Tripped and Fell into the Zeitgeist

I first posted this back in August 2009, but the front page story about the 60th anniversary of the photo “American Girl in Italy” seems to have people stumbling across my old blog. The visit numbers are pretty high today.

So, for fun, I decided to reblog the old post.

This post doesn’t feature the same photo, but it’s along the same lines.

And away we go:


Hanging in the ladies room at a restaurant where The Good Man and I eat quite a bit is the below:

It is “Gli Italiani si Voltano – Milano – 1954” by Mario de Biasi.

The title means, according to BabelFish, “The Italians turn themselves”.

Here’s the poster (click for a large version)

I am utterly fascinated by this photograph. I first started looking at it closer, because my best friend and I are talking about a girl’s trip to Italy next year.

We’ve all heard the stories, right? Is this what Italy is all about?

I have no idea the story behind this photograph, but along with being totally can’t-take-my-eyes-off it intrigued, it also scares the hell out of me.

It’s so…visceral. The look on the faces of all the men… You are pretty sure you know what they are thinking. And she, dressed in white, little Red Riding Hood plunges, fearlessly, into the pit of wolves.

The guy to her left, with his bottom lip tucked into his teeth TOTALLY thinks he’s got a chance. I mean, that dude is pretty sure he’s going to score. Which makes me hate him.

The guy to her right on the scooter looks skeptical. Perplexed. Dare I say, scholarly? For that reason, he’s the one I’m into. I’d choose him.

I have no idea who the woman is or what she looks like from the front, but my god, that kind of male attention is both craved and rejected by women.

How can she be so confident walking into that? Does she possess the certainty of a truly beautiful woman? Is she actually terrified but hides it well? Is she an Italian woman and thus used to ignoring this kind of stuff?

It conflicts me. I’m not a feminist. It doesn’t make me angry like “she deserves more respect!”

But I’m also not an old fashioned gal either of the “boys will be boys” fey sort of excuse making.

I can’t quite cipher out what it is that gets to me about this photograph. But oh, it gets to me.

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  • Ephraim F. Moya


    At first glance I thought that was Kim Kardashian.

    It reminded me of an old Bob Hope trip to entertain the troops with Marilyn Monroe. There was a scene in that wherein she was introduced and the whole audience rose and ran towards her. To her great credit she didn’t panic but just waited for them to get to her. Just the weight of the throng of men could have hurt her but they all stopped just in time.

    I couldn’t find the exact scene but picture all the audience in this one rushing the stage.

    El Viejo

  • Debby

    Back in a time and place when curvaceousness was truly appreciated in women [pre-Twiggy]. I don’t know, maybe in Italy it still is.

    • Karen Fayeth

      Hi Debby – It is hard to see the boy-bodied women in so many media places that have become the standard of beauty. I love seeing old photos of Marilyn Monroe who was rumored to have worn a size 16. Love it!

  • Patric

    It’s not *Gianni*, it’s Mario de Biasi. The woman on the picture is Moira Orfei, a very popular circus artist and actress. She was used to this kind of male attention.

    @ Debby
    Curvaceousness is still appreciated by italian men. But this kind of attention has some backdraws.

    Greetings from Rome.

    • Karen Fayeth

      Hi Patric – You are absolutely correct and I have fixed my mistake in the post.

      Thanks for the comment and for stopping by!

  • Patrick Strei

    Yes this one is a classic. Early slutwalk? And your comments relate well to what I see as the conflict that the slutwalk phenomenon attempts to address: a woman,s rght to express her attractiveness, even sexuality, and what is allowable in termr of men’s response to it.

    Me, I’ve always relied on simple good manners…or tried to!

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