samedi 1 septembre 2007

Letter from Switzerland

Je suis probablement la seule genevoise à avoir une colonne mensuelle (Letter from Switzerland) dans un magazine du Koweit : Rabaa (les lettre de son prénom sont les mêmes que dans le mien, a, b, r) est mon amie, et rédactrice en chef de ce féminin glamour.

Dearest Rabaa

I would like to share with you a few thoughts about beauty. Indeed, I have been invited at the 3rd International Symposium of French Philosophy, the theme of which was beauty. I gave a talk entitled “Beauty of men, beauty of women, similarities and differences”, and also had the opportunity to attend many other intersting talks. The beauty of ideas was everywhere… and indeed, I proposed that one similarity between beauty of women and beauty of men was the beauty of their ideas, their values, their intelligence. Women and men have the same ability to create concepts, to invent new ideas, to follow their own values. Another similarity is that it has been shown that men spend as much time in front of their mirror as women – with the only distinction that they close the door to do so – at least according to a famous plastic surgeon in New York, who treats both men and women… funny, isn’t it ?

What about the differences then? I think that overall, men enjoy much more freedom with respect to their approach to beauty than we do as women. We appear to be more dependent upon the social criteria which define, in your culture as well as in mine, what is beautiful and what is not. And indeed, depending on the studies, scientific reports indicate that only between 4 and 16% of women feel they are beautiful. In contrast, all the men I have interviewed (you certainly remember the book I published two years ago on the beauty of men) – yes, all of them thought they were indeed beautiful. And if not gorgeous, they certainly had at least one particular part of their face or body they thought was outstanding. For these men, beauty is without normative criteria, it’s individual and free. We should all be free alike…

Another very touching aspect we discussed during this symposium was the beauty of handicapped people. I don’t remember whether I told you that I support in Geneva an organisation called Handiculture, which every year elects a Miss Handicap. When I first met the people who started this association, I was impressed by their aims: they want handicapped women not only to be integrated in the society, but to be beautiful and proud. I just published a few months ago my latest book on the subject of Handicap, of which the last chapter is dedicated to Handicap and Beauty. I mention among other exceptional and exceptionally beautiful handicapped women, Brenda Costa, the gorgeous model for the perfume Shalimar by Guerlain. She also wrote a book about her own story, entitled beauty of Silence – because indeed, she was born death – which does not prevent her to start her book with this words: I have always been lucky. And here are the comments of Alison Lapper, the handicapped woman who was the model, handicapped and pregnant, for the beautiful statue by Marc Quinn you may admire in Trafalgar Square in London: “I regard this statue as a modern tribute to feminity, disability and motherhood. The sculpture makes the ultimate statement about disability: that it can be as beautiful and valid form of being as any mother “ – as any other did I add.

I admire the freedom handicapped people are able to take today towards their own beauty. We should go the same path and be at least as good…. And if you and your readers were interested in providing some support to Handiculture, that would be fabulous, even more so that handicapped women from Arabic countries are many in the next contest for Miss Handicap !

In the meantime, I wish you all the best of freedom and beauty, to you, your daughters, your family and all your readers!

With love Forever

Publié dans Bariqaldana, septembre 07

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