The Pinup Model's Guide To Body Confidence

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

Maybe it's this obvious confidence and unabashed joy — all despite the many challenges Page faced in her impoverished, abusive childhood — that makes Bettie so appealing to women. In fact, women make up the majority of Page’s fan base, according to filmmaker Mark Mori, director of the documentary Bettie Page Reveals All. She inspires females of all sizes and shapes to embrace and express who they are, as they are. Click through for eight Page-inspired ways to feel great about yourself.
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Photo: Courtesy of Rizzoli.
Do you — for real.

Page, who was once turned down by Ford Modeling Agency for being "too curvy," became arguably the most influential model of all time. She ranked ninth last year on Forbes’ 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, Page had no clue she was doing anything special. When Yeager asked Page about her pervasive, trendsetting influence, Page said, “I wasn’t trying to be anything. I was just myself.” So, take it from Page and don’t try too hard. You’re already a badass, even if you don't know it.
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Photo: Courtesy of Rizzoli.
Strike a power pose.

Page 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.
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Photo: Courtesy of Rizzoli.
Align with people who bring out your best.

Page 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 Yeager was always able to capture Page'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 Page in 1955 became Playboy's first-ever Christmas centerfold.
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Photo: Courtesy of Rizzoli.
Take risks.

It was rare in Page’s time for a woman to go to college, live alone, or support herself — but Page 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, Page 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, Page 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 Page would typically wear a two-piece — or nothing at all.
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Photo: Courtesy of Rizzoli.
Know what works for you.

Yeager noted that Page 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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Photo: Courtesy of Rizzoli.
Be open to suggestions.

While walking on the beach one day, Page met amateur photographer Jerry Tibbs, who suggested that her high forehead would work well with bangs. Page 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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Photo: Courtesy of Rizzoli.
Explore your creative side.

Almost all of the bikinis and lingerie you see in Page’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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Photo: Courtesy of Rizzoli.
Be body-positive.

Part of Page’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. Page reminds us that being female is something to celebrate.
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Bettie Page: Queen of Curves, $36.52, amazon.com
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