful comments, but I'm curious (and not in an under-handed I'm-really-trying-to-insult-you-with-my-question way): Do you think all images which objectify the people in them are problematic? I mean, there seems to be a scale from "definitely sketchy" (say, an ad for motor oil featuring women in revealing clothing) to "this seems OK" (say, an erotic photo shot in safe conditions with a willing and well-paid model).

Maybe it's the context, in that pin-up art generally is hung up in places where the act of displaying it is meant to be provocative and hostile, and it's difficult to view it without being reminded of the context? (Which is how I've always viewed "cheesecake" calendars hanging in a workshop, or whatever.)
posted by maxwelton at 7:52 PM on August 21, 2013


I have certainly seen and heard of pin-ups being hung in a hostile or alienating way, but that generally isn't how they are deployed. I'm more accustomed to seeing the more contemporary versions hanging in places where only men work, like the office of an auto detailing shop. They aren't there to be aggressive, really, they just indicate an environment and culture where women usually aren't present. It becomes a confrontation when women enter that sphere, and it is part and parcel of the resistance to accept them into the dude clubhouse. It's like a "NO GIRLS ALLOWED" sign on it, with... uh.. girls.

I can honestly respect the viewpoint that finds pin-up girls disturbing, but there's also a history of feminists embracing the pin-up as a symbol of revolution, a casting off of restrictive social and sexual mores. This is the way that I see someone like Hilda - she's very much an idealized figure, but there's something very individual about her too.

But then, I honestly like pin-up art. I make some of it myself, on occasion. Women are beautiful and very fun to draw.
posted by louche mustachio at 9:42 PM on August 21, 2013


can we cut it out with the "she critiqued something men enjoy sexually, clearly she's an uptight prude who thinks jerking off is wrong" trope? Or is it just lazy opinions day? Should I just start shooting off glib one-liners about everyone in this thread who isn't validating my sense of right and wrong?

maxwelton, your example of the well-paid model taking pictures in a safe, ethical environment is obviously the least bad possible scenario, but as long as there is such a heavy bias in the way we think about eroticism and female bodies (where naked idealized woman = sex), it will be "problematic," IMO. Stoya writes some interesting things about this. She says she's a feminist, but her job is not, and I think that's a useful distinction to make, especially when feminists are pressured to show how friendly and sex- and fun-loving they are as to not scare anyone away. She is a porn actress and she thinks very critically about her craft-- is that wrong? Should she just be quiet and keep smiling and having "fun"? What is wrong with talking about sex? We can find it fun sometimes and think critically about it at other times and we will not drop dead.

But you know, I forgot that sex is strictly off-limits for discourse and is only "fun," and I am uptight/hot and bothered/a feminazi or whatever. Porn on the blue is always for fun! Which is why we're going to post some erotic photos of men blushing and spilling the flour while they attempt to bake muffins with no underwear next, and all them men are going to chime in with, "how cute! he's having so much fun! I really identify with this!"

It's ok to not find all instances of sexual glorification "fun."
posted by stoneandstar at 9:55 PM on August 21, 2013 [2 favorites]


Also it's interesting that you mention the celery dude, because I got the exact same vibe from these that I got from "oh whoops my underwear fell down AND I dropped the celery and now my dog has wrapped its leash around my ankles!!" photos that I assume that guy is responsible for. They both read kind of creepy and exploitative (i.e. taking erotic pleasure in exploitation) to me, these with an added layer of complexity, but nonetheless.

There are many places in the world, maybe all places, where women can't go about their daily business without being photographed or wolfwhistled or jeered at and sexualized. In fact, I just read this very depressing article written by a woman I know somewhat about how she was literally traumatized by street harassment in India and had to take a leave of absence from school, because of the oppressive sense of being watched and devoured by men on a daily basis (not to mention several instances of attempted assault). She describes dancing in the Ganesha festival, a joyful and beautiful experience (to rival even Hilda's exploits!), until she realizes that the festival stopped when she and her fellow students started dancing because there were men everywhere filming everything they did.

