This may come as a bit of a shock to readers of this magazine, but, in Israel, many things are controversial, including things that really shouldn’t be. Like supermodels and their life choices: The newest social media derecho involves one Bar Refaeli, who this weekend gave birth to her second daughter, Elle.
What makes Refaeli, second only to Gal Gadot as an avatar of national pride, so contentious? To understand that, you’d do well to look back to a photo she posted on Instagram last summer. It features a glass of white wine next to a bottle of Similac, with the caption “hers and hers,” meaning that the libation was intended for Refaeli herself and the formula for her first daughter, Liv.
Judging by the ire on social media, Refaeli might as well have pledged her undying loyalty to Hezbollah. To suggest that she was forgoing breastfeeding and opting instead for a nice glass of Pinto Grigio struck many as sacrilegious. Far from apologetic, Refaeli continued to advocate for her parenting philosophy, which she summarized in an interview with an Israeli magazine earlier this year: “I can’t be with my kid all day long. I believe that there are people for whom that works, but I don’t understand how it’s possible…. Because you don’t have a moment to yourself. I want to fly, to go on vacation, to be with my husband. The most important thing to me when Liv was born is that our couplehood doesn’t disappear, that romance won’t die, that I don’t feel as if something is being taken away from me.”
With each new transmission from Refaeli’s world—photos from a getaway with her husband in the Maldives, say, sans baby—came a new wave of outrage. And now that baby number two has arrived, so have the requisite op-eds. To some, Refaeli is the embodiment of the feminist ideal, a highly successful professional who balances her career and her family to the detriment of none, giving her daughters a good role model of strong, independent womanhood. To others, she’s either an unfit parent who would rather indulge in the dolce vita than do the hard work of childrearing, a spoiled millionaire who buys her way out of unpleasant duties the rest of us must muddle through, or some combination of both.
Because it’s Monday, and because the world hardly needs more rage these days, let’s leave the debate for ogres online and wish the new mother and her family a very hearty mazal tov.