Clearly I did not purchase this photo for its beauty. There are smudges which might be the thumbprints of someone who possessed her long ago. There are mysterious pen strokes above her left shoulder, as if someone had once used her as blotting paper.
No, I purchased the photo for her beauty. Her statuesque aplomb, her black Jantzen swimsuit, the smoldering gaze sneering from beneath her swim cap, hands and arms poised to dare and invite, to both shield and show. How the poor photographer must have trembled before such an aquatic warrior!
The nose is short and broad – a little pugnacious, too. Her neck is surprisingly graceful: one would think that a bulkier structure would be needed to support such a face full of fight, full of defiance, full of the devil's own mischief.
This is no androgynous flapper, pallid from long nights under artificial lights, emaciated from meals of cocktails – sidecars, martinis, manhattans, Cubans, gin slings, Bennetts, fizzes, millineums, rickeys – with a figure flattened and squeezed into slips of sequined silk. No, indeed – her limbs are rounded and substantial; her figure bold, bulky and magnificent. She is proud of her curves; she wears a belt to accent a healthy waistline. And faded sepia cannot disguise the rosy color in her cheeks.
Sheer black stockings roll down calves of an undeniable shapeliness, emphasizing their slender strength. One leather-shod foot is tilted upwards, the toe bent against the floor in a pose that could have come from a magazine, a movie, a mannequin…but most likely it came from her own madcap mind.
This is no Botticelli Venus, gliding like a blossom on an opened scallop. This girl punched her way out of a closed shell into the world; she brushed away the nacreous crumbs brave enough to clutch to her broad shoulders and then strode onto shore, where kingdoms awaited her.
She must have stood like a powerful and curving tree, the ocean currents swirling around her calves, the tides seeking other avenues in their constant advance towards land.
This Amazon possessed no Achilles heel.