I think a lot of women go through life mildly traumatized by the voyeurism they put up with on a daily basis, so if we don't find pin-up art based on idealizations of these exact situations terribly fun, is that really such a bitchy thing to feel? Is it not okay to instinctually feel that way? Is it impossible to see how these fantasy impulses directed outward onto real women have serious and unhappy consequences? Is it not okay to be wary of that? Do we have to "reclaim it" or take part in it, just because it's beloved of the culture? Titillation can have consequences.
posted by stoneandstar at 10:14 PM on August 21, 2013 [2 favorites]


To be clear, I don't have any feels one way or the other about these images or pin-up art in general. My life would be no worse if it didn't exist, and obviously as a fairly privileged dude my life isn't affected much by them existing.

One of the reasons I don't have any "sexy" pictures hanging up in my shop or anywhere else is that I'm uncomfortable, as a hetero guy, when I go to another person's place and that sort of stuff is around. It's like getting a look at a part of their lives I really don't have any business looking at, and definitely don't want to talk about with them. And I can't imagine they feel all that welcoming to a lot of women.

(Tool calendars are the worst. All I can think of when I see them is "she's going to be really unhappy if she actually fires that welder up while wearing that outfit.")

posted by maxwelton at 11:26 PM on August 21, 2013 [2 favorites]


can we cut it out with the "she critiqued something men enjoy sexually, clearly she's an uptight prude who thinks jerking off is wrong" trope? Or is it just lazy opinions day? Should I just start shooting off glib one-liners about everyone in this thread who isn't validating my sense of right and wrong?

Read the room. Men and women were throughly enjoying the art in the links and then you show up to tell everyone how icky said art is with glib one-liners. So can we cut it out with the "Great, slightly more naturalized poses in which we can objectify women, hooray" trope?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 1:44 AM on August 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


I can understand how this might make someone feel skeeved out. Everyone brings their own experience to this sort of thing.

But this isn't just a mindless celebration of porn yay all the time. Many of us have put just as much and study and thought into the way women are portrayed and treated in society as you have, the way they are portrayed in the media, the way culture treats our sexuality and came up with different conclusions.

Let me hand you another pair of goggles here. A lot of the women who have commented in this thread have been pretty thrilled to see a woman built like Hilda portrayed as sexy. Because that is AMAZING to us because it almost never happens. Every day we are surrounded, inundated, with messages that we are unhealthy and disgusting and unattractive and nobody will ever love us and definitely they will not have sex with us. All of this is bullshit, of course, but it's as distressing as it is relentless. Sure, we shouldn't care what anyone thinks about how we look, but we do, we can't help it.


So here comes Hilda on her bike, in her bikini, happy and healthy and SEXY. And we feel really good seeing her, because we feel like maybe we could be that happy and confident and feel that free and awesome in our bodies.

But then you say NO! THIS IS BAD AND YOU SHOULD FEEL BAD.

Because men might look at us, and be attracted to us, and that would be... bad? And so it's hot out but .. um.. I guess we should put our bikinis away. We can't win, here, ladies.

Sure, it's drawn by a man. Hilda really seems to be his ideal woman. And that's cool, because men are allowed to have fantasies and sex lives too - they would be miserable if they didn't, and hey, I'm a (mostly) heterosexual woman, and I would be miserable if they didn't.

Not every instance of a man looking at a woman and finding her attractive is oppressive. There really is a continuum, and this, at least to my seeing, falls on the good side of that. I mean, I used to spend eight hours a day looking at all kinds of pornography, so that might have skewed my vision a bit, but this looks super OK to me.

I think that we have a lot of work to do with regards to the way that society treats women. I have sounded off in threads about these issues very recently. But sex and sexuality are a part of being human and living with each other. I'm not sex-positive because of peer pressure, I'm sex positive because sex is really not a terrible thing. We have to find ways of making society more equal that include finding healthy ways of expressing that and appreciating each other. Ways that are consensual and not creepy.



Which is why we're going to post some erotic photos of men blushing and spilling the flour while they attempt to bake muffins with no underwear next, and all them men are going to chime in with, "how cute! he's having so much fun! I really identify with this!"

