Adi Heyman joins Healthful Woman to discuss her experience as a creative director in the fashion industry, blogger, and social media influencer while dressing modestly. Adi explains converting to Orthodox Judaism as a child, her journey through the fashion industry in New York, and why modesty makes her feel empowered.
“Empowerment Through Modesty” – with Adi Heyman
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Dr. Fox: Welcome to today’s episode of “Healthful Woman,” a podcast designed to explore topics in women’s health at all stages of life. I’m your host, Dr. Nathan Fox, an OB/GYN and maternal-fetal medicine specialist practicing in New York City. At “Healthful Woman,” I speak with leaders in the field to help you learn more about women’s health, pregnancy, and wellness. Adi Heyman, thank you so much for coming on the podcast. I appreciate it. So nice to talk to you.
Adi: Good to be here. It’s such an honor.
Dr. Fox: Well, thank you so much. So you’re a lot of things, you are a social media sensation. You are a stylist, you’re a journalists, you’re an activist, you’re a wife and a mother. What do you do professionally?
Adi: My primary focus within the fashion industry is I do creative direction. And I do creative strategy, kind of behind the scenes with brands, particularly in this social, digital space, creating community around things having been in the industry for so many years, over a decade. I am a strategic thinker, I have a lot of experience in this space, I guess, because I started before…my blog originally launched before Instagram. And then I’ve kind of ridden that, and I don’t know, it’s something that it was always a really natural fit, aligning my own brand, when I had one, whether it was the blog, or whether it was the Modest Fashion, all of that with community giveback, goodwill. And nowadays, I think a lot of brands and even personalities are looking to create a really transparent, really authentic aligned message to the following and within that creative community, but also the awareness of giveback, goodwill. But done in a really authentic way that resonates and creates impact and, kind of, pushes the needle in different spaces.
So I work as a strategist behind the scenes with brands, and I love doing that. For me, it’s always, “Where are we going? And how do we get there?” And then achieving that goal with people and being the believer and the creative that can really support that is super inspiring for me. And also, I like the quick turnover, different clients, I like to jump around like that and put my energy in different spaces. Community-wise, I stay really present on my Instagram. I mean, don’t post all the time, but I do keep it active. And I do share my voice primarily that is focused in my own community. And it spans outside the Jewish realm. But I do feel I am a voice for Jewish women and fashion professionals and activists, whatever it may be that I have been a representation for that in the past and in the press, and I feel that responsibility, but I also see it as an opportunity.
So in that space, I guess influencer, like I said, I continue to share my voice. I do podcasts like this, because I think it’s important, and I converted to Judaism. I’m a big advocate of religion. And I think it’s great. And so for me, it’s, you know, we were to be a light and I love to share that positivity of the things that inspire me and I feel are important with others.
Dr. Fox: Yeah, there’s so much there to unpack. And I just think it’s fascinating. And that’s why I’m so happy to talk to you because I just find who you are and what you do so interesting because on the one hand, for example, like the thing that just sort of stares me in the face is you have this immense popularity. I mean, there’s like 50,000 people who follow you on Instagram, but you’re not a traditional…what we call influencer professionally. I mean, you do have influence, so I guess you are an influencer, but it’s not your career where you, sort of, place brands for people. Correct?
Adi: Right. My Instagram is a personal account. I am not paid or I don’t accept any sponsorship proposal. It’s not even I mean, in my byline I think even in my description, it says non-sponsored content. So anything I’m sharing is just my own, whether it be passion, whether it be purpose, or personal style, it’s just my own endorsement, or encouragement, or inspiration. So no, it’s not…I’m not I would say what is the 2020 version of an influencer. But I did start a blog back in 2010 before the Instagram influencer and, kind of, my work, of course, came over to Instagram and a lot of my content was shared by Instagram, which is invaluable. And so I think in that sense, I probably started out as what the original influencer was because I was, kind of, a disrupter. I was in the fashion industry, yet I said…
Dr. Fox: I like that. You’re the troublemaker.
Adi: I said I’m gonna start my own blog, I’m gonna do it my way I wanna focus it through the lens of Judaism, which is my personal religion, but I don’t want to sacrifice my industry know-how or the level of content creation. I want to stand with an industry and earn a seat at the table, but I wanna do it on my own terms. And I wanna be empowered by my life choices and not defined by them. And that was always my message in fashion. I just modestly…I wear a wig. I converted to Orthodox Judaism. So I’m hugely empowered by that. And I, kind of, shifted that energy to fashion and creating and filling a void of white space.
And I was probably the first, I would say, definitely, the first Orthodox Jewish woman in the industry that stood up and, kind of, took authority of that, and then didn’t compromise. But also created a community around that and a blog and gave other women opportunity to flourish in the space. Without, again, compromising or feeling like their Judaism didn’t have a place in that. I don’t lead, you know, going to fashion week saying, “I’m modest,” but it is who I am. And people know that about me. It’s not something I shy away from. But I also don’t think it makes me special because I dress modestly. It’s like for me, it’s always a balance of craft, industry, hard work, but also that alignment of purpose, passion, and my own lifestyle.
So for me, it was easy. It was a really nice synthesis. And it was able to become a blog and profiled by “The New York Times.” And like I said, it was, kind of, the first of its type. So I guess I was an influencer in that stage, more typical, because it was paid content on my blog, and it was a group of women, you know, we had subscribers, all that. But now I guess I’m an influencer, but I think I’m just old. I think I don’t have a following because it’s…
Dr. Fox: You’re a burnt out influencer.
Adi: Yeah, I’m like the old influencer. But I see, like I said, a platform always as a gift and as an opportunity, and very much responsibility.
