Shaden Adela, by Cynthia Frebour

The first time I went to my lover’s family house in Saint-Tropez, I got struck by an image. Instead of a picture of me, a gigantic poster of a topless Brigitte Bardot was hanging on top of his bedframe. Mhm, interesting. 

“Do you like it?” he asks. 

“What, the boobs?” 

“No, the poster! ” 

“Nope.” Sometimes, you have to lie.

In my family, where it’s considered tacky to love French Cinema as much as I do, Brigitte Bardot has gradually become “Brigitte Barjot”. Barjot enough to have a) been fined six times by the French government for inciting racial hatred against the Muslim community,  b) condemned Pope Francis, THE POPE, for not going VEGAN,  c) stated that she “hate[s] feminism” and was a “masculanist”  in a recent interview with the Daily Mail. 

“Well well, it seems like B.B.’s change of status from idol to idiot hasn’t crossed the Mediterranean yet. I don’t blame you: Why listen when you can look?” my aunt said while serving herself a bowl gazpacho, I WISH, I had poisined. 

Truth is, I might be a bit tacky. I fucking love this picture. I’ve endured through Roger Vadim’s plotless And God Created Woman six-times just to see B.B. transforming into a sex-goddess when dancing to the sound of Carioca. Years ago, I even attempted to reproduce the dialogue of The Contempt, in which naked Camille asks to her lover if he likes every part of her body before sadly concluding that he loves her entirely. Unfortunately my ex-lover  wasn’t Paul Javal. When he answered “You’re beautiful” instead of a simple “Yes”, I understood it was time to move on. 

B.B. gives you two choices: you either want to be with her or be her. If you meet someone who claims they’re indifferent, voilà…you’ve spotted a liar.  Even her initials are sexy! My initials are… SScary.   And God Created Woman perfectly alludes to it: B.B. is not a woman, she is the embodiment of a whole gender. Is this problematic for a number of reasons I’m too lazy to enumerate? Of course. Am I a bad feminist for participating in the objectification of a woman just because I’m in love with her? I’m at peace with that.

But in Saint-Tropez, things got confusing. Every night, as things started getting heated,  I felt her presence in our room. As surprising as it may sound, it wasn’t very pleasant. In between two sensual kisses, I’d “accidentally” make eye-contact. Her voluptuous breast acted as a constant reminder that I was generously gifted with a “planche-à-pain” between my neck and stomach. From her royal place looking down on our love nest, Madame Bardot’s cat eyes were suddenly judging my now-failed attempts to be as-sensual-as-her. This once again took me to all of the times I’ve seen her naked on the big screen. Look how little her body is, how little space she takes. She’s such a woman but such a… baby. 

I bet she makes every skinny French man feel like THE MAN. Hey, remember when Simone de Beauvoir coined her as the ultimate “child-woman” in her long-ass analysis about Brigitte Bardot and the Lolita Syndrome?  “The adult woman now inhabits the same world as the man, but the child-woman moves in a universe which he cannot enter (…) she retains the perfect innocence that is attributed to a mythical childhood.”  Woah…I should have never taken that class on Feminist Theory. I’m fucked for the rest of my life.  Do I make him feel like THE MAN the way B.B. would?  Have I experienced too much to be as desirable? Can I shrink, just for one night? Wait, but I’m like… 23. Why do I suddenly feel like a crippled grandmother? IS THIS WHAT BECOMING AN ADULT WOMAN FEELS LIKE? AM I THE BRIGITTE BARDOT OF A 50 YEARS OLD WOMAN? Oh my god. SHADEN, STOP THINKING ABOUT SIMONE DE BEAUVOIR DURING SEX. FORGET ABOUT BRIGI…

“You’ll never be like me, what are you even doing in Saint-Tropez, you little-Moroccan-Lebanese- Muslim-feminist, meat-eater-and-sheep-killer.” 

“Yo, it’s not because I think that And God created Woman sucks that you have to be rude okay? I always got your back! Come with me to Morocco, I swear that Muslim people are very nice and that tagine à la viande is really really really good. Let’s go to New York and read Alice Walker, Bell Hooks, LAURA MULVEY… I WANT TO KNOW HOW YOU REALLY FEEL!” 

“Never” she said with a calculated indifference before turning her perfect back at me. 

And just like that, I divorced Brigitte Bardot. Somebody throw this poster away, I never want to see her again. Did you know she’s a fausse-blonde? Loser. 

“Can we please turn off the light?” I implored with an unexpected irritation.

“Is everything okay? ” He answered while kindly making B.B. disappear into darkness. Poor guy, performing in vain while his girlfriend is having a non-consensual threesome with him and a poster. 

“Everything’s perfect.” Sometimes, you have to lie.

I got woken up at 5 a.m by the sound of a high-pitched orgasm. Let me tell you something: you are as sick as your nightmares.  My boyfriend was cheating on me, in front of me, with all of my blond friends. I’m a model. I have a lot of blond friends. Angry at my subconscious, I decided to go on a looooong walk in the village. I just wanted to relax from my overly-stressful life, but then again, God had others plans.

Somebody save me from my misery.  Not her, not again.  At the boulangerie, pharmacy, tabac, winery, gas station, supermarket, AT THE BUTCHER…SHE’S EVERYWHERE!!  My friend! For once in your life, can you stop masturbating and listen to this woman? How do you think she feels about her picture sitting next to a Halal Kebab Meat? And why does Loic, Saint-Tropez’s coolest cheesemaker, have a massive poster of B.B. embellishing his refrigerator?  Because she’s the “symbol of Saint-Tropez?” Yeah yeah. 

On the line to buy the most overpriced brie in the world, a strange and uncomfortable sentiment, somewhere between wisdom and anger, gradually invaded my body. Aaaaaaaaha… Loic knows that it’s thanks to her, that he makes 12k a month. Just like back in the days when  more than a woman, she became a “phénomène”… more than being an objectified, B.B. has now been city-fied. Saint-Tropez, a city she now hates, sells her image to attract tourists she hates even more. Bravoooo! 

“A photograph can be an instant of life captured for eternity that will never cease looking back at you.” she once said. I’ve ignored, but never forgotten this sentence. Is Brigitte Bardot the real-life Cléo de 5 à 7? Mhmm. I’ve turned the question upside down, considering every film I’ve watched, book I’ve read, and all the people I would offend. It all came down to the following conclusion: 

“Loic? ”

“Oui?”

“You are so tacky.”