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Emily in Łódź

Note 27/ 27 Oct/2020
Prof. Aleksandra Lesiak MD
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Polish Emily. What kind of person is she?

Though I’m not the lyrical subject in the latest Kazik’s song “I don’t have time for nothing, cause I watch TV series. I don’t have time for nothing, period”, I do happen to sit in front of my TV once in a while. And since I don’t have time for anything, I usually do binge- watching. If I like the series, the only chance to see it before I forget, is to see it all at once. That’s how I came across “Emily in Paris”. The show is easy and enjoyable. We see only pretty people on the screen, no dramatic choices, beautifully captured Paris – perfect for exhausted me, I thought. The sun is shining, no deadly viruses in the air, and champagne is being chilled in the chateau cellars. Basically, everything seems correct. There is Paris, the most charming I might say, there are beautiful, perfectly stylized characters, and there is plot which doesn’t require to track all the scenes in order not to lose the continuity of action. In general, we know what to expect.

But however naive the plot might be, we Polish women have a lot to reproach to it.
- She just told her man that she would go to Paris for a whole year, and she did? How come?
- She does not speak the language, and it doesn’t even seem to be a problem? How come?
- She just joined a new company, and she doesn’t stroke, pretend to be foolish, says what she
thinks? How come?
How come?

These “How come” seem to appear suspiciously too often. The question to ask is if this TV show is so naive, or are we so backward. Especially we, Poles, who before taking a decision have to think if the opportunity does not collide with our husband’s plans, if children will manage, if we might have to give up on visits at our parents or parents-in-law, etc., etc. etc… And finally if we will manage ourselves, as we all are so inexperienced after all.

This TV series tells about self-acceptance and self-confidence, features which as it appears are perfectly strange to us, Polish women. Recently I have studied the results of tests carried out by the organization Health Behaviour in School-aged Children, and I could not believe my eyes. According to the study, 15 year old Polish girls have the lowest self-evaluation levels in Europe, and additionally are the least satisfied with their looks among all 42 researched countries! This is not all. Not only do those kids believe they are stupid and ugly, or at least more stupid and uglier than their peers, but receive contradictory messages from us, adults as well. It is wrong to be a good girl after all. One needs to fight for herself, go against the grain, stand out, care about the image. But to be a bad girl is not right either, because we should listen to elders, learn from their mistakes, and stand in the corner hoping to be noticed. It is bad to think only about ourselves and our careers, but if we don’t do that, then it’s disastrous, since nowadays only healthy egoism allows us to reach the success. You surely are familiar with the saying “Good girls go to heaven , bad girls wherever they want” …Bad meaning what? Are we supposed to sit quiet? Not to have ideas, appetite for life, confidence that we can earn our own living? Should we not have our own opinion, or just on the contrary?

And finally, what does it mean to be a woman nowadays? Especially today, especially in Poland.



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