Dr. Fox: Your message obviously resonates. And that’s why I wanted to have you on the podcast. Because first of all, obviously, if there’s that many people who are tuning in to hear what you have to say and what you have to post, they find it valuable and meaningful. And so that alone is a reason why you’re an influencer. But also, I cannot begin to tell you how many people told me, “Oh, you have to have Adi in your podcast.” And I’m like, “Well, who is she?” I’m like, “I don’t know anything about fashion. I’m like, literally the antithesis of it.” But my wife is like, “Oh, you have to have Adi.” My daughter’s like, “Oh, you have to have her.” And then I had Fortunate Dushey on the podcast, she’s like, “Oh, you have to have Adi.” And then, Elizabeth Slivinski is like, “Oh, you have to have Adi.” And everyone’s telling me to have you on the podcast because your story is so interesting.
But it’s not just because it’s interesting. It’s how impactful you have been for people by using your story, your journey, your passions, and putting them out there in a way that obviously people listen to or they love it. And so I wanted to talk about that to give our listeners a chance to hear who you are, and what you do, and how you came to where you are. So you have a very interesting personal journey. I know you get asked this all the time. But how did a girl from Texas who was Christian end up being a Modern Orthodox or an Orthodox Jew who’s dressing modestly and wearing a wig and writing about this? That’s quite a shift.
Adi: Yeah, for me, it’s just my life journey. But it is, you know, there’s a lot of curiosity around that, rightfully so. It’s not typical. For me, it’s all I know. And sitting here at 39 years old, almost, 38 years old, in retrospect, I see tremendous value in it, tremendous lessons. I mean, in living a life like that where you do switch religions. The story is my parents are both very spiritual beings, raised us as Christians in Texas. My family comes from a very typical long line of Americans. I have great uncles who played in Super Bowls. My father was a big athlete. My mom was the cheerleader. Her family’s very affiliated to religious Christianity. A lot of pastors and preachers, her brother’s a preacher. So we grew up very God-conscious, very all-American.
We actually grew up in the country I was homeschooled as a young child. So it was around animals. I didn’t know anything about fashion. I didn’t grow up knowing anything about New York, but it was…I grew up very, kind of, in our own bubble in Texas. I wouldn’t say in a bad way, maybe more idyllic way just like it was animals and playing outside and wearing blue jeans and a ponytail type. And homeschool and a lot of God. My parents, again, we’re very spiritual. So we were very God-conscious and aware and went to church every Sunday and Bible schools. And then my parents journey led them, kind of, through different sects of Christianity, and eventually out of Christianity. And I think the motivation was this drive for truth. And the more they learned, the more questions they had, and that religious journey.
Dr. Fox: So it was more of a search towards something then moving away from something else.
Adi: Yeah, I think it was just the more affiliated and entrenched in Christianity they became…and my father was not raised religious, he was raised very secular. When he married my mom, he right away became much more devout in his practice. And I think because my family has leaders in the church and in Christianity, that was…you know, my mom and dad were Mary and Joseph in the Christmas play type of thing. You know, just by virtue that my grandparents were very involved in the church, again, my uncle is a preacher, my great uncle. It was just, kind of, in the blood. And so my father, they’re doing all these classes, and eventually, like they probably would lead classes at church.
He had a lot of questions. And I guess he felt like these questions weren’t being answered in a way that was fulfilling him. And it’s not, I think, a move away from what wasn’t good. I think it was more it didn’t resonate, maybe. And he felt like, this might not be the right fit for me. And so to go into, like I said, different sects of Christianity, and then even into different religions outside of that, and ultimately, and Judaism, and we didn’t even know Jewish, like practicing Jewish people existed. We thought they were, like, Bible people. Like, I didn’t grew up knowing about Orthodox Jews. I just didn’t. It was…
Dr. Fox: Hard to imagine now, right?
Adi: Yeah. Especially living in New York. I mean, really, I think it was…
Dr. Fox: Right. You’re like, “Don’t you see us in the airports and in Disney World? Like, we’re everywhere.”
Adi: Yeah, I didn’t grow up traveling like that. I probably would have thought costume or garb. I don’t know what I would have thought. But like I said, I didn’t grow up traveling like that. It was more of a quiet…you know, my grandfather is a farmer, we grew up in a different world. So eventually Orthodox Judaism. And it happens to be in San Antonio, Texas, where I was born there is an orthodox synagogue, and there is a Rabbi Sheinberg, who’s known for his conversions of Orthodox. And there’s a Chabad there as well that is amazing. And we, kind of, got in with the community, and they were like, “You’re crazy. You don’t wanna convert with four kids.” And, you know, like, “No, no, no.” And my parents were like, “Well, yeah, it seems…” So we, kind of, started learning more doing more, and eventually, our whole family converted.
Dr. Fox: How old were you at the time?
Dr. Fox: What did you 12-year-old think about this? Were you in? We’re you like, “Yeah, this is awesome?” Or like, “What is going on here?”
Adi: No, I mean, it was a gradual transition. I think we all as a family very much do have a spirituality and believe in God and a higher being and that is our faith. And so Judaism is not that different to Christianity minus a few things. The Old Testament, I mean, I knew by heart in English the names of all the Old Testament books, New Testament books, all the different psalms. I mean, we were like…we got in, we were like, “Oh, this is easy. You guys don’t need to know any of the prophets after that time? Or you don’t have to know any of the New Testament scripture?” We knew all of this. So it was English, not Hebrew, but it was very similar. And I think my parents made a great decision in after we converted moving to Miami Beach, Florida, which was a vibrant Jewish community…
Dr. Fox: And you were like, “Ah, here is where they are.”
Adi: Yeah. It offered education and opportunities and a lot of different options. My siblings, and I didn’t all go to the same school. And so Miami was a great move. We all chose our own Hebrew names, and we actually went and my parents had to legally change our names. So it’s interesting to choose…to, I guess, have a choice in those things in your life.
