Sophie Fontanel poses naked and receives thousands of "Thank you"

On the occasion of the release of her book on naturism, Sophie Fontanel agreed to pose in the pages of ELLE. A magnificent series that has generated a wave of enthusiasm while women's bodies are a taboo subject after 50 years.

"These photos are incredible and the words that accompany them put balm in the hearts of women", "We are moving forward, it's gratifying", "Naked and approved", "Bravo! », « Divine », « What audacity! “, and “Thank you” by the hundreds, by the thousands. This flood of enthusiastic reactions is a measure of the tsunami of benevolence that overwhelmed journalist and influencer Sophie Fontanel after she posed nude in our pages in October. An unprecedented photo session to accompany the release of her new book "Capital of gentleness" (Editions Seghers) in which she recounts her experience of naturism on the island of Levant and the reconquest of her nudity.

“We also have the right to be there, in majesty”

“I received thousands of comments and private messages, confirms Sophie Fontanel. Women who tell me how good it makes them to see me posing naked at my age. There are also a lot of men. Like Stéphane who wrote to her: “Slowly, a small revolution is beginning, women's bodies have the right to exist in something other than the usual diktat. So many positive reactions that make her forget "the small 3% of negative and very violent comments with poo or vomit emojis telling me that I am degrading the image of women", laughs the journalist who continues: "I m I imagined that there would be reactions, but the shock wave confirms an intuition: a 59-year-old woman naked, completely natural, who poses with pride and also a touch of humor, that never happens. We are ashamed of our shrinking youth, and we make our bodies invisible. And it does us mostly good to see that we also have the right to be there, in majesty, like Harvey Keitel in "The Piano Lesson". »

For Marie Charell, journalist and author of "Who's afraid of old women? (Editions Les Pérégrines), Sophie Fontanel “opened the way on this subject of the aging of women. She shows that in the end it can be not only banal and well-lived, but even beautiful. Already famous for having made her white hair a transgressive and feminist signature, she is not the first however to evoke this invisibilization of elderly female bodies, or simply not conforming to the criteria of beauty with which society, pop culture or fashion.

Excluded from the “good chick market”

Simone De Beauvoir already broached the subject in “La Vieillesse”, an essay published in 1970. Then, in 1972, Susan Sontag pointed out this injustice in an article entitled “The Double Standard of Aging”. More recently, the essayist Mona Chollet deciphered in her bestseller "Sorcières" the fear and the hatred that mature women arouse and the way in which they are put on the bench, excluded from the "market of the good girl" as written Virginia Despentes. “The vocabulary used to designate older women is always very pejorative,” continues Marie Charrel. After the menopause, it is the double penalty between sexism and ageism because mature men do not undergo the same treatment. “You just have to see the dump of insults that Corinne Masiero suffered when she undressed on the Cesar stage. A woman over 50 who reveals herself is immediately violently punished. This terror of aging is also perfectly integrated by women, and very early on, to the point that they are the main consumers of cosmetic surgery, as shown by a study commissioned in 2019 by "Le Parisien" (18-34 year olds are now more surgery than the 50-60 age group). “We don't have a positive model of older women on which to project ourselves,” confirms Marie Charrel. In the cinema, they disappear from the screen after 50 years, or are completely redone. "When Yann Moix says he can't desire a woman of my age, it's probably because he doesn't see one", also analyzes Sophie Fontanel. Latest example denounced by social networks: the film “Eiffel” featuring Gustave Eiffel (Romain Duris, 47 years old) and his childhood sweetheart (Emma Mackey, only 25 years old).

Fortunately, in line with the body positive movement, which campaigns for the representation of bodies that do not conform to popular stereotypes (most often that of a young, thin white girl), many mature women are taking responsibility on social networks and even in advertising campaigns, like Caroline Ida who poses in her underwear for the Darjeeling campaign this fall. A rare picture. And politics. A thrill that Marie Charrel confirms: “Many of them speak or write books on menopause, sexual pleasure. They are also more experienced, freer, more serene and claim it. The lines move. »

"It's beautiful, the softness of a body that is no longer victorious"

“If we see more of us in tank tops with our wrinkled arms and we are found cool, we will all get used to it, adds Sophie Fontanel. Me, I'm a thin person, but like anyone who ages, there is a heaviness. If I sit down, it spreads! I have always refused this story of false youth, of being very muscular, of doing Botox. Of course, I let everyone do what they want, but those who age well have just made peace with the obligation to be eroticized, to be validated by an outside gaze. It's beautiful, the sweetness that emanates from a body that is no longer victorious. »

However, for Sophie Fontanel, this photo session also has the air of victory, of revenge taken on a past trauma: a rape in adolescence which has, in a certain way, put her at a distance from her own flesh. “The photo taken from behind made me horribly uncomfortable because it shows the place where I was injured. It hurt me to expose it but I finally accepted that it passes by telling me that it was precisely the subject. A way of reclaiming my nudity. Besides, people thank me for having had the courage to reveal my skin after what happened to me when I was younger. They understood, they made the connection. Because you have to be strong to show yourself naked. These reactions are the ones that upset me the most. " And U.S. too.

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