Brigitte Bardot is celebrated for her contribution to world cinema, the music industry and as an animal rights activist. She is not just living a long life but a large one too. Not until her dreams of becoming a celebrity were fulfilled did she know that she was meant for something bigger, something that would change the purpose of her life.
The actress went through tough times but eventually found her calling. And when that happened, her life really turned around and for the best. She also realized that stardom was truly not what it looked like but a nightmare in reality.
Introducing Brigitte Bardot
Brigitte Bardot is a legendary icon who rose to fame in the 50s. Her style, looks, and beauty baffled people then and continues to do so even today. The actress is way more than her beauty and face. She displayed all her talents on-screen during her time as a performer.
From acting in theatre, to dancing to posing for photoshoots she could do it all. She even turned a singer and produced some fantastic songs in the 60s and the 70s. However, she realized that there was more to life than show business and delved into the higher calling soon after.
Born In A Prosperous Family
Brigitte was born in a well-to-do family in Paris, France on September 28, 1934. Her parents were very successful and both of them very highly disciplined. Her father, Louis Bardot was an engineer and a successful one too. He worked with Brigitte’s grandfather in their family business. Brigitte’s father was raised in a strict catholic home and she was meant to follow the same tradition.
Her mother’s name was Anne-Marie Mucel, who was also very strict with rules when it came to managing her household. Although money was never an issue in Brigitte’s life, his lifestyle was rather different. The environment she grew up in had a strange effect on her.
Rules And Lifestyle
Like most parents, Bardot’s parents too thought that they would decide what was best for their children. The girls grew up with strict rules that eventually took a toll on them. They were taught good manners, were supposed to wear proper attire, learn table manners and their parents would even choose who they would play with.
This was hard to digest for Brigitte, but she kept all of this inside her until one day she decided that she could not do that anymore. Having said that, it was also her mother, whose support was a constant companion in Brigittes journey towards self-discovery.
Brigitte Was A Talented Girl
When Brigitte was seven, she was admitted to a private school by her parents. Brigitte a.k.a B.B would attend school for three days in a week and for the rest of the three days, she would practice ballet at a local French studio. Her younger sister, Marie-Jean too was put in the same routine, but she was less interested to study dance.
B.B’s mother saw that she had the talent and advised her to stick to music and dance throughout her childhood. The little girl, however, chose a different path when it came to deciding her career. A path that no one had imagined for her!
The Twist In The Tale
Brigitte Bardot learned dancing throughout her childhood, but an opportunity presented itself when she was 15.
The Cold War was showing its effects all throughout Europe, to earn some extra income B.B’s mother decided to put up a fashion show with her friends. Brigitte’s Mother, Anne-Marie who was also known as Toty would design hats, and she decided that she would display them during the fashion show.
During the show, B.B danced to a classical theme to each of the new apparel that was presented, it was a deadly combination and the show immediately became successful. Photographs were taken and everyone was noticing Brigitte.
Being Featured On Magazine Covers
Brigitte’s dance at her mother’s show had opened up new doors for her. She featured in the Elle magazine on the cover of their May 1949 issue at the young age of 15. B.B’s dancing habits came quite handy to her as it helped her in her modeling career. Modeling required correct postures, angles and dietary habits and Brigitte was already familiar with those.
There were only a couple of years left until she became the beautiful blonde Bardot, who would decide her career and channelize her own path.
Brigitte Signature Style
Her personality and physical features were why she had a successful modeling career. Brigitte signature look combined of long platinum blonde hair, large doe eyes, and brilliant figure and her gapped tooth. Everyone around her believed that she looked beautiful, but personally, B.B struggled to see it.
She grew up into a smart, talented, hardworking and beautiful human being but she admitted that she felt nothing like that when she was a
child. She could not see this beauty and didn’t quite understand was everyone was talking about.
Grew Up With A Disorder
Throughout her childhood, Brigitte suffered from an eye problem called “amblyopia,” in layman’s language it is called “lazy-eye”. This decreased the vision in her left eye and is also a part of the reason why she felt that she was not pretty. She did not think that she was as beautiful as other women.
Additionally, she was transferred to multiple schools throughout her childhood including one strict private Catholic school. So it actually makes sense that the shift been different environment could have caused her such pain and may have taken a toll on her self-esteem too.
