My Word: Over-exposure and cover-ups

I noticed – it’s a hard story to miss – that Barbie has been adapted to a new era in a big way.

The installation 'Sheltered position' of German artist Sabine Reyer shows one hundred Barbie dolls dressed with burkas at the Ruhr-Biennale in Dortmund (photo credit: REUTERS)
The installation 'Sheltered position' of German artist Sabine Reyer shows one hundred Barbie dolls dressed with burkas at the Ruhr-Biennale in Dortmund
(photo credit: REUTERS)
I’m not the Barbie-doll type. I never was. I lost interest in the only Barbie I had when I discovered the hard way that a doll’s hair does not grow back if you cut it. It was at that point, I suppose, that I learned, also the hard way, that there’s a difference between real life and our fantasy world.
I noticed – it’s a hard story to miss – that Barbie has been adapted to a new era in a big way. While I’m pleased to see that Mattel has created several versions of the doll with different skin colors, I’m not joining the chorus of cheerleaders for the new curvy version.
It’s important that young girls of different racial backgrounds can have a doll who looks identifiably like their dream friend, but what child ever looked at a doll with fat thighs and said: “That’s my dream doll.”
And as several young women I know wondered: Why is it that nobody demands that Ken be less muscular? Is our body image really determined by our dolls? I spent most of my childhood with the sort of puppy fat that could make you go barking mad, but still I don’t recall having an inferiority complex because of a toy. After I abandoned the blonde, blue-eyed, skinny-waisted Barbie, the only doll I remember playing with was a purple-haired, chubby-cheeked, plastic troll of the type that were omnipresent in the 1970s. To the best of my knowledge, it doesn’t look any more like me than the classic Barbie, and yet somehow I bonded better to it. I’m not sure I want to know why.
This was a week in which size apparently matters. The ongoing security situation continued to grab headlines, but the real story, at least in certain circles, was the fate of super-talented director-actress Ayelet Zurer, whose contract with the Golbary fashion chain was abruptly terminated, reportedly because of her age (46) or “because her external appearance changed for the worse.”
We should all be so lucky to look as bad as that. She’s being replaced as Golbary’s face (and body) by 25-yearold, blonde model Esti Ginzburg for reportedly double the fee.
Many women, particularly of the ages and sizes that suit the Golbary style, swore to boycott the store at the perceived insult.
Now that’s the type of boycott I can identify with. For years I avoided certain children’s stores because their advertising bordered on pornographic in my opinion.
The cabinet decision to allocate a separate plaza at the Western Wall for egalitarian prayers and women who want to wear prayer shawls and tefillin, was big news, too, of course, particularly in the English-speaking community.
It was based on a compromise and as such not the answer to anybody’s prayers. I welcome it not because I identify with Women of the Wall (I don’t) but because, hopefully, it can put an end to the monthly skirmishes at the holy site.
There are lots of places to fight the feminist battle. The Kotel is not one of them.
Respect can begin with self-respect; it can’t end there.
This week, actress Susan Sarandon’s endless cleavage also got a fair amount of exposure. I’m pleased for the 69-year-old that she still has two boobs on her remarkably slim body.
(Go for a mammogram, gals.) Why she chose to show them covered only minimally by a black bra under an open, white, double-breasted Max Mara suit should be her business, but this is the age of social media.
Sarandon can act any age she wants, but if you tread the red carpet at the Screen Actors Guild Award Ceremony you know you are literally going to be in the spotlight. Stepping out looking like you forgot to put on a shirt is not becoming at any age.
Don’t give me the feminist thing here either. If a male actor had stepped on stage in a pair of well-cut boxers but not much else I would have enjoyed the view and ridiculed him to the same extent.
IT SEEMED that all eyes were on Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump in Iowa this week when the US presidential race kicked off. I followed the results – Clinton scraping past Bernie Sanders, Ted Cruz topping Trump – but couldn’t help but feel that the world is missing a bigger and closer story.