Dr. Fox: Yeah, what was your name before?
Dr. Fox: Amber, and how’d you pick Adi?
Adi: I mean, very simple. I picked up a Hebrew dictionary, the Milon, the like blue and orange one, the little one, and I looked at the Hebrew transliteration of Amber and it was like Ambar, and Adi was one of them because I guess the jewel, and the sap, and the gem, and I was just like, “Adi, I like it. I like my initial.” I was like, “You know, I don’t know you’re, kind of, attached to your name. That’s your name.” So I wanted to stay A, and I just chose Adi and that was it. So we moved to Miami and that really…they all said we were Jewish and, like, started wearing skirts and we didn’t really know Hebrew. So that was interesting what you find out in retrospect, but we streamlined it.
I went to Hebrew Academy, I learned [foreign language 00:14:54], I learned [foreign language 00:14:55]. I jumped in, made good friends. Like I said, a great community, restaurants. It was as a modern Judaism that…it was an easy Judaism based on out-of-town Judaism where you don’t have all that support. From there, I just went to Israel after high school. I went to [inaudible 00:15:10] and then to Touro College and then came to New York and went to college. And then I met my husband and I married in Orthodox Jew, and kinda that’s been the road.
Dr. Fox: You went to the mothership.
Adi: I love New York. I mean, I love Jewish New York, but I love New York, New York.
Dr. Fox: Yeah. And New York fashion also.
Adi: Well, I didn’t major in fashion.
Dr. Fox: You were a journalist first, right?
Adi: I majored in journalism, I actually finished Touro really quickly in two years. Because I ended up not getting credit from Israel. It was like a crazy year, so like, it was the year…it was back in 2000, 2001, when there was like a lot of terrorist attacks, and the Sbarro bombing and all that. So I ended up coming back in December, not going back. So I didn’t get credit. So I ended up just going to Touro and, like, doubling up on everything, finishing really quickly. Because I wanted to be in a Jewish…I was in an all-girls school here in Manhattan, in that environment. And then I was set to go to Columbia for journalism. And then I ended up getting married and, kind of, everything shifted.
And so my passion was always writing, and fashion I didn’t really know that much about but to stay in New York, my husband and I wanted to be here, I needed to get a job. And it happened to be the job I got was in fashion. And it was such…it was just kismet. And it was serendipitous that it even fell in my lap because it was my creative side really, kind of, connecting in with something I’d never experienced. But I was just so welcomed to immediately and I felt such a part of and I loved it. Like, not necessarily the fashion of it as in brands and logos and all of that more commercial market, but more the creative that is lent to whether it’s the commercial market, or the creative side, or the direction, or the writing, it’s just to me all of it have made a lot of sense. And I was good at it, so…
Dr. Fox: I mean, I was gonna segue into your professional journey, but you did it naturally, which is great. So I see your personal journey, your professional journey, and one of the things you’re very well known for is this idea of empowerment but through modesty. And how do you see that as maybe merging your personal journey with your professional journey that you’re taking this concept of like modest dress, which is a…it’s not only an Orthodox Jewish concept, but it is prevalent there. But on top of that, this idea of fashion and empowerment, and sort of self-esteem and putting those together, which a lot of people found really interesting and really new. How did you get into that?
Adi: Well, for me, it was one in the same. I’m, by nature, the type of person that if I’m going to do something in my life, I actively choose it. I wanna be an active participant in my life, I want to love my life, I want to stand accountable to my decisions. And I think a choice to be modest or an Orthodox Jew in adherence with the laws of Shabbat, kosher, or whatever it may be, I did not see those as confining. I saw them as life choices that were important to me that I felt like brought benefit to my life. So I didn’t ever feel imprisoned by maybe the rules or the constraints or dictates they presented because it just created for me the life I believed in, and aspired to, and wanted to grow. And so my modesty was just a part of that. You wanna be in shape, you go to the gym. You want to eat clean, you have a certain diet. Whatever it is that’s important to you in your life, I think, in general, people have to be really willing to stand up and take ownership of that and actually find a positive empowerment in it.
And so for my modesty, it was always that. I saw it as maybe different. I didn‘t see it as mainstream, but I never saw it as a negative. I actually found it really empowering within the industry because it gave me a really honed point of view. When you walk into a store, and you can wear anything on a rack, or you sit at a runway, and you could potentially get anything next season, it’s like, wow, where do you fit into that space? But when you create, or your choices like modesty have created more scope for you and eliminated some choices, it gives you a stronger point of view. And I think that’s a valuable lesson that extends into different areas of my life and profession. So, my modesty, people began…10 years, 8 years into this job, people were noticing how I dressed and I was photographed quite often. I was voted in New York best dressed. Yet I never really led with modesty. I was just wearing the clothes I wanted to wear.
And so a lot of Jewish people were like, “How are you doing this? How are you coming up with this? And I just was like, “You know, there’s so much out there. And it’s just a matter of, kind of, having your own distinct style and recognizing that and staying true to your individuality.” And modesty was out there, it just wasn’t being collectively shown. And that was the impetus for my blog, that it was a curation of this stuff, kind of, served you on a platter. If you wanna see the runways of next fall, that’s what my blog presented, it presented all this information in concise form, trend-casting, or informative articles on relevant topics in the fashion industry. But it all aligned with whether it was a photo used or the trend given, it was with a modest photo from whether it be a runway, or a design, or a link to a shop, or whatever it may be.
But for me, it was always in my head that way, just like I just picked out what worked for me, I wore it, it empowered me and I loved it. I knew what I wanted to be. And therefore I really learned to love the process of getting there. And that was styling, and that was figuring it out on my own, street style, you know, and kinda it was a lot of fun. And like you said, I think the industry was so receptive of the work I was doing, and so encouraging that it really was that much more empowering to have that community around me.
