Anya Cordell is the recipient of the 2010 Spirit of Anne Frank Outstanding Citizen Award. See: http://www.annefrank.com/fileadmin/safa/cordell10.html
Cordell was a beauty-obsessed teen who grew into a passionate and powerful spokesperson against intolerance and what she calls "appearance-ism" (appearance-based judging of ourselves and others). The injustice of "appearance-ism" is a universal experience, she says, and therefore an issue that can inspire everyone to combat all types of bias. (Please see www.Appearance-ism.com.)
In addition to writing, Cordell creates programs for children through seniors, sharing strategies for bridging divides of religion and ethnicity, and crossing into one another's lives. She addresses teasing, bullying, stereotyping, racism, homophobia, age-ism and more, in presentations to schools, faith communities, corporations. She brings home how the media teaches not just fashions, but fashionable attitudes, and reminds us that just because many people say or scream something does not make it true.
In her writing and speaking Cordell exposes the all-too-common impulse to exclude, and the arbitrary basis of who gets designated as 'Other'. Her personal story exemplifies bridging these divides, inspiring everyone to claim their natural worth AS IS and join her in becoming anti-bias activists.
In the wake of the attacks of 9/11, Cordell, who is Jewish, reached out to strangers whose innocent loved ones were murdered in the backlash directed against Muslims, Sikhs, Hindus and others. Particular concerns include today's xenophobic climate, how that impacts innocent people, and how to stand together against slurs, stereotypes, and injustice.
Comments from readers and program participants include:
"She inspired me to change my first impression of people."
"Her work is awesome and commendable. She should be cloned."
"Now I'm o.k. in my own skin."
"I don't stress about my body image anymore."