Have you ever seen this picture? This unstaged photo was taken in 1951, 60 years ago this month, in Florence, Italy. The title is “American Girl in Italy” and, while iconic, there has long been controversy over whether it was staged. The photographer and its subject have always sworn that it was not. And I, for one, believe them.
What brought this picture to my attention now was an article posted today on Yahoo!. In commemoration of the shot’s sixtieth birthday, its subject, Ninalee Craig, appeared on the “Today” show. I thought this was funny:
In her “Today” appearance, Craig spoke about how, despite what some might say, the photo isn’t a “symbol of harassment.” Craig insists that the image is “a symbol of a woman having an absolutely wonderful time.”
Absolutely, if by “absolutely wonderful time” you mean ogled, gawked at, propositioned, harangued, goosed. I guess what some call “harassment” others call “flattery.”
Having lived in Italy for some time, I have no difficulty believing that the photo was not staged (in fact, I would probably have more difficulty believing Craig’s later statement: “None of those men crossed the line at all.” Maybe not 60 years ago, but I doubt an attractive twenty-three-year-old girl would be so lucky today).
The fact is, Italian men act exactly this way. Openly. Brazenly. Unapologetically. I guess there is something to be said for the complete abandonment of subtlety. Refreshing, if you don’t mind being slapped in the face, I guess.
How do you think this same behavior would fly over this side of the pond? Next time I’m out on the street, and I see an attractive woman, I am going to whistle, stare openly and lupinely, and shout “hey blondie, how beautiful you are! I’d like to…”
I’ll let you know how that goes.