If you have any interest in world wide stamps (or you happen to be one of our French members, Bonjour!), then you have certainly seen a Marianne stamp. They feature the allegorical French heroine Marianne who stands for the ideals of liberty and reason. Her visage, as imagined by countless artists since the late 1700s can be seen in statuary, seals, famous paintings and many, many stamps.
The newest design of this iconic stamp is causing a bit of a kerfuffle. According to the artist, Olivier Ciappa, he based the design off of many strong women, but mostly on a Ukrainian feminist activist who has been granted asylum in France, Inna Shevchenko.
As a leader of (FYI, lots of breasts on display at this link; so NSFW) Femen, a radical feminist group, Shevchenko participates in topless protests of religious and other conservative activities. "For me, Marianne, who is represented bare-breasted, would probably have been a Femen in 1789 (the French Revolution) because she fought for the Republic's values -- liberty, equality and fraternity," Ciappa said. However, not everyone agrees, namely, the people in the organizations that Femen tends to protest. There's a whole stink going on about it.
Without these protests about a protestor (haha), I don't think anyone would know or care who the main basis for the stamp image is. Thanks to the grumbling, I now know all about Femen, a group I'd never heard of, and in my opinion, it doesn't even look that much like Inna Shevchenko. I think the stamp is quite nice. In fact, it was the winning design chosen by the youth of France. It reminds me of a Disney princess, and, since 15 and 16-year-olds picked the design, that seems appropriate. Disney princesses are, after all, also allegories.