Dr. Fox: Do you think that the fact that you chose, or your family chose, a religion, a certain place within that religion, that you might view it differently from someone who was born into it, so to speak? I mean, this idea that you’re like, it’s empowering that I choose to dress modestly, do you think that that’s influenced by the fact that you essentially chose to enter that world originally?
Adi: I do. But I don’t think it should be. But I do.
Dr. Right. I mean, it may just be easier for you.
Adi: Having grown up in a different religion, having seen the world in a very different way, and it’s not a bad world, it’s a different world, it’s a different choice and knowing you don’t have to fully identify with your decisions, you can change knowing you can be open to possibilities, and that creates an expansive world. And not only learning that, but living that and knowing that as my childhood, I do not live imprison by many things in my own life. I do not have a lot of anxiety, a lot of fears. I really think if anybody else is doing it, if Adi Heyman wanted to do it, if I feel like I had the skill set and I was willing to do the work, I should probably do it because we’re all just humans. And I think my faith gives me a lot of that confidence because I am a hard worker. But I always at a certain point, give it to HaShem, or God, or universe, however people wanna…you know, for me, it’s HaShem.
But so I think I live in a very, like I said, expansive mindset where I’m just constantly aware that the sky’s the limit, and it’s okay to pivot, and it’s actually essential to pivot. But it’s okay to say why, or how, or to be curious. By nature, I’m extremely curious. I’m just intrigued. I love other humans. As you mentioned like everybody was saying, “You got to interview Adi.” If you asked me why so many people said, “You got to interview Adi,” is because behind the scenes, I work and build a community with a lot of people, and I give my heart and soul to them. I’m a big believer in other humans. And even my blog, I took it right away from being just a platform where Adi Heyman’s a blogger to saying, “How do I create a foundation for other women to stand on? And how do we aggregate this group that’s empowered, that it helps one another and uplift each other?” You know, for me, it’s never a competition. It’s always collaboration.
And so I don’t know, I always am curious, and I’m always aware that I may not have all the answers, but I think they’re out there. And when you have a genuine heart an authentic reason, HaShem will meet you, you’ll get that no matter what religion you are. But for me, my faith is always, kind of, that tipping point of where I let go and having that trust that frees me from a lot of worry and, like I said, anxiety or not even trusting myself. Like, you gotta go with your intuition. And I think for me, my intuition is tied into my spirituality, my purpose is tied into spirituality, that’s all really aligned for me, and it’s my North Star, my religion is, and that’s why I think I stay so true to my Judaism, and I also feel a need to voice it or to give back with activism to community. Or just, to me, it’s a stabilizer and it’s grounding.
And I think whether it be modesty or my professional, whatever it may be, where you were saying how not to be confined or feel like it’s not doable, I think we’re looking at it the wrong way. I sit on so many panels and I’m asked that question, “How is modesty not a detriment in the industry? How is Judaism not a detriment?” And I look at people and I say, “Detriment to you or me? To me, it’s all perspective. I see huge empowerment. If I didn’t, I wouldn’t choose to be it. Why would I sign me, and my son, and my husband…why would we all sign up for this very difficult life that didn’t offer fulfillment and purpose and reward? And to me, it is hugely rewarding, my Judaism.”
Dr. Fox: I think it’s how people view empowerment. And I think that for some people, they look at empowerment and they think it means getting to the top of whatever that is, right? Whether it’s a career or whether it’s, you know, I don’t know an achievement of some sorts. And for others, empowerment means I’m gonna be the face of this, I wanna be out there. And for other people, and I think the way you view it, and I think it’s the correct way to view it, empowerment is, sort of, living your life in the way that’s meaningful to you, right. It’s a personal journey, or it’s a communal journey, it’s a family journey. And what’s empowering to one person is not gonna be for somebody else.
I mean, it’s the same concept of like just from an American perspective, freedom, right. Freedom and liberties, the idea that you’re able to chart your own course in your life, and if being adherent to a certain religion and modest and following those rules is someone’s guiding light, that is empowering even if someone else might view it as almost oppressive. It’s a really interesting thing, but people have to realize empowerment is a personal decision, and it’s not a judgment on somebody else.
Adi: Right. Exactly. It’s completely personal. And in my work with creative direction and strategy with brands, I can’t tell you how many very successful people I meet, or I work with, that are hugely successful to the outside world. But for some reason, they’re wanting someone to come in and shake up their work and their strategy and their impact on community because they’re not fulfilled. And I think you can align, I’m all about success, if you want to get somewhere and you know where you need to be, if you break it down, you can be there. Practice makes pattern, pattern creates impact. I mean, I’m such a believer in you can do what you want to do as a human, but you have to know where you wanna be, and you have to be willing to do the work.
And so what I have seen in working with, like I said, from the outside world, very successful individuals, is that if they’re not fulfilled or feeling like they are accomplishing purpose, whatever that means, or they’re aligned in their creative, their work, their spiritual, whatever it is, even if they become, like you said, the face of that, or even if they make all that money, or whatever it may be, it’s not always…it’s usually not enough. They want to feel fulfilled in a positive way as a human. And I can’t stress the importance to yes, it’s so great and it’s so necessary. And I think it’s hugely empowering to know where you wanna be and to whatever in your mind is successful. But don’t negate the fact that you as a human, how you feel, what you lean into that, you know, if you align that with your hustle and your grind, you can accomplish something that’s not only hugely successful, but hugely fulfilling. And I think that’s the...to me, that’s ultimate empowerment. I want it all.