Brigitte admitted to feeling self-conscious. She added that studying in an all-girls school further added to the pressures of comparing one’s self to others. Additionally, she was a shy child, so making friends, was quite a task for her. On top of that, we know that her mother was quite picky about her friends so that further added to her difficulties.
Brigitte admitted that she felt ugly as a child since she always looked so different. However, at that age, little did she know that her life was about to change and in ways, she had least expected.
Becoming A Model From A Dancer
We already know that Bardot has established herself as a dancer on many occasions, in her pre-teens she also attended the prestigious Conservatoire de Paris. For three years, from 1947-1950 she attended the college of dance and music. During this time, she was picked up as a junior model and started doing pretty well for herself. Her talent, beauty, and skills were admired by everyone.
Brigitte, now a teenager, was about to add another skill-set to her resume. In 1952, she met someone who changed her life forever and that person was none other than Roger Vadim.
Becoming An Actress From A Model
Roger Vadim was a full-time journalist and a part-time director. As a screenwriter in France, he thought that Brigitte would be perfect for his film. He immediately made her meet some of the important members of the industry and helped her get auditions quickly.
So in 1952, Bardot bagged her first role in a film called Crazy for Love where she played the role of Javotte Lemoine. After that, her second film was Manina in The Girl in the Bikini. Brigitte’s relationship with Vadim quickly changed from professional to personal, they were both soon in a romantic relationship.
The Start Of Her Rebellious Behavior
Roger Vadim and Bardot had a six-year age difference between them. Although it was not quite a lot, the wedding between the sixteen-year-old to the twenty-two-year-old created havoc. Bardot’s parents were very displeased with her.
Brigitte truly rebelled when she put her head into a place with open flames to threaten her parents to cooperate with her and accept her new relationship. In the year in 1952, she got married to Roger Vadim and landed two roles in a new film.
The Beginning Of Her Acting Career
1952 was the year of Brigitte Bardot, she got married and signed her first two films. In the next year, 1953 Brigitte was featured on Elle again and also signed three films. Another film that changed her career was Act of Love, it was an American film and starred Golden Age star, Kirk Douglas.
The French cinema was proud of their superstar, but at the same time, B.B was getting small roles in American films too. However, it was a year later that she became an international superstar.
Breaking The Record With 20 Films In 4 years
In the year 1955, Brigitte had upped her acting game, she did a total of 5 films that year. The next year marked her 4 years in the industry with her having performed in 20 films. Brigitte knew no one in the film industry, so her achievements were one of a kind and she loved by everyone. Technical, in the industry, she was still a junior since she started acting in her teens.
During her early 20s, B.B turned even more successful. She and her husband Roger Vadim together collaborated for a superhit film, And God Created Woman.
The Film And God Created Woman
This film transitioned Bardot into a sensation. The story was about an 18-year-old orphan who is seductive and falls in love and infatuation between two brothers. Her husband, Roger Vadim, wrote and directed the film and he also played the role of one of the brothers.
However, this film was all about Brigitte, everyone’s eyes were on her. She was a successful dancer, then a model and now with this film, a brilliant actress. The entire world noticed her performance and it was more than B.B had ever imagined.
The Effects Of The Film
The film affected Bardot in two ways. One, it rose her to superstardom, she was admired by the world for her role and acting. Everyone was now taking notice of her talent, beauty, and persona.
Secondly, even though the film was successful, somethings did not work out in her personal life. B.B’s bold choices in life and her decisions got her to where she was. However, it was also one of the reasons for her split with her husband. In 1957, Roger Vadim and Bardot decided to go separate ways.
The Love Triangle
Bardot was having an affair with her And God Created Woman co-star Jean-Louis Trintignant since the filming of the movie.
While she was married to Vadim, Brigitte was also having an affair with Trintignant. The only thing that came between them was the fact that she was married. Additionally, Trintignant was in the military service, so the duo could not visit quite frequently. It was also later revealed that B.B was having romantic relations with French musician Gilbert BĂcaud at the same time.
Vadim’s Words, “I Did Not Invent Her, I Helped Her Blossom”
Even after their divorce Bardot and Vadim remained on good terms. They collaborated on a film a year later and another one a few years later. Vadim titles his memoir Bardot, Deneuve, Fonda and talked about his love life.
