I was reminded today of the resilience of women. We see the signs of war every day. If we are lucky, we see them only on television. People are living these lives. But if we are the lucky ones, to only get clips of these wars, we have to be aware that we are usually only given one perspetive. The male perspective. We see the guns and the fighting and the tanks and the soldiers. Yes, there are some women soldiers and we must not eliminate them either. But as Zainab Salbi tells us in her most recent TED Talks – we are missing so many stories.
We are missing the story of Fareeda, a music teacher in Sarajevo, who made sure that she kept the music school open every single day in the four years of besiege in Sarajevo and walked to that school, despite the snipers shooting at that school and at her, and kept the piano, the violin, the cello playing the whole duration of the war, with students wearing their gloves and hats and coats. That was her fight. That was her resistance.
We are missing the story of Nehia, a Palestinian woman in Gaza who, the minute there was a cease-fire, she left out of home, collected all the flours and baked as much bread for every neighbor to have, in case there is no cease-fire the day after.
We are missing the stories of Violet, who, despite surviving of a genocide in the church massacre, she kept on going on – burying bodies, building homes, cleaning the streets.
She also tells us of her days of being a humanitarian. She went to Bosnia in the days of Sarajevo. It was the longest besieged city. She went to the women there and asked them what they wanted her to bring next time she came. One woman said lipstick. She replied, “Don’t you want like, I don’t know – vitamins?” And she replied, “No, lipstick.” She explained, “…because it’s the smallest thing we put on every day and we feel we are beautiful, and that’s how we are resisting. They want us to feel that we are dead. They want us to feel that we are ugly.”
And another woman said, “I put on the lipstick every time I leave because I want that sniper, before he shoots me, to know he is killing a beautiful woman.”
These are the stories we can’t miss. We can’t miss them from the war. We can’t miss them from our daily lives. Joyfully, my mother taught me that lesson years ago. When I was sick, or when she was sick, she told me this, “Slap on a little lipstick, you’ll be fine.” When I had surgery for the 20th time. When my father left. When we lost our house. “Slap on a little lipstick, you’ll be fine.” Somehow, some way, she too, let me know, that whatever this world was going to throw at us, they were going to throw it at a beautiful woman! What a gift! I will not forget it. I will not let you forget it either.
No matter what this world throws at you, you will thrive, believing in mother’s simply brilliant words, “Slap on a little lipstick, you’ll be fine.”