The Woman with the Impossible Waist: How Betty Brosmer Inspires Billy Isle
Billie Eilish’s uncharacteristically sultry, low-cut photo shoot for this month on Vogue, accustomed to presenting his new, brighter view of the world for the release of the upcoming album Happier Than Ever, has inspired a rash of internet reviews. Some say she betrayed her young admirers by abandoning her broad, green-haired two-toed fingers to normative patriarchal standards of beauty; others say it is her body, her choice, and someone̵
7;s work besides hers; while others accuse Vogue of pressuring her. (Although in the interview Ailish emphasizes that the photos are entirely her idea.) This is basically a debate about the female body and who draws strength from it: does the woman have the confidence to show it and enjoy the feeling of being alive in their own skin or are men the ones who see it, salivate over it and treat women more as objects and less as people because of it? The careers of Betty Brosmer, a California pin-up and supermodel in her fifties that Ailish cites as inspiration for her new look, can provide an answer. Known for her exaggerated hourglass figure (she was called the “impossible waist”), photos of Brosmer plastered the walls of bedrooms and offices across America when Marilyn Monroe was still dancing in choral dances in low-budget comedies. She was born in Pasadena, but had her first modeling concert in New York, for Sears & Roebuck department stores, at the age of 13. She soon caught the attention of renowned pin-up photographers Alberto Vargas and Count Moran years later in 1950. She moved permanently to New York with her aunt to spend her teenage years modeling for men’s magazines, including Modern Man , Photo and People Today. Her image appears in commercials everywhere, from milk cartons to billboards and on the covers of popular romantic novels; she won numerous beauty pageants, including Miss Television, for which she was photographed at the top of the Empire State Building for the cover of TV Guide.