For Brigitte, her marriage with Vadim was one of the four, however, their relationship meant a lot to both of them. Without him, she may not have reached where she is now! In an interview in 1986. Vadim said to The Washington Post, “I did not invent Brigitte Bardot, I simply helped her to blossom”.
Brigitte was living the life most women would only imagine. She had everything she needed, films, men, her beauty. She lived-king-sized and luxuriously. However, her personal life was quite different.
Her cinematic stardom did not give her the satisfaction she needed in her personal life. Despite having everything, there was something constantly missing in her life. She dealt with it as far as she could and until she couldn’t anymore.
In 2018, the animal rights activist released her memoir, Tears of Battle: An Animals Rights Memoir, where she shared her feelings about freedom.
She said that in the beginning, she enjoyed that people were talking about her but very quickly it suffocated her and destroyed her. Additionally, after her first divorce, she had a nervous breakdown and spent a few weeks in recovery. The actress also added that the 2 decades that she spent in the industry were worse and she dreaded it. She also added that each time filming began, she would break out with herpes and a simple reading would upset her. she felt as if she were a small kid who was brought to school.
Nobody understands the pressure of being a celebrity. Some of the greatest artists have faced depression and struggled emotionally due to the pressure of the world. The world is constantly judging them and watching every step they take.
Brigitte beautifully explained in her memoir about her battle with herself, she said, “Light attracts us in a way nothing else does; we always dream about seeing something that shinesâ€¦ we are fascinated by success and worldwide popularity.”
Being Called The ‘Bombshell’
In her lifetime, Bardot became a dancer, a model, an actress, and even a singer. But according to her, this was all built on a fake persona, something she could never fully relate to.
She was called the Bombshell and was treated in a similar manner. Photographers and paparazzi found their way everywhere and getting a quite dinner sometimes was impossible for her. People were constantly watching her and linking her with men. There were rumors flying all around about her!
Trying To Lead Normal Life
Bardot was chased by the media wherever she went. It was getting difficult for her to lead a normal life. They would talk about all kinds of stuff and accuse her of things she had never done.
Brigitte said that “I was accused of a whole series of things I had never done. I made every effort in the world to have a normal life and to maintain healthy relationships, but love never mixes well with fame.”
Brigitte was becoming someone she did not recognize and people were getting obsessed with her. Despite receiving a fair amount of appreciation she received an equal amount of criticism too.
At one point, she asked herself as to what she was doing and whether that was making her happy, she also realized that she was meant to do something real!
In her memoir she stated that she asked herself this, “Why should I put myself through so much just to play a role, if everything is fake, everything people say is fake, and if even the scenery is fake?”
B.B’s True Identity Crisis
Bardot, she said that she felt that she was not being true to herself. When she spoke to Vanity Fair, she said “I wasn’t scandalousâ€”I didn’t want to be. I wanted to be myself.”
Brigitte was an actor which meant that the majority of her time involved being fake and portraying a role. For this, she was being objectified and turned into a person she never wanted to become. She faced an identity crisis and did not know who she was and she also did not know who she wanted to be!
The End Of An Era
The Brigitte of 1973 made one of the biggest decisions of her life. After working in the industry for almost two decades, performing in 50 films and releasing over 60 songs in addition to being a successful model and a dancer, she decided to retire!
Well, not retire from life, but retire from the position of an entertainer and a performer and she did this when she was at the top of her career. Her release from the industry did not mean that she was completely off the spotlight, it was just closure to one chapter in her life.
When Brigitte’s 39th birthday arrived, she had officially retired as a performer. She was happy and wanted to dedicate her life to cause, something that was meaningful.
As B.B was taking some time off and making the choices that really mattered to her, she came across something that really touched her. It was going to be something that she was going to be associated with for the rest of her life. Brigitte did not think passionately about acting, so moving away from the industry did not concern her much.
B.B Found Her Calling
Due to her celebrity lifestyle, B.B knew about her impulsive behavior. She realized the real world would be a lot different from her fake one. However, when the deal with the paparazzi got too much and with the media treating her like a hostage, she decided to make the decision of her lifetime.