I would like nothing better. Aaaand I believe this is set to happen when someone finds sonascope a flour sack and a tiny umbrella.
posted by louche mustachio at 3:22 AM on August 22, 2013 [13 favorites]


For a long time, Maurice Vellecoop has been doing that sort of comic. Here are some very NSFW pinup guys from his website.
posted by bonobothegreat at 8:36 AM on August 22, 2013


There's been two links to "pinup boys" posted in this thread so far, and they both seem a bit disingenious to me. The first because those guys are in poses that pinup girls usually take, which means that they're emphasising seconday sexual characteristics that they don't actually have instead of emphasizing the ones that they do have. The second link isn't really fair to call "pinup", because 1) they're not titillating, "accidental" or. "Peekaboo" displays, they're blatant and deliberate nude pics and b) the men's genitals are fully visible. So far I still haven't seen anything that's a "male pinup" that's on par with most female pinups- where you could, for example, almost see a penis because the pants are low-slung or the sponge almost reveals it, or where a man's posture "accidentally" displays the bulge in his pants or his broad chest or whatever- except for in advertising.
posted by windykites at 9:26 AM on August 22, 2013


But you know, I forgot that sex is strictly off-limits for discourse and is only "fun," and I am uptight/hot and bothered/a feminazi or whatever.

As a fellow feminazi (I have actually been called this out loud to my face- it was hilarious), I think that what you're saying is totally valid. But I also feel that the urge for historically oppressed/denigrated groups (in Hilda's case- women/fat women/fat people in general) to reappropriate, reclaim, and recontextualize offensive words and imagery is also valid. And though I haven't personally reclaimed everything that others in my shared groups have chosen to ("nigga", "slut," etc), I have absolutely no problem with their decision to do so.

Also, was Bryers being, in some way, subversive? Can a person be subversive without meaning to and/or is it even possible for a man to draw a subversive pin-up girl? Was his choice to create a fat pin-up girl an intentional statement about the women that were typically being depicted or did he just find chubby gingers cute? I have no idea.

Really though, I think the struggle women face to take back their sexuality while also trying to avoid giving off the impression that they're pandering to the male gaze and/or ignoring historical context is an ongoing and complicated battle. So I understand where you're coming from and fully respect your interpretation of these images.

That being said, I think Hilda is unbelievably wonderful and sexy and delightful. Like unbelievably.
posted by eunoia at 9:42 AM on August 22, 2013 [3 favorites]


So far I still haven't seen anything that's a "male pinup" that's on par with most female pinups- where you could, for example, almost see a penis because the pants are low-slung or the sponge almost reveals it, or where a man's posture "accidentally" displays the bulge in his pants or his broad chest or whatever- except for in advertising.

At the risk of continuing the constant posting of a certain mefite's blog, you might check out everything that elizardbits tags "i'll take two"
posted by Greg Nog at 9:43 AM on August 22, 2013 [7 favorites]


That's more like it!
posted by windykites at 10:41 AM on August 22, 2013


I was going to go back and look up some cutie-twink shots that were very much in that spirit but I don't recall where they were and would have had to trace my way back through and elaborate dong labyrinth so thank you.
posted by louche mustachio at 3:41 PM on August 22, 2013 [3 favorites]


I MIGHT HAVE GOTTEN LOST
posted by louche mustachio at 4:56 PM on August 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


I was also going to suggest Tom of Finland, but that's a little more like "Oopsie! my pants just fell down ON PURPOSE."
posted by louche mustachio at 4:58 PM on August 22, 2013


...elaborate dong labyrinth...

BAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAhahahaha omg my husband just totally looked at me like WHAT IN THE HOLY ROLLING FUCK ARE YOU GIGGLING AT OVER THERE!!!

... and I would have had to explain elizardbits' tumblr and the whole elaborate dong labyrinth thing and, welp, fuckit.

I call dibs on this for band names.
posted by lonefrontranger at 7:40 PM on August 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


I have been humming that Queen song for hours and it just now dawned on me why. So thanks for that. (I really like Hilda. It may be a case of liking problematic things, though.)
posted by gingerest at 4:11 AM on August 25, 2013


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