Brigitte Bardot appeared in over 40 films in the 1950s and ’60s, most notably Godard’s Contempt as well as her breakout film, Roger Vadim’s And God Created Woman; however she was not known for her acting talents, her ability to create a character, as much as for her to-be-looked-at-ness, as the film theorists would frown and say.
She knew how to strike a pose, how to highlight her eyes, how to part her lips, and she certainly wasn’t shy about showing her body. Popularly referred to as a ‘sex kitten’ by the paparazzi, she did not hide the fact that she had many sexual relationships. “I leave before being left. I decide.” Also known for her singing duet with Serg Gainsbourg, Je T’aime, she accentuated the music with breathy moans and hence furthered the conception of her profound sexuality.
Bardot retired from the entertainment industry in the early ’70s and devoted herself to the cause of animal rights. “I gave my beauty and my youth to men. I am going to give my wisdom and experience to animals.” She created a foundation and has waged many battles since, including those against bull-fighting, seal-hunting and the slaughter of dolphins.
Dee, the protagonist in my novel The Bad Side, is inspired by Brigitte Bardot and her foundation. She wants to be an inspector for the foundation and writes to Ms. Bardot, receiving the following reply:
Thank you so much for your lovely letter. I am so sad to tell you that you must live in France to be an inspector for the Brigitte Bardot Foundation. I know you will always be a friend to me and the animals all over the world. I wish your life to be filled with love always.
While Dee is disappointed by this response, she is fascinated by Bardot’s lipstick signature.
There was a lipstick kiss at the bottom, the lips slightly apart. I touched it, my pinkie just against the red. It was real. The lips had made a mark on the back of the folded page. I read the letter again and folded it and slipped it neatly back into the envelope and then opened it again and peered at the lips. I wanted mine to be like hers. I stole a lipstick from Nani and kissed a blank piece of paper. It didn’t look like anything, just a messy smudge. I tried again, pressing less. They still weren’t much, just lines. I kissed my arm and then the mirror. I did it all along the edge of the glass and looked at myself through the marks. My face was surrounded by my kisses. I liked that. But then I couldn’t get the smudges off and got in trouble for that.
Researching Brigitte Bardot for the book was quite interesting. While a great many continue to be enamored by her image, she has remained distant. Is that what it is to be a sex goddess?