‘The Disappearance of My Mother’

“Let’s get this out of the way: I am no longer beautiful – and it has been one of the great blessings of my life.” Benedetta Barzini

In the making of this 2019 documentary filmed by her son over the course of several years, Italian supermodel, mother of four, journalist/professor/activist, Marxist and finally ‘Women of a Certain Age Muse’ Benedetta Barzini’s wish to simply “just disappear” has, in a sense, been lost forever. The irony of this of course is, by no means lost on her-proving once again (as if we needed more) that a mother’s love knows no bounds.

Benedetta and her son Benjamino Barrese

One could be tempted to dismiss Barzini’s Garbo-esque desire to become ‘invisible’ with a ‘Sure, after 7 decades of leading the type of life that so often accompanies the gifts of exceptional physical beauty, you’ve now simply tired of the limelight’ but Barzini’s intriguing history and magnetic personality are far too complex and deeply layered to write off that easily.

What a face this woman has. And a mind to match.

Born into an extremely wealthy Italian family Benedetta lived on an entirely different floor of the NY apartment building in which she resided with her mother. For the most part she was raised by a succession of nannies & governesses and presented to her mother but once a week with little more interaction than to exchange a “Bonjour”. Her Italian born mother “hated everything Italian” to the point of not allowing her daughter to speak her native language at home, where only French and English were permitted. It was not a happy childhood. In her teenage years Benedetta became anorexic, a condition she has said in interviews from which one is never really cured but rather learns to control. She also lost her 1/2 brother to a botched politically motivated terrorist attack when he was 40 (he was attempting to set off a bomb) As I said, there’s a lot more to this woman’s story than a beautiful face.

But I don’t wish to lead you astray- as none of this is mentioned in the film. It is simply a quiet glimpse into the complex, loving relationship between a mother and son whose opposing opinions on the value of capturing images and lives and therefore memories in photos and film create an occasionally difficult but nonetheless captivating to watch documentary.

Particularly appealing is B.B.’s utter lack of vanity throughout the film, especially given all the recent social media talk and memes (in much needed humour of course) about greying roots and general beauty maintenance or lack thereof in ‘The Time of Corona’ lockdown. And I do mean utter as you’ll see at the very end.

Also fun is an adorable scene where her old modeling pal Lauren Hutton stops by for a visit and scolds Barrese for not putting his camera down.


Isn’t it so nice to see a smile on the runway?!

Still ruling the runway decades after her first Vogue cover.

I’m sure if you’re anything like me (and you probably are because you’re here reading this 🙂 ) you will want to delve into Benedetta’s story more.

I do believe this might well be the image that finally convinces me to just let my hair have its own life and let me get on with mine.
What better timing than now, I ask you??
“Who cares if you have wrinkles? Your responsibility is to do something with the life that you were given – and if that life is reflected in the lines of your face, so much the better.” Benedetta Barzini

The documentary is available to rent or purchase on Apple TV

I’ll be back with more suggestions of things to do or watch or read or… whatever.

Have a great rest of the weekend. Stay safe and try to remain positive. #inthistogether

xx Slim

46 Comments

  1. This will be fascinating. Thank you for sharing this with us. I have several friends who have let their hair go gray and it’s lovely. This natural red head isn’t ready for gray yet.
    Haha.
    Karen

  2. Welcome back Slim! You have been missed. Can’t wait to rent the video. Thank you for the heads up.
    Smiles, Ruth Wasser

  3. Thank you for your welcome post. I hope I will be able to view this film. I do not have Apple TV. Have a safe and fruitful lockdown.

  4. She makes aging appealing. I think Italian women are gorgeous. Every time I go there I am struck by their naturalness and almost rugged beauty. Thank you for this write up. I can’t wait to watch this. Hope you are doing well.

  5. YES…you have been missed! What a realistic, sensible, and brave stance from which we can all learn. Keep’em coming Slim!
    Cheers

  6. Slim, Slim, Slim! We are soooo happy to see you back! Can you tell! Wow!, you were so part of my almost daily routine, inspiration, chuckles…IG was just not the same…hope to see more of you soon and that all is well….from a former CA girl (woman) now living in the Epicenter(!) but doing fine, hope you are too!

    • Thank you Marsha! It feels nice and FUN to be back! Best wishes to you for staying healthy, safe and sane! xx

  7. Welcome back and you’ve been missed! Can’t wait to dive into your recommendation. Being a loyal fan of your posts for years, I also know we both married April 24, 1988….Here’s to 32 years 🥂

  8. Thanks for the recommendation, will definitely watch this week– I love documentaries especially biographies of lesser known people. I love that she embraced her wrinkles– that in fact they tell your story, and are not something to erase.

    • It’s interesting because they don’t really go too deeply into her story. For example I don’t think they mention that she has four children, or if she ever married, etc. I agree with you- I love how she has embraced her wrinkles. Though with that bone structure it’s a little easier, isn’t it?!

  9. Amen, you’re back Slim ! Please keep writing, you add such brightness to a dark world right now

  10. There is always a story behind a story that we just don’t know. This one is fascinating! Thanks for sharing.

  11. I’m so happy to find you in my email box this morning.Thank you!

    She’s a fascinating woman with much wisdom to share. I’m anxious to see the film. Her wise face makes me rethink that neck lift I’m contemplating;)

    I hope you’re all doing well. It was a welcome hoot to see Dennis on tv.

    We truly are #inthistogether
    Xx

  12. So timely as I covered my roots just yesterday. It’s a question which seems to plague me, letting it go gray or keep up the mask. Some day, I trust, the answer will make itself clear, Glad to see one of your posts again. Your musings are always thoughtful. Will certainly check out the film.

  13. Yes, I can relate. The aging process takes time to adapt. Still working on it. Accepting who I am in appearance also helps me understand where my heart really is. Purpose, future and relationships change now. Life gets more simple, or does it? We must do our best to savor this time. Looking forward to the documentary.

  14. Thank you for the post. The documentary really sounds engaging. Reminds me of Candice Bergen, who was always celebrated for her great beauty. She wanted to be known for more than her good genes and fine cheekbones. She made a point to travel, learn photography, improve her acting skills, marry and have children. Bergen famously said: “It takes a long time to become a person.”

  15. Love your posts, now I’m totally interested in this beautiful woman’s life and I had never heard of her.
    Please keep writing and sharing what you’ve read and learned. And would love to hear the story of your life!
    💗

    • I hope you find the documentary as interesting as I did, even though you are not familiar with her. I am going to keep writing now that I have more time on my hands 🙂

  16. Thank you for this interesting story you shared! Looking forward to it. And , it’s nice to hear from you!

  17. Girl… welcome back to the world! Ur posts
    Always make my day because u r so
    Open and honest🐥. AND by the way, I am a Gray Girl and those strands remind me of times gone by and r my “service stripes”! A life of tough times and the good times… it’s all part of one’s life!
    Keep posting… u have been missed!
    MU

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