The Thoughtful Dresser

Catherine Hill was a holocaust survivor.

After she got out of the concentration camp she made fashion her passion–and recovered because of it.

Her life story proves that fashion isn’t frivolous. You can read in detail about her life in the Linda Grant book The Thoughtful Dresser: The Art of Adornment, The Pleasures of Shopping, and Why Fashion Matters.

An image consultant I employ recommended this book. It’s right up there in the pantheon of great fashion books.

Sent to the camp, Catherine was given a cotton sack dress to wear. She cut the hem into a strip and tied it around her head like a bandanna. The Nazis didn’t like that of course.

After she moved to Canada, she opened and ran for years a successful high-end fashion boutique.

At her husband’s request (he was soon to be her ex) she had the yellow star tattoo removed from her arm.

The yellow star is a reminder of how hate turned the Nazis against Jewish people, against those with disabilities, and against the infirm.

As soon as I was diagnosed with SZ I thought to myself: “Right–and if I lived in Germany during WWII–as a person with SZ I’d have been sent to the gas chamber.”

That was one of my first thoughts after getting the diagnosis I kid you not.

Catherine Hill survived–I hear she’s writing a memoir and I’d love to read it.

I met a senior citizen holocaust survivor 17 years ago for about five minutes. I was so distraught that she’d been in a camp. Yet the better thing was that she got out and lived to an old age.

I know another guy whose mother fled with him to escape the Nazis–and they were able to come to America.

I think of these things now. The point of writing this blog entry is that each of us needs to challenge the haters in society and in the world. We need to actively take a stand.

We are on the cusp of the destruction of human rights all over again–a far greater threat to our planet than any environmental hazard.

Acting self-serving, promoting a self-interested agenda–is not the way to live our lives. The level of hate in society–the divisive rhetoric– has reached a tipping point.

Hating a person you haven’t ever met, calling them a racist, or in the opposite killing them or imprisoning them–is the new Great American Shame.

When Mr. Toupee applauds cops, we’ve sunk to a new low. When AG Jeff Sessions institutes mandatory minimums for prison sentences for non-violent drug offenders, there’s no hope for repairing what’s broken in society.

It’s also a great shame that I or you or anyone can be the object of hate by someone who hasn’t even met us.

The yellow stars might be gone, yet they can’t be forgotten.

George Santayana was oft-quoted: “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”

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Author: Chris Bruni

Christina Bruni is the author of the critically acclaimed memoir Left of the Dial. She owns a resume writing and career help business. She contributed a chapter "Recovery is Within Reach" to Benessere Psicologico: Contemporary Thought on Italian American Mental Health. As well as an author and activist, Bruni is an artist and a fitness buff.

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