Purim’s Beauty Myth

February 24, 2013

What did you think of the question posed at the bottom of the article?

(Forward By Johnna Kaplan)Esther saved the Jewish people because, so they say, she was smart and brave. When she learned of the genocidal plot of Haman, the vizier to her husband, King Ahasueres of Persia, she revealed that she was a Jew and pleaded for her people to be spared.
Esther’s daring act of approaching the king, confessing her nationality, and requesting the Jews be saved from certain death underpins the story of Purim. But as relatable as the holiday’s heroine is meant to be, few of us would get the opportunity to act as she did. Ahasuerus had chosen Esther above all of the other girls in his harem; to put it plainly, she was able to save the Jewish people because she was the hottest woman in the room.
But the story of Purim isn’t the only reason I’ve been thinking about Jewish women, beauty and the pressure to look a certain way.
First, I read this Jewcy piece by Emily Shire (who also writes for the Sisterhood) about how Jewish girls and women have a particular preoccupation with thinness. I had never thought of the issue that way, possibly because, unlike Shire, I grew up in a town where Jews, though hardly invisible, were not the majority. In my experience, (natural) beauty and (effortless) skinniness were expected of all girls equally, as were good grades, athleticism and flawless hair.
My mom was similarly unsure about the premise, though when I read her a sentence about Jewish women being especially devoted to the diet beverage Tab, she said excitedly, “Ooh! I remember Tab!” I tried to recall whether, in my youth, Jewish girls I knew cared more about being thin than the others. I wasn’t sure.
But now, as an adult, I think perhaps we do. The other day a friend mentioned that an acquaintance, a Jewish-Hispanic woman, had “married a white dude; her kids look totally white.” I cynically said, essentially, “good for her, because Jewish guys don’t want us anyway unless we’re size zero.” My friend replied, “Exactly,” and added that the Jewish men she knew preferred “Asian girls with big boobs — another white elephant.” It’s important to clarify that my friend is a) long-married and b) neither Jewish nor Asian. Jewish women are now expected to be thinner (read: prettier) than the competition, to the point where even outside observers notice it.
While pondering this rather depressing state of affairs, I noticed Purim on my calendar, preceded by the minor fast day of Ta’anit Esther. Esther fasted for three days before approaching Ahasuerus. How many pounds, I wondered, could one lose doing that? Because if I was requesting a stay of execution for my entire community based on my attractiveness, I’d want to look as good (read: thin) as possible when doing it.
Esther is not the only Biblical woman who relied on her looks to help defeat enemies of the Jews. Judith got close enough to decapitate Holofernes because he desired her, and though it isn’t explicitly stated, it’s hard for me to believe Yael lured Sisera into her tent simply by promising him a drink. Of course, plenty of other ancient women might have had the guts to wield tent pegs against their foes; we only hear about the ones who got the opportunity.
These days, hopefully, it’s different, but for much of history a Jewish woman could only change the world by being noticed. Even today, you don’t get plucked from obscurity for your personality. The idea that looks can bring salvation runs through the Jewish female experience. If you can catch the eye of the King or even flirt with the Nazi officer, maybe you’ll change his mind. Maybe you’ll live.
I suppose every little tribe under ancient Persian rule had their would-be Esther, who hoped the king would repay her presence in his harem by lending support to her cause. But not all cultures would approve of such things. So I wonder if the celebration of women who do good by means of their beauty is particularly Jewish. I wonder if some relic of it hangs on to this day, and is expressed in the pressure to be prettier, to be thinner, to be the one who might get noticed and save us after all.

I find the “Forward” disturbing more times than not, but what struck me as odd is that the article did realize that a females sexiness is a trait that is encouraged by Judaism in a way that a man’s sexiness is not… this I agree with… but I found it odd that the Forward somehow seems to think this character is unique to Judaism or at the very least is something unusual. I can’t think of any culture that does not share this character. It was almost like the writer reached a conclusion she didn’t like and then concluded that Jews like beautuiful women because we are inferior and then concluded that other cultures are not like this… which is a very odd conclusion. Is this the source of the Forwards progressive readers self hate and Anti-Semitism? Do feminist Jews really believe that gender traits are something that is made by Jewish law and not something that occurs naturally? I find it hard to refute the idea that feminism is in fact self hatred. I am very glad this liberal self hater allowed us a window into her warped soul.


Miss France Slammed for Being "White as Snow"

December 11, 2012

8 out of the 33 candidates were ethnics. Still not enough. Europeans must have nothing.

A black rights group on Monday slammed the latest Miss France competition for producing a “white as snow” winner from a field it claimed was unrepresentative of the country’s ethnic make-up.
Marine Lorphelin, 19, a brunette medical student from Burgundy, was on Saturday crowned Miss France 2013, having edged out Miss Tahiti, Hinarini de Longeaux, in the final round of judging.
Louis-Georges Tin, the president of the CRAN (Representative Council of Black Associations), on Monday lamented the lack of contestants from France’s African and north African communities.
“The failure to represent the contemporary French population in an event such as this is obviously serious,” Tin said in a statement issued jointly with Fred Royer, the creator of Miss Black France.
“It amounts to denying the very existence of French people of African origin.”
Of the 33 finalists in Saturday’s contest, eight were from ethnic minorities with six of those coming from France’s Pacific or Caribbean territories.
“In the antiquated world of Miss France, blacks apparently can only come from overseas departments,” the CRAN statement said.
“As for Frenchwomen of north African heritage, they were ‘represented’ by only one candidate who was quickly eliminated (too Muslim perhaps?).”
France is home to around five million Muslims, most of them of north African origin.
The statement went on to express regret that “Miss France is as white as the end of year snow on the steeples of an eternal France.”


