How I’ve been Killed softly…

Now before you read todays post, I highly recommend that you watch the entire (40 min long) presentation/speech by Jean Kilbourne!

I have posted many times about the importance of staying fit, it’s the way I’ve been raised, and it’s the influence of oh so many episodes of The Biggest Loser that I’ve watched. I have also emphasized the importance of eating healthy, of bringing all sorts of vegetables and fruits into your diet, if you don’t believe me – ask my husband. I also have covered a subject as sensitive as violence against women, based on a story of a high school friend of mine. But after watching this I couldn’t help but wonder – Have I also been killed? And killed softly?

I am going to have to say yes to this, admit that I, too, have been influenced by the ads, commercials, the many many TV shows, movies and everything that comes in between.

Growing up in Russia you’d think I was only exposed to the images of healthy looking peasant women, popping babies left and right:

You’re so wrong, I grew up reading Cool Girl, OOOPS! and YES! (if I remember all these titles correctly), an Eastern European version of Teen Vogue and Seventeen:

When we got our first VCR all we had were work out tapes. My mother was extremely obsessed with her self-image, she worked out at the gym 3 times a week after work, I was in 8th grade then. Needless to say I got hooked onto the Cindy Crawford workout videos, as a matter of fact up to this day, her workouts remain some of my favorite ones. Thanks to those workouts I always ran track in high school and college, nothing wrong with being athletic!

I was 16 when I got my first highlights. I was never happy with my hair color, I always thought it was dull and flat. How crazy is it to realize that this was 9 years ago! I haven’t dyed my hair since 2009 and I couldn’t be happier. But yet again, I am thinking of getting high lights this spring (Blake Lively obsession, unhealthy, right?)

Now I have always been anti Botox, Implants and all the other body “alterations”. I remember watching an episode from one of the earlier seasons of Nip/Tuck where a surgeon put the implant in the wrong way, so he then had to take it out, and there is blood and silicone and mess everywhere. I am a B cup and always will be, so I am pretty happy with what I’ve got!

Moving on to the subject of violence – I think some women should stop dressing slutty. I remember the SLUT walk Sam and I came across once walking around Minneapolis. No won’t mean no when you are dressed like a hooker. Growing up at a church we were taught one golden rule that applied to clothes – Would you wear it if you were going to go hang out with Jesus? And by hanging out I don’t mean death or anything, just a usual stroll in the park with the Lord. I am pretty sure Jesus would’ve been proud of my fashion sense, I am 25 and finally know how to dress myself!

Now how did this documentary affected me personally? Well they say step 1 is acknowledgement, and then what? Am I going to stop dressing up, using make up, reading Vogue and trying to achieve the unachievable? NO! Call me stupid, call me anything you want, but when we are walking the streets of Minneapolis my husband is proud he is married to me, everyday he tells me how pretty and sexy I am, and that’s what matters the most. I am sure a lot of you are getting madder at me by the second, especially now that I brought my husband up, but you can tell this same thing to yourself! You don’t need a guy to approve of you! When I lived in Manhattan my hair was two different colors for crying out loud! Yes, I can always say I was trying to pull off the ombre look, but who will I be kidding?

Anyways, it’s everyone’s personal choice whether to be affected by it all, or not, and it all depends on the way you’ve been raised, and what values have been implanted into your brain, because trust me, I never leave the house, unless I think that Jesus would’ve been proud of my outfit ๐Ÿ˜‰











Strangers No More

Out of all Oscar nominated movies, one stood out to me the most. One about Strangers, that were no more. In Israel, there is a school, called Bialik-Rogozin, where students come from no more, nor less, but 48 different countries. It’s a place that welcomes the oppressed, the poor, victims of genocide and political persecution. The only requirement – you need to come with an OPEN HEART! This is the school where “No child left behind” comes to life, because “No child is a stranger”! This school is for Jews, Christians, Muslims, it’s for everyone, as long as you are willing, as long as you are ready, and as long as you want to learn and make an effort.

During my years as a nanny in NYC, I have once put a child on the wrong school bus. Nothing happened, the kid is still alive and kicking, and driving some other nanny insane. And think of it “For most children getting to school is as simple as going around the block” or getting on a school bus, or in a car, and being driven there. “But for others it’s a dangerous journey across hostile borders”.

The documentary “Strangers No More” produced and directed by Karen Goodman and Kirk Simon tells a story of the only school in Israel that opens its’ doors to students like that, but more than that, it tells the stories of 3 students, form different places, who wanted to learn in spite of the fact that they had no prior education. As we watch them speak we notice colorful handprints in the background. Those colorful hands are going to create their lives from now on, and when they grow up and look back at what they had to go through, those hands and the people they belonged to is what they will remember.

The three students that opened up their hearts, allowed to share the story, made actual friends with the producers are Mohammed, a teenager from Darfur. This young man never went to school, but here in Bialik-Rogozin School, he was able to finish 4 years of school in just 1! Of course he had difficulties with homework and self-discipline at first, but look at him now! He has a great future ahead of him!

Then there is Johannes from Eritrea. Turned out Johannes was practically blind on one eye, but with the new glasses his teachers got him, he is now able to actively participate in the school process.

The saddest story is the story of Esther, a 9 year old, whose mother was murdered. “Your mom is like your best friend” imagine what happens when she is taken away from you. My relationship with my mom has never been a walk in the park, but as we all know difficulties bring people closer together, so we’ve been working on our relationship over the past couple of weeks. So what do you do when you see your mom killed in front of your eyes and it’s no movie? I have no answer to that. But Esther’s teachers do. They got her to open up, and she is able to receive help now. I always thought South Africa was more peaceful than that.

The beginning of the journey is different for everyone (shyness, being lost, feeling different), but the outcome is somewhat similar – it’s education, it’s acceptance, it’s the realization that there should be no boundaries, no stereotypes, no violence.

Watch the 87 minutes of this documentary, hear the children speak in their native language and in English, meet the teachers! It’s worth it.

PS. My personal interest in this film is the following – I lived with a Jewish family for a year, celebrated Shabbat, Sukkoth, Rosh Hashanah, Pesach, cooked meals the kosher way, ate the kosher way, went to a Brisk! And I am proud of it, I am thankful for the experience I was able to have, to feel included into the culture, into the tradition. Not everyone gets this opportunity! And not everyone understands the importance of it. I hope you will after watching the documentary!