This thoughtful case for mounting a lifelong challenge to our own assumptions focuses on unconscious bias – but leaves overt prejudice largely unexamined
We often think of bias as a problem that other people have. It’s harder to find someone willing to admit to it in themselves. That was what struck me reading American journalist Jessica Nordell’s thoughtful book, The End of Bias, which I picked up at the same time as being absorbed in the new reality TV series My Unorthodox Life. The show follows Julia Haart, a New Yorker who in her 40s left an ultra-Orthodox Jewish community to transform herself into a global fashion magnate. Her new life is remarkable, but her reflections on her old one are just as fascinating. Haart has spent decades asking herself why her world is the way it is, and the role she plays in making it that way. Today, she has no qualms about striding into her former Orthodox neighbourhood in shorts and a low-cut top, whatever people may think. It’s not as easy for others to make that leap, though.
In one scene, Haart’s adult daughter, who has previously only worn skirts, in keeping with Haredi custom, reveals that her husband is nervous about her decision to try jeans for the first time. Haart’s response is that it isn’t a man’s business to decide what any woman wears. But, as her daughter patiently explains, if she is going to move away from some of the values with which she was raised, she would rather do it with the support of the man she loves – even if that means it takes a little longer.