Welcome to the brand spankin’ new KAFFE KHAZZOOM podcast!
In this second episode, I dive deep into Jewish body shaming and body love – through personal storytelling, reading an excerpt from my book, The Flying Camel: Essays on Identity by Women of North African and Middle Eastern Jewish Heritage, and singing of my forthcoming song, “I Love My JewFro!” (Watch the music video trailer here.) Background info is below, to get you started and give you some context for this show. But first:
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Background for this Episode
Now for a little background before we dive into this first episode: As most people forget or choose to ignore, the Jewish people hail from the Middle East, and therefore, historically share the physiological traits of others in the Mediterranean region – including the ‘JewFro’ and ‘the Jewish nose,’ which are not in fact exclusive to Jews but are shared by Arabs, Italians, and the like. Through mixing with the locals in Central and Eastern Europe, over the generations, the skin and eye colour of Ashkenazim got lighter, but other racial/ethnic traits remained.
For decades, a nose job – the act of erasing one of the last remaining physical marks of Jews’ indigenous Middle Eastern roots – has been a right of passage for Ashkenazi girls. By way of comparison, through generations of blending with other ethnicities in the United States, there are now African-Americans with light skin and blue eyes, who for the most part can pass as White, but who still have the kinky hair and nose shape of their African ancestors.
Here too, Black women routinely alter their appearance, most commonly, by straightening their hair – thereby erasing a physical mark of their African roots. While nose-bopping and hair-straightening certainly may be a matter of personal preference, that preference, in turn, may be the result of internalized racism – slipping by, unexamined, as an aesthetic proclivity, like when I kept buying blonde Barbie dolls as a kid, because they were ‘prettier’ than the darker ones.
Get more into the weeds on topic, in my article, “Not a Jew. Says Who?” – published in JewThink, a UK publication and one of the most edgy Jewish media outlets today.
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