Dr. Fox: Yeah, and I think that also this idea that since you have such value on your own personal journey and how you view empowerment, I think it seems to me that it’s probably the reason that, as you said before, you love humans, that you’re so comfortable collaborating with, and interacting with, and working with, and being around people from really all different walks of life because you’re able to see and help them on their own individual journeys, and you’re not trying to put yours on to theirs.
Adi: Right. Probably I don’t need to be the focus. In fact, I’m happiest and most fulfilled behind the scenes, knowing the impact I’m creating, knowing in different ways I’m influencing an industry to be where I believe and I know it should be, and at least in my path. And I think, sadly, I always write on my Instagram and I’m a big advocate of stronger together. And I think people if they realized how much power comes in partnership collaboration community, I mean, it’s a game-changer. To stand on your own and to feel threatened by others or to feel like lending something to someone else would take away from you or anything like that is just foolish and a waste of time if you’re really wanting to play in the big leagues. I just think you have to know where you wanna be. I think for me, my goal is not to have a million followers on Instagram. I rarely even post. Most people don’t know what I do. I don’t talk about my clients, I don’t…Like, my stuff…my life is my life. And for me, that works. For other people, they do it their way and that works. But I just feel like for me, I do it my way. And at the end of the day, I come home happy.
And for a while when I think I started my blog and then things came at me really fast. I was offered a reality TV show, I was offered book deals, I was offered, at a young age, a lot of very big opportunities, and I did not take them. I remember the president of IMG, Ivan Bart, called me and I met with him in his office and he’s like, “Where do you wanna be? “And he’s like, “What did you wanna accomplish with this blog? Or with this or that?” And I was just like, “I just wanted to share my thoughts.” Like, there was no preconceived…I had no idea all this was gonna blow up. Like, this was just me sharing my craft and my heart. And I think in some ways, young Adi wanting to create a community that was like-minded to her because when I first got into fashion…you know, I do, just by nature, think differently. Like you said, “Does your story impact how you view things based…rather than a traditional community member?” Yes, of course it does. My treatment by the Jewish community impacts how I interact as a convert even with the Jewish community. And I didn’t know a lot of religious women that were doing what I was doing at a young age, and I wasn’t gonna walk away because I felt I was succeeding, I knew I was, and I felt valued in it.
And I also just felt it was naturally something I was really great at. And that was fulfilling. So I think with my blog, was kind of opening up. I mean, I could name like…when I started, there weren’t really many modest designers. Most of these girls that have brands now, I worked with, I took their clothing, I wore it to Fashion Week, I got it photographed, I’d make sure it was in “Vogue” or whatever, they got to tag it, they got the articles. I mean, we played a really good game, and we made it happen. And it wasn’t by chance. The brands that are in existence now, it’s like, we made the Jewish community have a space in the fashion scene. And we used all the tools each of us had to do it. And I think I created that community because I needed that community. And now it is a vibrant part and there are lots of typical fashion influencers from the religious world. And it’s become, obviously, with digital and the growth of all that as well, it’s now a whole new platform, industry, community. When I started, there wasn’t anyone in the space. I didn’t know other religious people doing what I was doing, at all.
Dr. Fox: Right. I wanna go back to something you said before because it struck something I wanna ask you about. It might seem like a strange pivot, but you were talking about this idea of letting people be individuals and working with them, and it’s all good. And I was just struck immediately, because this is going on in the news right now, what are your thoughts on all this canceling of stuff, cancel culture, and all this? Because it just sounded to me like you were speaking almost directly to that even though you weren’t.
Adi: I mean, I think it’s ridiculous. I mean, I think cancel culture, like at inception, like any disruption, I think it’s a way to hold people accountable. From a group of people that don’t maybe have the voice, as in if somebody did something, originally cancel culture…I mean, what it is now is not what I’m talking about. But originally, it’s the public can call out a celebrity that maybe did something, said something, lied about something, and say, “Listen, we’re not a power, but we are the community and we can boycott you, we can rally, we can demand justice, even though we’re not in a place of political power or social power.” And I’m a fan of that. I think everybody should have a voice. I think, again, stronger together. But what I think we’ve seen in the last year, particularly, and what it spun into, is something that is just crucifying society. I mean, we literally are just burning each other at the stake.
So I think people either are ultra aggressive with cancellations, which I think, you know, who are we to judge? If someone does something across the board wrong that is societal…outside of the societal norm of acceptance, then yeah, you can call that out. But when you have a media that’s biased, when you have big tech that’s biased, openly biased, unregulated at this point, and it’s not an honest fight right now. You know, people are suffering without a voice. And we’ve just seen in the last year, what I think has been hugely unintegrated, especially as a journalist, what’s going on in the media. And cancel culture has just become, I think, a way of bullying, to like, it’s a power game and it’s a way to keep people quiet. And I know so many influencers who won’t stand up and say anything about it because they’re scared of getting cancelled, and they make their money from their posts, and their clothing, or whatever they do, and collaboration partnership, and/or designers I work with that won’t take a stand, but they feel really passionately about things that are going on in different capacities that aren’t right.
But there’s no space for that. And they’re too scared because of this narrative that’s been created that’s being kind of, I guess, empowered by certain groups that it’s crazy to me, the cancel culture. I think it’s like, we all are entitled…and I actually had coffee with a friend this morning, who’s a very talented chef, and I love her dearly. But we were talking about this, and she seems very unpolitical, and I don’t get really political either. But we were just saying cancel culture is…like, who are we to judge? When did we become a nation or a community of people that weren’t allowed to have our own mindset, that weren’t allowed to question, that weren’t allowed to, God forbid, make a mistake? You know, and my question, I posted on canceling months ago, and my question was like, “Okay, cancel culture, but where’s the rulebook? And can we uncancel the canceled? And how much work do they have to do to be re-accepted? And when do we slander? And when do we…?”
