As mentioned before, I teach English to non-native English speakers, mostly children. It’s lots of fun and takes up lots of energy, but every now and again I get a story worth sharing – like this one.
Oh the cultural differences are sweet and subtle in children, until they open their mouths and express their opinions. Then it’s probably shocking and/or super funny.
Russian and Ukrainian women are well-known for their beauty aesthetics, and rightly so. Some call them high maintenance, and while that might be true in some cases, I honestly think these women are just really well maintained. They take a deep pride in how they look and dress and I think that is something to be applauded rather than judged. There is absolutely nothing wrong in taking pride in your body and feeling good about how you look and in teaching your children that (especially because these women come in all shapes, colors and sizes and they know how to ROCK themselves). Now when that’s the only focus, yes, then it’s a problem, but I love watching these women in all their styles take care of themselves and feel amazing and project this amazingness onto their surroundings and then teach their children about the importance of self confidence and self worth.
On that note – the girl in my story’s mother is Russian. A very beautiful and well-done-up woman who obviously teaches her daughter the same values.
I was teaching a Drama Workshop, and we were going over the parts of a story, i.e. characters, setting, plot and problem. (They only range in ages 5-7, so I’m impressed we got all this!) We were breaking down Cinderella, since that day it was an all-girls-group and because everyone obviously knows the story of Cinderella. Please imagine me in a very friendly, almost Disney princess-like manner talking to the kids with the following:
“Characters? Yes, yes, good: Cinderella, the mice, Prince Charming, The King, The Stepsisters, The Stepmother. Very nice!”
“Setting? Where is this all happening? Yes, very good, at a palace, in a mansion, outside, inside, yes yes.”
“Plot – What is this story about? What is going on in this story? Can anyone tell me? Yes? Wow! Very good. Cinderella is nice and works for her mean family. She wants to go to the ball and marry the prince but the mean sisters and evil stepmother won’t let her.”
“Problem, who can tell me what the big problem is? Yes, Cinderella is poor. Yes, Cinderella has only animal friends. No, the mice are not a problem, they are her friends! The evil stepmom, yes, she is a problem, why? Is she angry with Cinderella? Jealous? Yes yes yes I’ll write it all here on the board.”
At this point, the little girl I mentioned beforehand sat back on her heels and looked inquisitively off to the side for a moment and then said, “The stepmother is UGLY!”
I looked at her and said, “Well, I wouldn’t say she is ugly. I think she would be very pretty, actually, for an older woman. But she is ugly because she is mean and evil and her heart is black – that is what makes her ugly.”
Then the little girl replied with, “Well, why doesn’t she just go to the place where ladies do their hair?”
Me, my look now more quizzical than the girl’s, “Do you mean the hair salon?” All princess demeanor has dropped from my voice, and I’m asking an honest question with a look of honest surprise in my face.
“Yes!” she replied enthusiastically, “Then she could go there and get all pretty and feel good and then go home and be nice! Why doesn’t she just do that?”
While I was giggling, I realized that a) this little girl is already in tune with how good a little beauty treatment can feel and make you feel after and b) has probably witnessed this happen to the females in her life more than once.
All I could do with her was agree, that it would make her feel better and then maybe she would be a little nicer. After all, it was a fair point, wasn’t it? It’s as good a hypothesis as ever I have heard! 😉
So the lesson learned here? Feeling mean and being mean to people who don’t deserve it? Go get your hair done. If it’s really bad, include a mani-pedi.