Jenna Talackova — armed with Gloria Allred as her lawyer — fires back at Miss Universe Canada

April 4, 2012

This might shock you considering my opinions on Gay Marriage, but if this were the United States I would say Ms. Talackova has a right to compete because there is no legitimate state interest in gender discrimination. That is how the SCOTUS has found things… and that is probably how I would see things as well. Of course I don’t know Canadian laws, but my guess is that they are more liberal then ours. She did lie about if she was born a woman or not, but she might very well see herself as always being a woman. Most certainly there are some people that are born without any gender at all and chose to go a certain direction… it all depends on how we declare gender. Even in the Torah there is no criteria of deciding what makes a man or woman. I suppose the Orthodox will remind us that the tradition is to not alter the human body, but she is not a Jew. So on what grounds… legal or moral do we have to throw her out of pageant?

REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni

(National Post)On Monday, amid mounting public backlash, the organization reversed the decision, but added the caveat that Ms. Talackova must meet “the legal gender recognition requirements of Canada.” During Tuesday’s press conference, Ms. Talackova produced her Canadian passport, which identifies her as a woman, and called on Mr. Trump to say, “in plain words whether or not I will be allowed to compete.”
“I have never asked for any special consideration, I only wanted to compete,” she said.
The Miss Universe Organization has also asked that Ms. Talackova meet the “standards established by other international competitions.” As a result, Ms. Talackova’s bid for Miss Universe inclusion could go global, Ms. Page said. “Maybe that’s what Trump and company have in mind,” she said.
Ms. Allred is known for representing high-profile clients, such as: English actress Charlotte Lewis, who alleged that director Roman Polanski had sexually abused her as a teen; Nicole Brown Simpson’s family during the O.J. Simpson murder trial; and a number of Tiger Woods’ ex-lovers.
“[Donald] Trump has caved in a bit already. He has to go the rest of the way and say it loudly, and say it clearly, that not only will Jenna be allowed to compete, but that the rule is gone — no ifs, ands, buts or ors. No conditions and no excuses,” Ms. Allred told reporters.
“Otherwise, we are considering all of Jenna’s legal options.”
As international competitions go, the Olympics have typically been the staging ground for transgendered issues, with women who were born male being accused of having an unfair advantage. In 2004, just before the Athens Olympics, the International Olympic Committee ruled that transexuals could compete, as long as they had completed sex reassignment surgery — and had undergone hormone therapy for at least two years.
In the case of a beauty pageant, it is “hard to claim that Ms. Talackova has an unfair advantage over other women competing for the crown,” reads a March 29 blog post by Mercedes Allen, operator of the Alberta transgendered website AlbertaTrans.org.
Ms. Talackova says she has known she was a female since she was four years old. She began hormone therapy at 14 and had sex reassignment surgery in 2010. “Since I was conscious I always felt this way,” she wrote in an email to Postmedia News two weeks ago.
Ms. Talackova “understandably realizes that her case could be a significant landmark for the dignity and liberty of LGBTQ citizens everywhere,” reads a weekend statement by Talackova spokesman Rory Richards. The 61st annual Miss Universe Canada pageant will begin May 11 in Toronto.(MORE)


Helena Rubinstein and the Business of Beauty

November 14, 2011

Media_httpwwwnewyorke_bayip(New Yorker) “Rubinstein’s New York living room, like everything else about her, was tasteless but full of gusto,” Brandon writes. “It sported an acid-green carpet designed by Miró, twenty Victorian carved chairs covered in purple and magenta velvets, Chinese pearl-inlaid coffee tables, gold Turkish floor lamps, life-sized Easter Island sculptures, six-foot-tall blue opaline vases, African masks around the fireplace, and paintings covering every inch of wall space.” She once invited Edith Sitwell over for lunch and, upon hearing that Sitwell’s ancestors had burned Joan of Arc at the stake, exclaimed, “Somebody had to do it!” In the nineteen-fifties, she took as a companion a young man half a century her junior, wooing him on a date that began with an enormous lunch (“I need to keep up my energy!”) and a showing of “Ben-Hur” (“Most interesting! I’m glad the Jewish boy won!”). From then on, Rubinstein took the young man everywhere, even to a state dinner with the Israeli Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion, who asked her, “Who’s your goy?” Rubinstein replied, “That’s Patrick! And . . . and, yes, he is my goy.”

Note the backhanded accusation of racism at the Jewish entrepreneur. It is as if implying that even the Jewish business woman is a bigot. Some interesting history here, but told in a frame that is hostile to profit and business. Hate is not profitable and though the editorial feels otherwise, the greater story is that haters go to considerable illogical choices to guide their decisions. Rubinstein is compared to the L’Oreal owner Schueller who bought her business after she died and was a Nazi and Arab League collaborator against Israel and it’s Jews. It is pointed out that L’Oreal could of just as well bought another cosmetics company like Elizabeth Arden, but the point is that he bought Rubinstein… and like Lehman Brothers before him… bought her company in what would turn out to be a poor business decision. The was written in March; back when business was still under attack. It was written in the New Yorker and used a Jewish historical business figure to prove how shrewd business decisions are often immoral. After looking it over months later I have realized how biased the New Yorker actually is, because if you look at the underlying story (hidden behind the writer’s bias and behind the critic of the writer’s bias) is a story about how vanity, ego and bigotry led to a poor move. Oscar Schindler is also brought up. Suppose Oscar had not saved those Jews? Would he of become a hero after the war?