Like, to me, it felt out of whack this whole year, that everything was…there’s no rhyme or reason. I have a huge issue with social media at this point. I have a huge issue with big tech, with the monopoly on Instagram, and Facebook and all of that, I think it’s a joke. I think Google, I think Twitter, I think we’re not even being shown half the information we should see. So it’s not even like it’s so biased. We don’t even know the difference. You know, and that’s scary to me. I think the scariest thing that came out of this past year was knowing that someone else is in control of the information we are being given. And that when you go on Google and type in a question, you’re being given the information you can sort through. So what am I not being given? What am I not aware of? It’s more than editing out I’m worried about than what I’m being given.
So, I think for me, Instagram right now is hard, and I haven’t been posting as much, and it’s a huge tool and a gift. And I hope I don’t feel like I feel for too much longer. But I think we shouldn’t be so silent to be controlled by people we know don’t necessarily have our best interest in heart. You’re a consumer on Instagram. And I think, you know, I spoke about this years ago, just as an influencer, on influencer panels to people saying, “This is a consumer-driven market, it was created after gambling, it and induces a reaction the same as drugs.” Like, the most important influence…your influencer status rises if you can keep more people clicking because then they can be shown more ads and retargeted. And data is the most expensive commodity in the world at this point.
And I think on the flip side of that, we create these echo chambers, affirming our beliefs by creating our own accounts following the people that are like-minded. And it’s just, to me, it’s the whole web that’s just scary because we’re closing ourselves off to possibility, and to information, and to just having like our asses kicked by something that blows our mind, or something that makes us rethink and question something we’re accepting and living our life by. And I think that’s essential to humans, that we have those considerations constantly thrown at us. And I think when you’re sitting scrolling, there’s a million reasons why you’re not having any of that.
Dr. Fox: Yeah, I mean, I think that what you said is really true that on the one hand, there’s this noble concept of, “Hey, we’re the consumers, people ought to be accountable for their actions for what they say.” And so someone gets up and does something or says something that’s horrific, it’s totally fine to say, “Hey, like, that’s disgusting. You’re insulting me and my community and my family and this. And I’m not gonna stand for. Like, I’m not gonna, purchase your product, I’m not gonna see your movie, whatever it is.” And I think, all right, fine. Like, that’s great. Like, that’s a people protest. And that’s a beautiful thing. And that’s an American concept.
But I think it’s, sort of, you know, it can obviously, be taken too far. And I think a lot of people believe it has been taken too far that if we start going into people’s past and things they said 10 years ago that at a different time, different place, or when they were young and stupid. And all of us have done dumb things in our lives and said dumb things. And then it’s like, “We’re gonna bring it out and we’re gonna out somebody,” or this idea that like, “Oh, there’s something in this book or movie that I don’t like, so we’re never gonna show it anymore.” And it’s like weird. I don’t know. I mean, I understand if, like, if I was gonna come into someone’s living room and say, “Hey, I’m gonna read this book and you bet listen to me,” all right, fine, kick me out. You don’t wanna hear the book it offends you. But like otherwise, like, what do you care if I read it to my kid 1000 miles away? It’s like so strange that everyone’s so invested in what everyone else is doing, and thinking, and saying.
Adi: Well, exactly. It feels like a control effort. I mean, you can spin any narrative to support your mission. What I am questioning is why are we allowing people to story-tell and create this narrative where they can cancel people, when honestly, the people that had originally started with aren’t even involved in this? Most of us are just silent. Because like you said, it seems not to be the same thing of what cancel culture originated with. It’s now trying to, like, create a narrative or story-tell with something that may or may not be there, but it should be everybody’s choice. You can bring it to attention, but I don’t think you can force people.
I mean, it’s interesting because I always heard stories about the Holocaust. And I learned the history of it. And for years, people would say, “The Holocaust can happen, you have to be so careful.” And I just didn’t see the Holocaust happening again, I didn’t see it. I was like, “I don’t think it could happen in America because A, B, and C.” And until this past year, where you start seeing things like this, and it’s like, wow, people can change narratives, people of power can start canceling other smaller people. Like, it felt like wow, I see how bias can be created. I see how people can be pitted against each other, I see how leaders can do this. And when you have control of information, partnered without it’s a very sort of scary situation for people.
And we the average person, it’s sad. It’s very sad. I think it’s sad and it’s concerning, and I think everybody wants to go back to normal life. But I think what we’ve seen this year has taught us valuable lessons that are tremendously positive and beneficial and it has also taught us some pitfalls we have in industry or society, whatever it is that we, as people, I think, need to get together and more united on making sure we create a world that we want to be in and we feel safe in it because I don’t think anybody feels like that now. And it’s just the Wild West.
I mean, one day a politician’s God and the next day, he’s getting canceled. And I think everybody just feels like, “Wow, what is he doing that the media is not hiding that?” But what is that person doing that the media is not showing that? Like, it’s all a game, and it’s not really involving the people. It’s, kind of, what we’re being given, but it’s affecting the leadership and the laws being made that is going to affect us as Americans everyday. So it’s like…I think there has to be more accountability. And I talk to a lot of people who just want to return to this normal. And I’m like, normal goddess here, I don’t think, you know, we want, yes, a return to comfort maybe or to be seeing friends and having the typical interactions in life that we have. But I don’t think to return to what we have is working because it got us here. So let’s rethink. And I just…I don’t know. Like, it bothers me. It bothers me a lot. I have issues with it. But I don’t know what the answer is because it seems like most people just talk about it and not much is done.
