“Hollywood” is known for story telling and creating illusion. It has become hard to believe that at one time this was an art that was shown brilliantly on stage or the silver screen. Today, unfortunately, many of the stories told are created less brilliantly and more so to sell tabloid stories that have become somewhat of a spectator sport, unfairly crossing over into real lives. We have forgotten just how beautiful the truth can be.
Victoria Beckham recently mentioned in an interview that she and her family were learning some sign language to better communicate with a family friend. News of this made its way around the world at warp speed. Of course the quick “easy sell” were the “funny” aspects; that the kids were learning naughty words, etc., over looking a greater message. When Victoria and I discussed this in person, she mentioned that she really had hoped to communicate something different. She was proud and excited to be learning about Deaf Culture and had only hoped that her mention of this would inspire others interest in Sign Language/Deaf Culture.
This prompted us to write our first Victoria Beckham/Productive Silence article.
When a woman has the style and poise that Victoria Beckham has we don’t want to believe that she could be kind and funny too. We’ve all been told not to judge a book by its cover, but we still do. Well, Victoria is kind and funny, and believe or not, not only does she have an amazing smile… but she smiles A LOT!
People seemed to find it surprising (and refreshing) that she was so compassionate and considerate. I wanted to know how she felt that people often suggest their unfair judgments or speculations of her as truths rather than comments like these. This interview was a chance to set the record straight. She said, “At times it can and has been frustrating but the older you get the more you learn about yourself and others. You learn to focus on what matters and who matters the most. For me it’s not about changing people’s perceptions, but raising awareness and using the voice I have to really try and make a difference.”
Being Deaf, we are also frequently subject to “unjustly applied opinions or assumptions” by other’s. Is this why Victoria related to me, because she too knows how this feels? It was evident that her actions spoke louder than words. “When I was younger I was bullied at school and I felt very lonely…”‘ she said. After years of being subject to judgment, Victoria truly treats others as she hopes to be treated. When discussing this she said, “My family is not judgmental and that was the case with Martin, we felt an instant easiness with him.”
The Deaf community stood up and took “pleasantly surprised” notice of Victoria’s kindness to one of their very own and was touched by her interest in and respect of Sign Language and Deaf Culture. In fact, Victoria was very interested in understanding Deaf Culture, so much so that we have had in depth conversations about this with her and her family, including her parents- who also picked up some sign language.
When we first met, we were in a group of about 10 mutual friends. I expressed previously the feelings that come along with being the only Deaf person in a social setting, including often feeling left out. The day we met, Victoria chose to make a point to acknowledge me, include me, but further more, She prompted the entire group to do so- even asking that I show everyone some Sign Language.
“I took an instant liking to Martin because I could sense he is a kind, thoughtful, warm, generous person. I wanted everyone to feel welcome and included, it wasn’t a conscious decision to include Martin because he couldn’t hear, it wouldn’t of made any difference, I just wanted him to feel welcome and be included,” she said.
I was also impressed as I think the world was also, to learn, how she shared this with her children and encouraged them to address me with the language with which I communicate. What an amazing message it is to share with your children, to honor and respect diversity! To understand rather than to ignore!
When asked why she chose to share this story with the world, “After meeting Martin, David, the boys and myself wanted to find a way to communicate with him. We found learning sign language really enjoyable and extremely educational. It also helps to teach acceptance of others and that underneath it all we are all trying to be understood,” she said.
“I had never known a deaf person before Martin. To me deaf means a world without sound and as someone who loves music I can’t imagine a world without sound. However I do feel that the absence of sound might allow people to focus on simple truths and eliminate extra confusion in communication.” she said, when asked what Deaf meant to her, further communicating the point of this interview- the simple truths.
Truth be known, this is no random act of kindness. David and Victoria support and lend their voices to many great causes around the world, including UNICEF and Save the Children.
“I love getting involved and I’m lucky to be able to make a difference where I can,” Victoria Beckham said.
10 Questions with Victoria Beckham
PS: What does silence mean to you?
VB: Although silence can be extremely powerful and peaceful at certain times, I can also imagine silence could be a very lonely place.
PS: Have you ever felt silenced, by someone else, a situation, or by the world, that your voice did not matter? When and how?
VB: Many times at school when I was younger and bullied by the other children I felt silenced and that my voice didn’t matter.
PS: How did this (above) make you feel?
VB: Lonely and scared.
PS: How did you find the strength to go against the limits that were imposed upon you?
VB: I focused on my strengths and my love of dance. I also focused on my family life with my parents, sister and brother.
PS: How do you stand up for yourself on a daily basis?
VB: I just tried to keep out of the way ignore the negatives and focus on my family and schoolwork.
PS: What do you feel is your greatest quality?
VB: I’m a really good mother and wife, because my family is everything to me.
PS: How are you most misunderstood?
VB: Most people in my position are misunderstood, because some people tend to believe whatever they read in the media, they don’t know the real me. As you get older your priorities change and you learn to focus on what is important, I am a positive and happy person, someone who believes the glass is half full, never half empty.
PS: Please define yourself?
VB: I’m a very focused, loving, caring and passionate person. I treat other people how I would like to be treated. That’s the way I was brought up and how I try to bring up my own children. I’m a spiritual person and I believe in the power of positive energy, I put out there what I would like to get back. I consider myself really blessed and I want to share my voice and help as many people as I can. That is why I have agreed to do this interview with you.
PS: How do you hope to leave your mark on the world? How do you hope to be remembered?
VB: All that really matters to me is my family so I want to be remembered as a good mother and wife. Professionally I would like to be the person who made women look and feel beautiful and confident.
You are a role model to us for two very important reasons.
First, the mission statement of this site Productive Silence begins with:
“Productive Silence is for anyone whoever thought that their voice was not loud enough to be heard, who did not think they alone could make a difference, or felt they did not matter.”
We the deaf community do have a voice, an important voice, thank you for recognizing and embracing us, for choosing to educate yourself rather than just judge us.
Secondly, you do not define yourself by what other’s think of you. Nor do you allow those definitions to hold you back. You have gone from Pop Star, to Fashion Icon and Philanthropist, to designer and now one the most respected fashion brands in the world, but first always being a Wife, a Mother, and a dear friend.
You are our definition of a modern role model.
Thank you for lending your voice to ours!
-Martin Ritchie, founder of Productive Silence
Productive Silence (Through ZigaZig-ha.com)