In her memoir, In Tears of Battle: An Animals Rights Memoir, Brigitte explained why she felt connected with animals. She said that being “the most photographed woman in the world,” and after two decades of dealing with this madness, she actually felt like an animal in the wild. With all of “the high-speed chases with journalistsâ€¦ I know what it feels like to be hunted.”
Fulfilling Her Passion
Bardot lived in a world that continuously had eyes on her. After being preyed on and constantly being judged for everything she did, she felt like it gave her a new perspective and opened new doors for her.
Her love for animals constantly stayed with her throughout her life, but this was the first time she could do something about it. She used her fame and success to fuel her passion to save and protect animals.
Starting A New Life
Most people might think that the act of retiring and then focusing on animals might be random, but that wasn’t the case for Brigitte. She said in her memoir that, “When I said goodbye to this job, to this life of opulence and glitter, images and adoration, the quest to be desired, I was saving my life.”
And even while she was on the sets of the movies and there were stray animals around, she would pick them up and bring them back to the hotel to save them from the pound.
Realizing Her Dream
In an interview with Vanity Fair, Bardot spoke about how the decisions she took earlier in her life changed her perspective on life she added “It’s what I dreamed of. It’s what I always wanted.”
After having lived half her life in sadness and depression, she said being an animal rights activist fulfilled her in every sense. Her retirement from acting led her to dedicate the rest of her life to something she felt proud about. Although she does not completely regret her past choices, her current ones make her extremely happy.
Brigitte discusses both chapters of her life in her memoir, Tears of Battle: An Animals Rights Memoir. She says that both of them are entwined with each other in a unique way and had the first part not taken place. She would never realize how important the second one would be.
She added, “I did, after all, enjoy living as an artist; as a star, I lived something exceptional, and I don’t deny this, but the second era added something to the first.” and mentioned that, “choosing animals tore me from the claws of a miserable future; I had found direction for my lifeâ€¦ Fame is the illusion of power. Taking action gives you back your strength, however, limited it may be.”
Working On Her Passion
When Brigitte said that doing something for animals was her passion, she meant it and did everything in her power to save her cause. She also mentioned several times that she would use her successes as an actress to help her with her project and she did exactly that.
She sold off her many of her personal belongings to generate money for the cause. Many souvenirs, jewelry items such as ruby rings and bracelets were auctioned off too, to raise revenue. and support the animals.
Who Is Brigitte Bardot Now?
Brigitte was a former dancer, model, actress, and musician. She decided to take early retirement from her acting profession to fulfill her passion and to work for a cause that was bigger than her.
She is also someone who lived her life in sadness and decided that it was only her who could turn it around. She works globally to protect and fight for animals and also influences the world in other ways.
She Is Everywhere
Brigitte is not just a performer, she is so much more than that. Many have tried to study her life and have written biographies, memoirs and write-ups about her. Some of those include Brigitte Bardot: The Life, The Legend, The Movies, Bardot, Deneuve, Fonda, and Brigitte Bardot: My Life in Fashion.
She is a style and fashion icon. She has influenced the world in more ways than one. B.B is a talent and skillful human being who has contributed immensely to the betterment of the world.
Bardot is a style icon, he signature style resonates with women even today. Many fashion trends have been derived thanks to her sense of style, one such item of clothing is the “Bardot Top”, it is an off-the-shoulder, low-cut shirt that showcases your stylish neckline.
Additionally, the “Bardot Dress” is a simple dress featuring a “Bardot Top”. Also, her hair-do was a rage around the 60s and the 70s.
Bob Dylan actually gave a tribute to Brigitte in one of his songs. In the 1963 hit, “I Shall Be Free” he talks about putting John, Brigitte Bardot, Sophia Loren, the Swedish actress Anita Eckberg and the American actor Ernest Borgnine in a room together and then the country would become a better place.
We don’t really know what it means, but her admiration was totally understood from those lines.
The Real “Duck Face” Creator
Bardots popular and iconic “pout face”, somewhere makes her the official contributor to the current trend of creating “Duck Faces.” This pose was trendy back in the 70s and the 80s as it is today. In addition to that, several others such as the “Sparrow Face” and the “Fish Gape” have emerged.
Whatever it is, we still want to thank her for her stylish pout!