September/ October Wrapt

 

I think for most people knowing when to speak and when to stay quiet is a delicate endevour. I definitely had to grow into the skill and even though I am better these days at striking that balance, I know I have still have a way to go. It's an active process and it's hard. 

Thanks to the ever-accessible media, the devices and platforms we inhabit, we feel more connected to a wider community and network, feeling the pressure to keep up, engage and be heard. For better or for worse, it isn't just overwhelming; it is also deafening. We want to be part of the conversation but don't necessarily have the skills or education to navigate them and so we don't always engage in the healthiest way- often superficially assessing a situation, speaking without knowing the context and in many cases failing to stay quiet when we really, really should.

It's a fact; superficial assessment means less information is absorbed and processed deeply- simply put, things go unnoticed when distracted. I can't think of a better example than the Ariana Grande incident at Aretha Franklin's funeral this past week. It took 18 hours for people to notice that her obvious discomfort was not likely due to her ditsy personality (this was what some of my more critical peers commented on early in the viewing) or the overwhelming nature of the event, but rather the Pastor's manhandling of her body, which whether intentional or not, was inappropriate and unfortunate. 

The public's realization of the incident and their response came in waves. Initially, a terrible joke about TacoBell and her name (referencing her Latina roots) was examined, following this was some nasty criticism about her choice of 'church attire' and then only after these frivolous reasons caught everyone's attention did someone take notice of the more serious behavior of the Pastor. Under the banner of #RespectAriana, this too spread like wildfire.

Two things happened next. First, Ariana Grande thanked all her fans in a simple "love you so much" tweet and second, the Pastor immediately took responsibility and apologized.  We will never truly know whether or not his response to Grande was sincere or whether it came as a result of the massive wave of social pressure, but what is important to recognize is that a media call out resulted in swift social justice (undoubtedly much of this lies in the success of "#timesup" ad "#metoo" movement). In this sense, social media has the potential to defend the downtrodden and prevent future incidents such as these from being an everyday occurrence. 

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However, as the #RespectAriana conversation reached critical mass and we watched something beautiful grow out of something ugly, we stopped listening. Ariana, the person who was labeled a victim, said nothing. She didn't complain, or blame, she didn't ask or direct, she was grateful, no doubt by her fan's outpouring of love, support, and protection, but that was it. She said nothing else on the incident.

So, why aren't we listening? Fueled by the recent successes of the movement and a shift in the power dynamics, I know our are intentions are pure- we want to topple a history of misogyny and patriarchy , but you can't push someone into victimhood who doesn't want it or doesn't necessarily feel it. There is so much more at risk if we do that. 

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Instead, what we need to do is stop talking, tweeting, sharing and listen. Just listen. Listen to those who want to speak up, support them and show those who are building the courage to share that it's a safe space for them should they wish to. If you need to speak, take a moment and find the right space to fill. I was reminded of this recently when a friend of mine, Charlotte Coren, shared a tender moment between her and a stranger.

Waiting in line to order lunch the other day I was busy people watching - my rediscovered favorite past time now that I am without a phone. I saw one single young woman on the till taking orders and payments. Bless her. It was boiling, she was in all black, full sunshine, with about 100 hot and hungry Israelis bearing down on her. She took it like a total champ. As I watched her breathing and semi-smiling her way through it, I thought I'd like to buy that girl a cold drink and tell her what a good job she's doing. 

Eventually, it was my turn, and as she looked at me and I smiled at her, I suddenly became all English and got shy. I stuttered in very poor Hebrew "aht chazaka" - you are strong. The closest my melting brain could get to 'hardcore'. She looked at me like I was speaking Chinese and the conversation went something like this...

Me: You really have a lot of patience. I have no idea how you're managing to do this with a smile on your face, thank you.

Her: excuse me?

Me: (feeling like an idiot and going red) Erm... You're doing a great job. Really good. Thank you.

Her: (eyes filling with tears) What did you say?

Me: (wanting to disappear as everyone is looking at me) You're doing great. Thank you. 

Her: Really? Wow. I can't believe it. No one has ever said anything like that to me.

Me: really? Wow. I'm sorry to hear that. It's true.

Her: I've been working here for almost four months and not once has someone stopped to tell me that. Thank you so much, you have no idea how much that means.

Me: It's ok, you don't have to thank me. You're the one doing all the work.

Her: Thank you so much. I so appreciate you saying that.

Me: My pleasure. Can I buy you a drink for you to have at the end of your shift?

Her: (incredulous) Are you joking? (tears rolling down her cheeks)

And so it went on...

Charlotte continued on to encourage others “to call out bravery, beauty, goodness, and effort” wherever one sees it. “We could all do with a little pat on our back now and again. And for the most part, I think people welcome that connection”.But therein lies the point, you can be encouraging, you can be supportive, but don’t speak in place of others. Listen and watch and then speak to, not for. Hold up your sister so that she has the strengh to grow and the knowledge that she can lean on you if she needs the help.

On the topic of resolving to do better, this coming month I am celebrating the Jewish New Year. It is a festival that revolves around critical self assessment- where we are encouraged to take stock of our past year and resolve to be better in the coming year. So we are wishing everyone celebrating a Happy Rosh Hashana (New year) and may you all merit to to grow stronger and closer to your loved ones and find the space in your life to make more meaningful connections. To those who just celebrated Eid, we are motivated by your charity and good deeds and look to further emulate these in the world.

Additionally, in these coming months we will be showcasing the diverse Israeli styling talent here. For those who want assistance navigating the world of fashion in Israel- both local and international, or for women who are simply working hard and time poor but value style this is the series for you. Every week we will share a stylist's profile and personal edit with their contact details and the area of fashion they navigate so stay tuned and check in. Additionally, there is a new short course on the Israeli fashion scene in Tel Aviv for English speakers, clink the link here for more details.

With the warmest regards,

Chava Kuchar

Editor in Chief