After WWII and the horror of the holocaust, my family and everyone I knew wanted to join in and realize the American dream. Rising out of poverty, owning a home, going to school, getting a profession and generally fitting in were the goals. Looking American was part of it.
I am obviously Jewish. I had an exotic look, including a Mediterranean nose, a big nose in other words. Not a ski nose. Not a straight nose. A somewhat big nose by common standards. Mother decided I needed a nose job. One girl in my group really had a beak. She needed a nose job! I refused the operation.
It wasn't until I lived in Israel that I fully accepted how I looked. It was like being in new world! I fit in. Jews from all over, with all colors, and shapes. And the men! It was like being in a candy store. OMG. I never had seen so many attractive and handsome men.
Being ethnic had not been the norm when I was growing up. Being as 'white' looking as possible was the way to success. There was not an ethnic food section in chain supermarkets. If you wanted ethnic food, you had to find it, maybe in another town where your group was more prominent. I remember going with my Dad three towns over to buy pumpernickel bread, rye bread, bagels and other delicacies.
Even if you look in the mirror, or check yourself in a photo, it is not really possible to know how you look. One day, on a bus in Israel, I saw a young man from Iran. He had dark hair like mine. Green eyes and melanin rich skin. I couldn't take my eyes off him. Finally, I saw someone who looked like me.
With the current rise in anti-semitism both here and in Europe, I have been thinking about wearing a BIG Jewish star. Fearing for my safety, my close friends have discouraged me from doing that. What a world we live in! I've determined to continue working on my spiritual growth in hope that the love in my heart will shine forth. If I run into trouble, so be it.