Ninalee Allen Craig

Ninalee Allen Craig, the woman at the center of an iconic photo by photojournalist Ruth Orkin, “American Girl in Italy,” died last Tuesday in Toronto of complications from lung cancer.

American Girl in Italy

The photo was printed in Cosmopolitan magazine as an illustration for the article, “When you travel alone…”  and under it, the caption: “Public admiration . . . shouldn’t fluster you. Ogling the ladies is a popular, harmless and flattering pastime you’ll run into in many foreign countries. The gentlemen are usually louder and more demonstrative than American men, but they mean no harm.”

Craig, who said she was “used to” this kind of “admiration” from men, laughed off suggestions they were harassing her.  She said she strode past them with her head held high, as though she were Beatrice, the woman for whom Dante descends into hell to save from Lucifer.

I’m sorry to disagree with Ms. Craig, but I have never looked at her in this photo without thinking she was terrified, and rightfully so.

Photo via The Washington Post

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