G-d sends you signs in the most unlikely places. Our job is to stay within His divine parameters in order to witness them. I believe it does require stepping out of your box to focus on a potential harbinger.
Last week, I opened The New York Times, and lo and behold, there it was, as pronounced as any ad campaign I’ve seen in many years - especially from a cosmetics company. OLAY, together with Walgreens, placed a three-page ad that read “This Face Has Faced. We face obstacles. We face challenges. We overcome our fears. Together we can face anything.” I immediately started to sing “G-d is trying to tell you something,” a hymn from The Color Purple. G-d’s word was right there with Olay Regenerist micro-sculpting cream and wrinkle correction serum with B3 peptides.
This passing year of 5780 that’s reaching a welcomed conclusion is the year during which I faced numerous health issues and countless fears. Starting in June, during a 60-day period, I received a parathyroidectomy and hip replacement. These two surgeries quickly followed my husband’s severe bout and hospitalization with COVID-19. Baruch Hashem, he recovered and is stronger than ever, and I’m finally feeling familiar to myself.
This year appeared to challenge each of us in the most bespoken way, as if it were a couture ball gown with the exact fittings and measurements required for a runway show in Paris. What do I mean by that? The obstacles that we faced were so personal, they were almost as if our minds were read by a master medium. In my situation, the first fear I faced was the notion that my newlywed husband wouldn’t be there any longer. Every tehilim group that my friends organized and every blessing from rabbis gave me the strength to face what G-d had in store. Shortly after, my two operations tapped into primal fears from childhood and agonizing age issues.
Confiding in my peers and family helped me see myself clearer. In spite of that, I faced fears that nearly froze my strength and most certainly and temporarily paralyzed my power.
G-d had a message for me, and I simply needed to hear it in my weaknesses - the weakness of health, body, and beauty. What’s my worth if I don’t feel my best, my prettiest, my strongest, my healthiest?
As women, haven’t we all been faced with these questions of self-awareness?
Last year I wrote about the relevance of the September issue of Vogue, which included the trophy of the cover, the countless company ad campaigns, and the lure of the lifestyle. These campaigns on public opinion are there to remind everyone that these are fantasies which are photoshopped to seduce you and feed your fears. Will I ever look like that? Be skinny like that? Have flawless skin like that? Afford that?
I myself have fallen victim to these very same questions, surrounding myself with starving models, unrealistic designers, and unfeasible photographers trying to achieve utopian images of fashion, thus constantly questioning my relevance and image. Olay admits in a statement to Adweek that women face outrageous - and often conflicting - expectations about their appearance from the beauty industry, and society as a whole. “In the U.S., 40% of women surveyed by Mintel said they felt beauty advertisements impart an unrealistic expectation, making it unclear what was actually achievable.”
This house of cards came tumbling down for me and many others this particular year. Foolishly, I thought I found the perfect balance, until 2020/5780 came over us with a different face. All the Photoshop and filters couldn’t hide the flaws any longer. My resolution was to dig deeper within my faith to find my true worth; as a result I faced the self that G-d demanded that I face.
In the upcoming 5781, let’s all face what we have overcome in 5780. We all had multiple challenges, rearranged lives and fractured fairy tales. As women, we faced reshuffled systems, unbalanced households, and lopsided self-care within an unstable world. So, let’s strive to face it all together with a round of applause for our endurance, resilience, reserve, and unyielding faith in ourselves, each other, and most of all, G-d. For G-d wants to see all our true faces.
Happy New Year!
Tobi Rubinstein is a retired fashion and marketing executive of 35 years who currently produces runway and lifestyle events for NYFW, specializing in Israel’s leading artists and designers. She is the founder of The House of Faith N Fashion, fusing culture and Torah. Tobi was a fashion collaboration and guest expert for ABC, Geraldo Rivera, Huffington Post, Lifetime, NBC, Bravo, and Arise. She hosted her own radio and reality TV series. Tobi is a mother, wife, dog owner, and shoe lover.