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Op-Ed: Women Who Don't Make Tabloids Twitter Deserve our Attention

By Viga Boland     Nov 14, 2011 in Lifestyle
Toronto - Beautiful, recognized faces with perfect smiles catch our eyes as we wait at the grocery checkouts. Headlines scream who cheated with whom, and invite us to look at before and after plastic surgery photos of celebrities.
Magazine after magazine tells us the same story in different words about the same celebrities and their latest shenanigans, their trips in and out of rehab, who wore what and where, and who's just dumped whom for someone else. The world of celebrities sets tabloids, TV and the internet a-twitter. Quite frankly, it's all often a big yawn.
It's a very different scenario in a yellow room on the second floor of a community centre for the poor in Parkdale, Toronto. There, a group of women gather three times a week to share their stories. Their faces will most likely never appear inside a national tabloid, let alone be featured on the cover of a magazine. They come in all ages and sizes and from all backgrounds: Jamaican, Chinese, Peruvian. They don't have near perfect teeth, but their smiles, though sad, are genuine.
These purposeful ladies all have stories deserving a readership and on November 13, 2011, the Toronto Star gave them a two-page spread ... a centre-fold yet ... titled Finding Their Voices at Last.
The spread introduced readers to Leanne Abdulla who fled the persecution of her physically, mentally and verbally abusive family. Now 25, despite chronic depression and post-traumatic distress disorder, she has managed to build a life for herself on her own and intends to advocate for women who have experienced any form of oppression because they are different from others.
There's Adrienne Magennis who is on the mend at last after years of having a serious eating and psychiatric disorder that saw her weight drop to a dangerous 57 pounds. Today, at 50, after a new treatment has given her back her life, she does volunteer work and is active in the community.
Shelagh Klavir, now 76, the victim of an abusive father, came to Canada when she was 13. For 40 years, she did well as a successful travel agent. Then at 65, she went bankrupt and lost everything. She felt her life had no purpose but has now turned that around and focuses on others, especially those living in poverty.
There are many more women in this group who have now found their voices and are speaking out. Silenced no more, they are taking what they have learned from their hard lives and using it to help others in need. The Toronto Star has even given them video coverage on their site. It's unlikely these videos will ever go viral ... they're not sensational enough ... but they are worth watching, if only to remind us that non-celebrities (the majority of us) are worthy of time and attention, maybe even a centre-fold!
I applaud the Toronto Star and other newspapers for bringing us stories like these. I, for one, love reading about those who don't make tabloids twitter but who set hearts a-flutter by using their own hardships to help others. No, they don't sell magazines and make publishers and celebrities richer, but what they do enriches the lives of those in need. Kudos to you ladies of Parkdale.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of DigitalJournal.com
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