ROME – “Women try to conform to be accepted,” Italian actress Nancy Brilli said at a press conference Monday at the Vatican. “I do not understand demonizing someone if she doesn’t feel comfortable, and then after the operation feels better. As long as the point is to become what you want and not to follow a standard imposed from outside.”
Brilli was passionately defending the use of cosmetic surgery in response to a working document released by the Pontifical Council for Culture in the lead-up to its Feb. 4-7 plenary assembly. The gathering later this week in Rome is dedicated to “Women’s Cultures: Equality and Difference.” The document provocatively quoted one description of cosmetic surgery as “a burqa made of flesh.”
Brilli had appeared in a video that was also part of the lead-up to the plenary assembly. That video turned out to be so controversial that the English-language version was taken down by the Vatican.
At the press conference, the actress directly challenged Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi, head of the Pontifical Council for Culture and promoter of the women’s initiative. According to the journalists present, he appeared to be mildly embarrassed by the phrase “burqa made of flesh” and commented on the use of cosmetic surgery as “an interesting aspect” of contemporary culture.
The working document, however, explicitly condemns plastic surgery: “‘Plastic surgery is like a burqa made of flesh.’ One woman gave us this harsh and incisive description. Having been given freedom of choice for all, are we not under a new cultural yoke of a singular feminine model? What do we think of women used in advertising and in the mass media?”