The Bettie Page Guide To Body Confidence

The Queen of Pinups inspires women of all sizes and shapes to embrace and express who they are, as they are. Read on for eight Bettie-inspired ways to feel great about yourself.

  Photos courtesy of Rizzoli.

Photos courtesy of Rizzoli.


Bettie Page knew "exactly the right poses to make her body look perfect," says famous pin-up photographer Bunny Yeager, whose previously unreleased Bettie photos and commentary are featured in the book, Bettie Page: Queen of Curves, by Petra Mason. Indeed, you’ll notice that one of the many things that sets Bettie apart is her expert grasp of how to accentuate her "holy shit!" figure. She was often lifting, reaching, stretching, twisting, and rejoicing.

She had this obvious confidence and unabashed joy, despite all the challenges she faced in her impoverished, abusive childhood and into adulthood. This is probably one of many things that makes Bettie so appealing to women –who now make up the majority of her fan base, according to filmmaker Mark Mori, director of the documentary Bettie Page Reveals All. She inspires women of all sizes and shapes to embrace and express who they are, as they are. Read on for eight Bettie-inspired ways to feel great about yourself.

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Once turned down by Ford Modeling Agency for being "too curvy," Bettie became arguably the most influential model of all time. She keeps a steady spot on on Forbes’ annual list of top-earning deceased stars, and she’s been a source of style inspiration for everyone from Madonna to Katy Perry. Believe it or not, though, she had no clue she was doing anything special. When Yeager asked Bettie about her pervasive, trendsetting influence, she said, “I wasn’t trying to be anything. I was just myself.” So, take it from the Queen and don’t try too hard. You’re already a badass, even if you don't know it.

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Bettie knew about adopting powerful postures; her poses were open and expansive.* Studies have since found that putting your body in positions like this can actually boost your confidence and body image. So, make a point of taking up more space: Instead of standing slightly hunched with your arms crossed and your head tilted down, stand tall — with your shoulders wide and your chin up. 

[*The Bettie Page Fitness workout DVDs are purposefully packed with power poses! CLICK HERE to get yours!]

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Bettie is said to have felt especially comfortable with Yeager because she was a woman (and a pin-up model herself before she picked up the camera), and she was always able to capture Bettie's free and joyful spirit. They only worked together over the course of one summer, but their collaboration made them both legends. Yeager's famous holiday-themed shot of Bettie in 1955 became Playboy's first-ever Christmas centerfold.

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It was rare in Bettie’s time for a woman to go to college, live alone, or support herself — but she did all three. She graduated from college with a teaching degree, but dreamed of being an actress like her icon, Bette Davis. When she was in her early 20s, she moved from her hometown of Nashville to NYC to go to acting school, and she supported herself with administrative jobs before she got into modeling. As a team, Bettie and Yeager were radical, fearless, and trailblazing; here were two young women defying the societal norms of the 1950s, determined to follow their dreams. Even their trips to the beach pushed the envelope: Bikinis were still considered taboo, yet Bettie would typically wear a two-piece — or nothing at all.

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Yeager noted that Bettie wore the same simple makeup in just about every shoot. Why keep up with the trends when you're setting one yourself?

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While walking on the beach one day, Bettie met amateur photographer Jerry Tibbs, who suggested that her high forehead would work well with bangs. Bettie went home and chopped them herself, and her iconic look was born. Tibbs’s subsequent photos of her kicked off her career.

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Almost all of the bikinis and lingerie you see in Bettie’s photos were handmade by her. She knew exactly which cuts flattered her figure, so she made them herself — and unwittingly became a style idol, as confirmed by her spot on TIME’s 2012 list of the most influential fashion icons in history. Her designs were so unique that a clothing company stole some and marketed them as their own.

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Part of Bettie’s appeal is the boundless joy that seems to jump off the page at you when you look at her photos. “I was...doing my job and enjoyed every bit of it,” she says in Mori’s documentary. She was also clearly comfortable in her own skin, and wasn’t bothered by supposed "imperfections" like cellulite. Bettie reminds us that being real is something to celebrate. 💕

~ This article by Tori Rodriguez originally appeared on ~