My Unorthodox Life star Julia Haart has revealed her ex-husband Yosef Hendler said that their daughter, 5, couldn’t play sport in case her outfits were sexualised.
Designer and entrepreneur Haart, now 50, starred in the popular Netflix series last year, which focused on her rise in the fashion industry after she left her strict religious household at age 42.
Now, Haart – who is currently embroiled in a nasty divorce from her second husband and Elite World Group CEO, Silvio Scaglia – has shared more intimate details on her journey through her newly released memoir, Brazen, which hit stands on Tuesday.
Candid: My Unorthodox Life star Julia Haart has revealed that her ex-husband Yosef Hendler said their five-year-old daughter couldn’t play sport in case her outfits were sexualised
Promoting the book on Thursday’s This Morning she detailed parts of her daughter Miriam’s upbringing and said she started to question why she couldn’t play sport.
She explained that when her daughter started to ask questions about such things she eventually decided to leave the family and her strict religious life.
She said: ‘I should have left 20 years before. It was when my daughter Miriam turned five and started to give voice to the questions I had had all my life.
‘She started asking questions and said to me ‘I’d like to play sport’ and my ex would say it’s not modest to wear a skirt and if a man sees you he might have some kind of sexual reaction to that. so you can’t play sports!’
Tough: Promoting the book on Thursday’s This Morning she detailed parts of her daughter Miriam’s upbringing and said she started to question why she couldn’t play sport (pictured with Miriam in 2021)
‘And my five year old ‘oh why am I responsible for his sins’. She started asking all the questions I had been scared to ask my whole life.’
Talking further about the book and her now feminist beliefs she said: ‘It’s basically the story of my trajectory. It’s really all the messes, the confusion, the details. The book is the full story.
‘My whole life I thought to myself, my intellect is not lesser to a man. I had all these questions. I had all this guilt for even thinking that.
Fame: Designer and entrepreneur Haart, now 50, starred in the popular Netflix series last year, which focused on her rise in the fashion industry after she left her strict religious household at age 42
‘The thing is, most people have all of these impediments as to what they can and cannot do. Religion trains you, if you don’t follow these steps you’re going against God. That’s frightening.
‘It’s been very difficult. I always felt like I had to be obedient and listen. I remind myself no changemaker has ever been popular.’
She continued: ‘No one has thrown me into jail for demanding freedom. I believe in God now more than when I lived there. My life has been a string of miracles since I walked out of that door.
‘I get tens of thousands of DMs and some letters talking to me about what the show has done for their life and how they’ve changed circumstances.’
Her story: Julia opened up about escaping her sheltered Jewish upbringing in her newly released memoir, Brazen, which hit stands on Tuesday
Haart went on to launch her own namesake shoe collection and became the creative director at Italian luxury house La Perla after she decided to leave her Haredi community – where ‘women were to be rarely seen and never heard’ in 2013 – after 42 years.
She was born in Moscow, Russia, and emigrated to the U.S. with her parents at the age of three.
When she was 11, they settled in Monsey, a suburb 35 miles north of New York City with the largest population of Hasidic Jews in the U.S. outside of New York City, with nearly half of households speaking Yiddish or Hebrew.
‘We lived in the 1800s,’ she previously told the Los Angeles Times of her Yeshivish background, explaining that modesty for women was paramount and access to outside information via television, radio, or even newspapers was was hard to come by.
Nuptials: Haart got married at the age of 19 to Yosef, and she wrote in her book that she had only met him a handful of times before their wedding
She also described a sexist worldview wherein men studied the Torah but women did not ‘because her mind wasn’t capable of grasping it.’
She explained: ‘I was told, ‘Women’s minds are light’ — ‘nashim da’atan kalos.’ Where I lived, women were to be rarely seen and never heard.
‘Our lives were governed by a web of modesty laws that required us to not only cover our bodies head-to-toe, but to behave comparatively, as well. You grow up thinking you don’t matter at all.’
But Haart’s interests always pushed beyond the limits of what was deemed acceptable.
She read a lot – from classic literature to fashion magazines she had to sneak from a nearby 7-Eleven.
In her book, Haart wrote that she ‘spent the first 42 years of my life in utter misery,’ but admitted to The Times in a new interview that she purposely ‘downplayed’ the ‘extent of her misery’ in it.
‘I didn’t want to be a victim, right? I didn’t want people to feel sorry for me,’ she told them, while discussing the memoir.
At age 16, she taught herself to sew, and would make her own modest versions of the clothes she saw in those magazines.
Haart got married at the age of 19 to a man named Yosef Hendler, and she wrote in her book that she had only met him a handful of times before their wedding.
Difficult: She is currently embroiled in a nasty divorce battle with her second husband -Elite World Group CEO Silvio Scaglia (pictured together in 2017)
Together, they had four children – Batsheva, Miriam, Shlomo, and Aron – and they were raised with the same religious upbringing.
As time went on, Haart grew more and more depressed, and she even began to think of ways she could kill herself.
‘The day came when I couldn’t take it anymore. I couldn’t stay for one more second,’ she previously told the New York Post.
‘You’re trapped in a life that’s not yours. So it was stay and die, or walk out the door.’
She ultimately decided that starving herself was the best way to go because people would assume it was unintentional, an eating disorder — so her children wouldn’t carry the shame of their mother’s suicide. At just over five feet tall, she got down to 73 pounds.
Show: She starred in the popular Netflix series last year, which focused on her rise in the fashion industry after she left her strict religious household at age 42
But seeing her daughter Miriam face the same struggles to conform as she did made her realize it was time to leave instead.
It took her years to get out – secretly selling insurance to save up enough money to finally break free in 2012.
By 2013, she was already launching her own shoe line after finding investors ‘in the craziest places,’ including on a plane and in an eye doctor’s office.
‘It genuinely didn’t occur to me that I would fail, because I was so f**king ignorant,’ she said in her show.
She didn’t fail, though, and ultimately landed a collaboration with La Perla. By 2016, she was the brand’s creative director.
’43 years of my life have been stolen from me. I don’t have time,’ she added.
In 2017, Haart designed Met Gala dresses for Kendall Jenner and Mary J. Blige, whom she accompanied to the A-list event.
As creative director, her designs were also worn by stars like Naomi Campbell, Anna Kendrick, Lily Collins, Lea Michele, Laure Dern, Padma Lakshmi, and Kourtney Kardashian.
Now, Haart wants to use her story to make a difference in other women’s lives who may be going through something similar.
Wow: She has become a big name in the fashion world and in 2017, she designed Met Gala dresses for Jenner and Mary J. Blige (pictured with Anna Wintour)