Friday, January 11, 2008

Naked Icon

This week, icon Simone de Beauvoir would have turned 100 years old. And, as lit-fans across the world celebrated her achievements and status, much of the attention has been on Le Nouvel Observateur. The weekly magazine published on its cover a naked picture of Madame de Beauvoir, to headline a tribute to the anniversary. Feminists, mostly, have roared against the magazine cover complaining the image reduced Simone de Beauvoir and didn’t reflect at all the immensity of her work.

Perhaps. But De Beauvoir’s outstanding writings were about the reaffirmation of women. And really, it wasn’t only about their rights and freedoms but also about their choices. And even though women are purposely or inadvertently almost always judged on their looks, they are not reduced to them. I don’t mind that people gawk at Andrea Jung’s beauty, for example. Because while you do, the Avon CEO is making power moves and financial strides. Noting her beauty doesn’t make her less of a tycoon.

I believe Le Nouvel Obs’ naked picture of Madame De Beauvoir was meant as a compliment and as testament to her undeniable feminine essence. The world knew of her incomparable literary prowess and her sharp insight and intellectual domination. Now, it also knows of her timeless beauty.

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