This is the second of my weekly series about Russian women. The common Western notion about Russian women is either that of the babushkas, the stocky grandmothers in gray headscarves who dutifully sweep the frozen streets of Moscow–or the fantasy of long-legged Russian beauties, seductive KGB agents in a James Bond movie. Both impressions are valid.
Women are hard enough to understand in any case. To borrow Winston Churchill’s famous line about Russians, that they are “a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma,” and then further wrap a large minority of them in a bundle of fur–you have Russian women. In my book there are six kinds of Russian women: the beautiful, the babushka, the Barbie, the beaten, the bold. and now, the bewildered. Today we will touch on the beautiful.
There is a reality in the stereotypical James Bond seductress. I will flatly say that Russia has more than its share of charming and attractive women. By “attractive” I don’t mean merely the exotic physical characteristics that are so publicized. The real beauty of Russian women is under the surface where they often contain an elusive self-confidence, a seductive charm, a depth and strength uncommon in others. There is an enigmatic self-awareness in their eyes¾a pride, perhaps a secret¾certainly nothing inconsequential.
As you walk the streets or look at the faces at a bus stop or in the Metro, you often see this same feminine mystery. But they are not aloof. There is a curiosity and willingness to return a quick smile or hold a gaze for that fraction of a second that asks a question–or suggests a danger. They love life, which is hard to explain considering how hard life can be in Russia.
More on the beautiful next week.