Dr. Fox: Well, I don’t think there’s one answer to it. I think these are big cultural shifts, and it requires a lot of time to go out of it. But I do think that, sort of, the messages that you’re giving is on an individual level, it’s this idea of not being afraid to build communities and work with others, and to try to bring people into your circle, rather than to push them out of your circle, and to step into other circles, and to just have these connections with other people who are different from you. And then you essentially get to see them as humans and as real people with thoughts, and feelings, and strengths, and weaknesses like we all have ourselves. And I think when people just retract into their own, it becomes problematic because you don’t know anything about the other.
Adi: You said to not be afraid of that. I think quite the opposite. I think we should be inspired and motivated to create community like that because…
Dr. Fox: I’m in, I agree.
Adi: …we’re social beings. I mean, we need tribes, that’s just in our DNA. I mean, you’re a physician, like, that is our science, we should not be isolated, I think we shouldn’t see each other as a threat if our ideal’s different or if we’re in the same industry, you know, whether it’s sameness or differences, wherever it is, I think we should see huge empowerment. Again, we’re back into power, but I think we should see empowerment in the things that make us who we are and want to create powerful communities around that. Not powerful in the sense of control. Powerful in the sense of energy, powerful in the sense of positivity, connection, collaboration, innovation. How do you think industries shift? How do you think ideas happen? People get together who believe, and then they materialize, and they actualize. And that’s the beauty of humans, we have like infinite capacity for that. And two heads are better than one. And I know because I can make a really good living behind the scenes helping people be the best them. So I know two heads are better than one.
Dr. Fox: Who are your role models?
Adi: I think I’m influenced by a diversity of people. But I don’t know, I mean, my role models in terms of, I think, life and like just being really content and grounded and hard work and, kind of, away from the noise definitely goes back to my childhood, and my grandparents, my great-grandparents, like, just that working the land. I think animals, all of that, to me, is hugely grounding. It’s a huge part of who I am, probably the core of who I am. But I think the people that are brave enough to make positive change in different capacities stand out as role models to me. And no matter the space, or industry, or anything, I think anybody who’s willing to be of service to community or to be a free thinker to help others.
I also am very tied to that, my work have positive impact. And to me, time helping another individual outside of a professional capacity is always time well spent. I think we need to be givers. And I think I’ve seen people change as humans because you authentically value and love them and believe in them. And so, I think I do a lot of work in the community. So I think in different capacity, I think certain thinkers, free thinkers, honestly, I don’t have that many role models, but I have influences.
Dr. Fox: Did you ever imagine that you would have such a huge following that you have so many people who look to you?
Adi: No, I still don’t know why people follow me. I never even post on Instagram. And I rarely even post. I think kudos to them, wow, I must be stuck on their feed or something. Like, I don’t follow many people. I just have never have been super into social media. I think maybe because I got into it early and I knew the facade of it, I knew the consumer-driven data behind it, that was always how I saw it. I never came on just to take a pretty picture. Mine was always I already had a blog and a business that leapt onto it. And I was helping other influencers who wrote for my blog grow their following, lead them in our direction. So for me, it was always a curation, it was the same thing as working on a magazine, you know, spread.
So I don’t look at it and think, “Oh, my God, I want that.” Like, I look at that and I think, “Wow, nobody realizes it, but I know what partnership she’s gonna be coming out with in a week, like I can tell already how she’s changing her direct…” Like, that’s how I see it. I see it very strategically. So unless it’s a beautiful image or something artistic and emotional that touches me, I follow, like, cute dog accounts and stuff. I’m like an animal nut. So I don’t know, you know, my son…it’s funny, because not one of my siblings is on Instagram, which is very interesting. They’re not on any social media. And they’re all, like, successful normal humans and none of them are active on any of it. They have accounts, but they never go on. And it’s very interesting. It may be because of how we were raised, I didn’t grew up watching television as a child either. So I don’t know. Interesting.
But I’m flattered that people follow me. And I am jumping back in to some personal projects because I just think our community is amazing. And I think the people, whether the influencers or the leaders itself, or different cities across the world, Israel, we still have ways to go in building out the community, whether it be from an industry standpoint, or even just as an empowerment standpoint. The fact I’m still getting the same questions I got 10 years ago tells me I’m not conveying the message loud enough for those that wanna hear it because they’re asking the questions.
I’m pregnant right now, I’m having a baby pretty soon, and I’m really stepping back. It’s actually my last week of work. And I’m shifting next week to really focus on some personal projects that are focused on community and putting my energy there because I think we need it, I think the world needs it. In general, we all need to be putting our energy back into community and rebuilding, and encouragement, and support. So I’m excited to do that. I am excited to, kind of, get back in that scene. And I think fashion and all of that is always gonna be part of my narrative. And I love it. I don’t define myself by my work in fashion or the brand I’m wearing. But I also don’t shy away from taking ownership of that space and respect for my industry and for luxury fashion, and the aspiration of it all. There’s a lot of value there. So…
Dr. Fox: I wanted to close by asking one last thing and that through all of your fame and you’re using all of this to promote a lot of amazing causes in what you’re doing. But on a personal level, how do you view your own…like, how do you stay grounded in your family? And also what is your view on, like, overall wellness as an individual, physically, spiritually, mentally? Because you’re doing a lot, you’re, kind of, out there in a sense. But you’re also very much in your home and you’re in your own life. And I’m not asking about balance, but how do you even view wellness overall, in terms of your own, and your goals, and what you’re trying to accomplish personally in your own space?
Adi: Well, I think wellness is a very personal, individualized thing, become very commercialized. But I think for me, I listen to my intuition and that guides my journey in wellness. I think we have to actively play a role in being the best version of ourselves because I think we are all spread thin, we’re all doing a lot. I happen to have a lot of energy by nature, I happen to love working. For me, it’s like, I love working, I love the things I do, or again, I wouldn‘t be doing them, I would shift my profession. I don’t want to be an influencer so I’m not. I do other things. I don’t feel caged by much. But I think wellness is listening to yourself. I think if we all could slow a bit, and this year has been, I think that for a lot of people in a lot of capacities, you know, what you need. And I think wellness is hugely important. I think our practices daily are hugely important, like I said, practice makes pattern, pattern creates the fibers of who we are. The little actions every day are who we are every week, and every month, and what we show up for. And to stand accountable to those is just very important.
