To be around not only one of the most beautiful women in the world and a world-famous model, but also a woman who actively wants to elevate all seniors' lives, who hates injustice and superiority, and who is extremely empathetic and sensitive, will give you an inspiring, delightful dose of energy. Right after the Natali Ruden fashion show, Taťána Gregor Brzobohatá, with a smile and an unmissable sparkle in her eyes, talked to LP-Life.com about what it's like to be out of the catwalk, enjoying a social event from the other side as a spectator. She revealed much of the current world of the Beauty of Help Foundation, which she founded in 2008, gave us her perspective on the position of women and men in society and even gave away the advice Pierre Richard gave her.
It was my first time at her show and I was invited by my – I hope he won't be mad – very old friend, Láďa Špaček. I was really pleased with the invitation, because it's just lovely to watch the show from the other side and not just from the catwalk; to me, it was more enjoyable as well. It was a beautiful show. Of course, I know how much work it takes beforehand – to rehearse, practice and sew everything. Since I also designed my own collection this year, I'm really aware it's an awful lot of work and time spent. So congratulations to Natali on a beautiful show and I believe everyone really enjoyed it.
You created the Beauty of Help foundation, which is dedicated to improving the quality of life of the elderly. What do you think the care for people in this age group in the Czech Republic lacks?
We have been working with the Foundation for thirteen years to ensure that this care is sufficient and available to everyone. We fund modern social services, such as nursing care or personal assistance, and we also have our own volunteer program. Our volunteers see seniors in their spare time and give the most precious thing a person can give, their own time, to people who are troubled by loneliness the most. We also have many other projects around the country. The aim is always concerned with this "target group" and the cohesion of the family, which is not functioning or is ceasing to function today. I feel that the cult of the family is waning. There is not even enough financial support in this area. I wish, and we hope and work to change these things. We are trying to provide the younger generation insight in what is troubling the elderly, because let's face it; it affects us all. Whether we admit it more or less, we are all getting older and one day we will reach the retirement age. Hopefully. And maybe then we will realize what kind of support we need, what we can't manage on our own and what we are missing. Concern for others, family togetherness and support of other people, these are the things I would really like to see more of in the future.
Pension reform hasn't gone well so far, it's been discussed for years. Hopefully, the new government will take some more long-term, constructive steps and really come up with a long-term plan reaching beyond the one term.
What are the most common legislative barriers to your advocacy for seniors or even in seeking financial support, and what is the most common help that seniors need, what are their biggest concerns?
Most people don't want to end up in institutional care prematurely. Indeed, it is nine out of ten seniors who want to live at home, with dignity and professional care. And that's what we're working towards and funding. What we have to deal with in practice is that the way the rules are set up may work on paper, but in real life, it doesn't. For example, the banal thing that only a nurse can give the client an injection with a pen. Not a caregiver, because she is not a nurse, but a social worker. This puts a strain on the capacity of the whole system and causes us great complications. Unfortunately, social workers and health workers in general are not even well paid, although this is slowly improving. We are also trying to push for the dignity of the care service to be restored, for it to be done by good quality people, who are rewarded for their extremely hard work. It makes sense, because if we really want our ageing parents to be cared for by people who are qualified, who love what they do and see it as a mission, then these people must also be well compensated. We are trying to bring prestige back to these professions.
You know the joke that men die earlier because they want to? No, seriously! Is it a fact that women live longer; does this affect the work of the fund?
I don't think it affects the work of the Foundation in any way, but yes, women generally live many years longer. On the one hand, it's a blessing, but on the other hand, we're left on our own. Most of our clients are widows who have outlived their partners by some eight or ten years. That's really the biggest problem, one-person households, where the elderly are worried about finances. They don't have a pension high enough to pay for all their medicines, living expenses, and so on. In those cases, we try to arrange housing and social service allowances for them. It is mainly loneliness that plagues the elderly across the board. They may be sixty-five or ninety, but if a person lives alone and has no family around them, or if the family is not functioning and there are no friends in the picture, perhaps not even neighbors, then that person has no motivation to live and often wraps it up unnecessarily early. In brief – motivation and surroundings, the cohesion of friends and family, that's the most important thing. I believe it has an impact on the mental state of a person, which in turn affects our health fundamentally.
Do you feel there is a difference between the positions of women and men in today's society? Do you encounter such situations in your daily life?
Well, you hear about gender equality, gender differences and so on all the time now... I think it is a great challenge for the future, because the role of women and the role of men in the pure sense of the word is irreplaceable. Certainly, nobody wants women to be equal to men in going down the mines and having the same jobs as men. Although why not? If a woman feels close to it and enjoys it, then really, why not! But, for example, the wages are very different here. There are big differences between a woman's salary and a man's salary for the same job. I don't understand why, since we live in the 21st century. Moreover, the biggest differences are for university-educated women, perhaps as much as 22%, and that seems unfair to me. I think that there are things that are worth fighting for, that are worth striving for, and I believe that this will be reflected in the economic side of things as well. Canada, for example, is investing wonderfully in gender equality, and it reflects in the economy and the finances of the country, they understand that very well. So there is still a lot to learn, and I hope that the Czech Republic will not be left behind. So far, in terms of pay equality, we are probably second or third from last in the European Union, so that's a shame.
You have been in the modelling world for many years, in a sector with a lot of women. Have you ever encountered sexual harassment in your career?
Luckily, I haven't experienced it in person. I've nipped any innuendos or sexist remarks in the bud right then and there. But I know from my colleagues that they may have experienced something that was over the line. It's a very sensitive issue, because of course, we all have a different sensitivity threshold and different ability to stand up for ourselves. Some people, even if they look confident, can't or won't do it. But I think it's not just a question of our profession or show business as such, it's everywhere. It's in the acting business and the singing business, in fact, you can find it in absolutely every segment there is, and it's actually more about the abuse of power from a position of superiority. And it's not necessarily gender-related either, it can be woman against man, woman against woman. I'm sensitive to that, and I can stand up for people. If I notice someone abusing their position, putting someone down publicly or privately, etc., I try to point it out, even though I may not be liked for it. But it doesn't matter, it's just that if you're covering up for evil, or if you notice something that's out of line and you don't intervene, you don't support that person, you're giving the other person permission to do that, even by being silent. I think that's wrong. So, each to their own conscience and best knowledge.
What do you like about the modelling world? And conversely, if there was something you wanted and could change, what would it be?
What I like about modelling, commercial work, art and fashion in general is the creativity. Because it's an extremely varied, diverse job, you have to be an adept, capable manager, have a creative spirit, talent, good instincts, be sociable, have a bit of business acumen, be able to assert yourself, be communicative, learn a language and so on. There’s really a lot. It's an interesting job, and I'm glad I've been in this type of business for so long. It never grows old for me, and I don't actually get tired of it, which is good. I love my job, and I guess it's also about attitude. Everyone has a different approach to it, of course. It's not a leisure environment, I don't spend my holidays with people in my profession, but professionally I love being there and I still enjoy it. And that's fine, to find where your heart is and to use all the talents that you have within you. Modelling, together with commercial work, are activities that span across many sectors, and that's what I enjoy most about them.
Sports, nature, friends. I love good food, so different gastronomic experiences, travelling... Travel is very much linked to my profession. It's nice to meet new people, new teams all the time and have the opportunity to participate in different creative ideas in campaigns, to create your own collections. It's interesting and I get to let all aspects of my personality run wild, it's really cool. Sometimes I even spend my private time in a cottage somewhere, wearing sweatpants. It's varied.