How one woman found yoga, eased her inner hunger, and started loving herself. Follow Kimber as she shares her journey to loving her body, the joys and sorrows of yoga teaching, and venturing into the wilderness of writing and publishing.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Beautiful, Sexy, and Fat: A Love Your Body Role Model

Have you met Hilda? She’s the playful, funny, active, strong, and gorgeous pin-up girl illustrated by Duane Bryers from 1957 into the 80s.  She’s also fat.  And she’s sexy.  These last two adjectives don’t often fit together in our modern culture, but they were not always the antonyms they are treated as now.  In another era Hilda was considered healthy, desirable, and zaftig, but if she showed up in the typical doctor’s office nowadays, she’d likely be sent out the door with a handful of dieting brochures and strict admonitions about cutting down on the sugar and fats and showing up for gym bootcamp.

Yet she was a successful calendar girl not in spite of her size, but because of it. 

I first met Hilda many years ago at a friend’s house, where framed illustrations of her frolicking and cavorting at the beach lined the wall above the tub in the bathroom.  It was love at first sight.  Hilda does everything… swims, sails, paints, plays outside wearing nothing but flowers, ropes cows, climbs fences, loves nature, plays guitar, and enjoys a good book in her rocker garbed in her favorite red-long johns.  Sure, she was originally painted as a calendar girl for the enjoyment of straight men and the depictions are totally sexist. 

She’s still my hero. 

If you look on the expressions on Hilda’s face, you see a carefree self-confident woman unafraid of a little adventure, who’s willing to embarrass herself, because life is worth the fun and the thrill of it.  She’s outdoorsy and active, but knows the charms of a warm fire and a soft bed.  She doesn’t think twice about wearing a bikini; her belly and her big thighs are part of her charm, and she knows it.  In fact, she must live someplace rather warm… you get the sense that her preferred dress would be nothing at all, that the flowers are added out of respect for the modesty of the viewer, but not her own.  She enjoys her body, and doesn’t see it as a barrier to climbing trees, balancing on a fence, or swinging on a tire swing. 

When it comes to body image issues, I think a good question to ask ourselves is “What would Hilda do?” 

Would Hilda be afraid to show up at the pool in her flowered swimsuit?  No way.
Would Hilda show up in yoga class, do her best, and rest with a sigh into savasana?  You bet she would.
Would Hilda stand in front of the mirror and give herself a hard time about her butt, and put herself on a strict diet?  Never. 

Hilda’s success as a calendar model over thirty years tells me something about men too:
Men find big women sexy.
Men appreciate women who are active, confident, and not afraid to make a fool of themselves. 
Men are attracted to women who are unselfconscious and enjoy their own sexuality. 

This may not be true for all men, but many more than you’d think, if not most.  By the way, for all those same-sex loving women out there, I have it on good authority the exact same thing is true for lesbians. 

If Hilda can be sexy and confident, why can’t you and I? 

Let Hilda be an inspiration to you, whatever size you are, remembering that your ability to love yourself is not decided by billboards, fashion shows, or your dress size.  Look for other Love Your Body role models all around you in the world.  They are out there.  I’m always on the look out for new ones, so let me know what you find. 
And finally, consider becoming your own Love Your Body role model, the person your friends look to as the embodiment of self-confidence and enjoyment in life.  It’s a role well-worth playing. 

Love Your Body Blog Part 71