I think it’s not to be taken lightly how we treat each other, how we treat our spouses, as a mother, like, we need to be modeling ourselves, I believe, after the people we want others to be. I don’t know, you know, I wanna be the best version of myself, I want to suck every incredible energy out of life and live it, and life is so short. And so that to me with wellness is, you know, I have spoken before to life coaches, I do…I mean, I’m pregnant so it’s different. But I’m a runner, and like I’m very into running. And things that find me focus. My family is hugely important to me and grounded. Like my son, and my husband, and I’m having another boy, so I’m a mom of boys, but my boys, they are my home.
And how do I create that priority? By placing priority there and by choosing that. And you said on Instagram, I’m not on that much because I don’t want my son on technology that much. Now, when I’m at work, I’m on tech all day, but it’s like, for me, wellness is what makes you feel well in your life. And I think we have so many options nowadays. We need to silence, we need to hone, we need to pinpoint what practices can we do that create a positive perspective? Or we…I recently was reading a lot about like, we’re a very results-driven society.
But if we could just fall in love with the process of getting there and value that journey, because that journey is actually life for most people. Most people don’t achieve what they want in a few years, it’s usually that is the journey. We need to learn to stop knowing where we wanna be and validating ourself by that and the drudging through the work that actually accomplishes that, like why not celebrate that journey? And I think that is about perspective. Because work isn’t always fun, and work isn’t always easy, and life isn’t always fun or easy. And you said dressing modestly or eating kosher, all of that comes with dictates or constraints. It doesn’t mean because something is challenging that it can’t be hugely positive in your life. That’s how I feel.
So I think wellness is finding like what in your life, what practices keep you focused? What personally…And I think people need to get outside of books, get outside of internet, and podcasts, and all this which are valuable, but they need to be around other humans. Community is huge. Surround yourself with people that inspire you. Surround yourself with people that make you want to level up every day. Surround yourself with people that believe in you, that will change your world. You know, people who are surrounded by others who don’t align with their value set, it’s…I mean, there are people in your life that are important. Don’t get rid of them. But I’m just saying understand that’s not going to build a certain area of you.
I feel like it’s sometimes when wives are like upset at husbands because they’re like, “Well, you didn’t know I wanted this.” But like how would they? Like, they’re very different people and [inaudible 00:55:00] are super similar. And like you said, I don’t know fashion, like, I think we have unrealistic expectations of other people sometimes, but like, evaluate who you’re dealing with in a situation. And when it comes to individuality, which I found is let go of the people that aren’t, like, filling your cup. Like, you wanna surround yourself with positive influences, or it doesn’t need to be same-minded. I’m actually against that I think you need diversity within thought. But I think people that believe.
Dr. Fox: It’s values, having similar values is not the same thing…Listen, you can have someone who’s politically right-wing, politically left-wing, religiously right-wing, religiously left-wing, but you got to have a similar value system. And you could have shared values. You don’t have to have similar ideas of how to reach those values, but if you have similar values, you definitely have room to communicate.
Adi: And I think that communication is key because I think we’ve seen this year. Like, we’ve gotta get out, we’ve got to reconnect, we’ve got to get out of our heads. Like, I just don’t think we were meant to self-isolate, and to cancel, and to all of this stuff so frequently. This doesn’t seem normal, normal in context. But I’m just saying, so for me, community is huge. And I know, I mean, you know, I’m sure you have a good conversation with someone and you have a coffee or you see someone that blows your mind, or you hear a speech, like it’s different than just having in your earphones on the subway, which there’s huge value in that.
But the human connectivity and the energy there and what can come from that. And some of my biggest, my best of work has been from experiences like that. Or my aha moments have come in where I’m just like, “Shit, I don’t know anything. I need to go work on myself, I need to be quiet. I need to figure this out.” And it’s like those, to me, are the times that are most valuable and the people that can do that in a way that is kind, and compassionate, and respectful, but also push you and believe and know you want more or you could do more and let you have that. I think like those are my people, you know?
Dr. Fox: Yeah. Listen, I agree. Anyone who made it through an hour of us talking on their earphones, put them down. We’re finishing, go find a human…
Adi: We’re finishing.
Dr. Fox: .. interact, have a coffee with someone. Don’t just listen to us in ears…
Adi: This is like very nonlinear. I was expecting like…I feel like we were very just like riffing it.
Dr. Fox: I am completely nonlinear. I’m crooked. Totally crooked. So that’s me. It’s…
Adi: Well, I think your podcast is fantastic. And I did some reserach…
Dr. Fox: Oh, you’re sweet. Thank you.
Adi: And I think keep doing what you’re doing because you’re giving energy to a space. I think our New York Community, I think our Jewish community, I think even medical community, I think in so many ways you’re hitting the mark and doing something special. So thank you for having me on. And it’s been a pleasure and I really enjoyed this.
Dr. Fox: Thank you for listening to the “Healthful Woman” podcast. To learn more about our podcast, please visit our website at www.healthfulwoman.com. That’s healthfulwoman.com. If you have any questions about this podcast or any other topic you would like us to address, please feel free to email us at email@example.com. Have a great day. The information discussed in “Health Woman” is intended for educational uses only. It does not replace medical care from your physician. “Healthful Woman” is meant to expand your knowledge of women’s health and does not replace ongoing care from your regular physician or gynecologist. We encourage you to speak with your doctor about specific diagnoses and treatment options for an effective treatment plan.