Friday, November 25, 2005

Women must learn to love themselves, event told

Staff Reporter

Women should reclaim their self-esteem by embracing their natural beauty, a former beauty consultant and TV personality told a room full of wives, mothers and daughters at the annual Chabad Lubavitch of Markham sisterhood evening last week.

Adrienne Gold, who made her mark on Canadian television as host of the beauty and fashion show Images with Adrienne Gold, spoke about beauty and the media, and about learning to love yourself, using her trademark humour and unabashed honesty.

The event, titled “Women Who Make a Difference,” included speeches, a fashion show and a raffle, and it honoured Jeanette Karp, a member of the Chabad of Markham sisterhood, for her charity and volunteer work.

Gold talked about her journey from being a young, self-conscious girl who hid behind makeup and clothes because she thought she was ugly, to a mature, spiritual woman who walked away from a career in television to teach lessons from the Torah to women all over North America.

She recalled her days as a schoolgirl, desperately trying to fit in, all the while trying to draw attention away from herself by creating a distracting visual image.

“I thought if people looked at me and said, ‘Look what she’s wearing today,’ then they wouldn’t look at me.”

“Many times when you see a woman dressed in an over-the-top, overly erotic way… you need to know that that woman wants to not be seen,” Gold said.

“I perfected the look so that no one could see me.”

People began to take notice of her fashion sense, which led to a job as a stylist, but what her employers didn’t realize was that she was selling tips in distraction, rather than fashion, Gold said.

She told her audience that women shouldn’t feel the need to hide behind makeup and clothes.

“When I started to become more religious, the first thing I embraced was modest clothing,” she said, adding that she wanted to be seen for who she was and not what she wore.

She said it’s unfair for women to compare themselves to 18-year-old models on skin-care commercials who represent what the beauty industry thinks a 40-year-old woman should look like.

“The fashion and beauty industry has one motivation. They want you to feel bad about yourself, because if you do, you’ll want to buy stuff.”

She said that youth and beauty dominate our culture, but the standards are unrealistic.

Gold spoke about shopping with a friend and discovering a piece of clothing with a tag that said “size zero.”

“I said, ‘What exactly is a zero? Does that mean we are not supposed to exist? Is that progress?’”

Gold said that trying to become a size zero is not only an unhealthy, unrealistic aspiration, it also hinders a woman’s chances of fulfilling one of the biggest mitzvahs.

“Women with no body fat cannot fulfill the first mitzvah in the Torah, which is ‘Be fruitful and multiply.’ You need fat. Women have fat. It is just that simple.”

She acknowledged that some women are naturally skinny, but noted they make up only two per cent of the population.

“One of the things that Judaism teaches us about beauty… is that beauty and grace are not lasting.”

Rather than obsess about looking young and beautiful, Gold said women should embrace the natural process of aging.

“If you are lucky, you will age. Your skin will betray you. You can shoot yourself full of Botox until next Thursday, but at a certain point, you’re going to start to look like Joan Rivers and everyone will know it,” Gold said to a chorus of laughter.

“You can get away with it only for so long, so why not stop now?”

She said we need to stop aspiring to be a size zero, “a nothing,” and be joyful with who we are.

“One of the things we learn in the Torah is that if you want to maximize pleasure you need to minimize it. Less body, more soul, more joy, more beauty.

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