When starting a book, I skim the synopsis and carry on. So I didn’t realize that the novel The Only Woman In The Room, was about old Hollywood actress Hedy Lamarr. At one point crowned the ‘Most Beautiful Woman In The World’, she came to America to flee her abusive husband Fitz Mandl. An arms dealer to Mussolini and possibly Hitler. Hard to believe, but her tumultuous love life and influence (Vivian Leigh and every classic actress with dark hair, parted down the middle, was sporting The Lamarr) weren’t the most intriguing things about her.
Hedy Lamarr is the reason we have cellphones, GPS, Wi-fi and Bluetooth. She was a brilliant inventor who created frequency hopping, which is the foundation of internet based technology. Hedy wanted to be viewed for her inquisitive mind, her world changing patents. But all anyone ever cared for was her beauty. A sentiment I understand.
Black women as a culture tend to be sexually objectified. On top of that, I’m a being who embraces her sexuality, with barely there clothing if I feel so inclined, and free the nipple proclivities. When people find out how intelligent I am, it throws them off. For this exact reason it’s essential that I’m not objectified, without an objective.
I went to top billing elite specialty schools growing up, where I cultivated an appreciation for critical thinking. I also like wearing short skirts and see through tops. Why can’t women be both? Even still from her time to ours, society is grappling with women as human beings, not a political playground, not an object, not second class citizens.
Women can have both brains and beauty. Do not succumb to being one, or the other. Thank you Hedy Lamarr for your contribution to the world, you never got the recognition you deserved in your lifetime. Your beauty was otherworldly, but had nothing on your intellect.
Photos: Clarence Sinclair Bull and Getty Images