The US elections are nearly a year away. Iran, on the other hand, is set to go to the polls on February 26.
How the so-called reformists fare in comparison with the fundamentalists (and whether the results will be announced this time before or after the ballots have been counted) will have an impact around the world, from Iran – and its proxies in Lebanon, Syria and Gaza – to Yemen, the Gulf states, Africa, Europe and even South America, particularly as this week the US Drug Enforcement Administration announced the arrest of Hezbollah members suspected of running a global drug-trafficking and money-laundering network that raised millions of dollars to buy weapons for the Syrian war. Seven countries were involved in the yearlong investigation codenamed “Project Cassandra.”
I find it hard to make head or tail of the coin-flip system that helped determine Clinton’s win by the skin of the teeth behind her tight smile.
But if the coin-toss system were applied to the new French peace-process proposal, Israel would at least stand a 50 percent chance of having its case recognized. Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius announced on January 29 that Paris would try to renew a peace initiative between Israel and the Palestinians, threatening that France would formally recognize a Palestinian state if the diplomatic efforts failed. Not surprisingly, Palestinian Authority head Mahmoud Abbas welcomed the initiative under which the Palestinians can’t lose – either they negotiate and get a state (having to compromise, like Israel, on certain issues) or they don’t negotiate and they get a state with undefined borders that will still serve as a pretext for more terror attacks.
In this context, two “cover-ups” last week were particularly noteworthy.
An Italian colleague posted on Facebook the photo of a kippa, courtesy of Il Foglio.
“It is the day of those not afraid to be on the side of democracy, of Israel,” wrote journalist Claudia Osmetti on her Facebook timeline. “All the rest are new fascisms.”
Il Foglio explained why it had distributed the free, white skullcaps – and called on readers to send in photos wearing them: “A Jew who hides in fear of being recognized as a Jew is the perfect symbol of a world that forces the West to hide for fear of provoking a reaction among those who want to stab the West. Very well.
We are doing our small part, and this year we will turn January 27th, International Holocaust Remembrance Day, into our and your “Wear a Kippah Day.” The Jews shall not hide.
The West shall not hide. We stand publicly behind it.”
The timing not only coincided with International Holocaust Remembrance Day. It came at the same time as Iranian President Hassan Rouhani was making his great European trip and spending spree, while at home the Islamic State’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei chose that particular day, according to MEMRI (the Middle East Media Research Institute) to express “doubt about whether the Holocaust actually happened… and hints at a conspiracy on the part of Western Europe and the US.”
It was just a few days after US Secretary of State John Kerry admitted that some of the $55 billion in sanctions relief released to Iran under the nuclear deal will ultimately end up in the hands of terrorists, although he didn’t sound too concerned about it.
And the world moved on.
Barbie’s body and color, Sarandon’s cleavage, Clinton’s coin-flip and Trump’s hair serve as a great diversion from Iran’s sponsoring an annual Holocaust denial cartoon contest in June.
While Il Foglio’s campaign was not an unmitigated success, it did serve as a backdrop to a shameless cover-up: Rome’s world-famous Capitoline Museum, which hosted the meeting between Rouhani and Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi, decided to hide the naked statues under white panels to avoid offending the visiting Islamic leader.
The move was reportedly the initiative of the Prime Minister’s Office and not at Rouhani’s request, which makes matters worse.
If the Italian leadership thinks it prudent to hide Venus from non-prying eyes it might as well roll over and submit now.
This is not child’s play. This isn’t switching Barbie’s outfits to suit a young girl’s moods, whims and dreams.
Hundreds of thousands of Muslim migrants are flowing into Europe due to the wars in the Arab world and beyond. ISIS, suffering setbacks in Syria and Iraq, is trying to regroup in Libya, the former Italian colony just across the waters.
Now is not a good time to change the famous motto to “When in Rome, do as the ayatollahs do.”