Yelizaveta Stepanivna Serhiyenko leans back slightly in her chair near the yellow window of the motel. Her thin legs are pulled up on the seat while one arm wraps around them and the other holds the half-burnt cigarette she’s sucking on.
I watch her eyes dart from one side to another as she peers outside the window, fear evident on her face. She takes another drag of the cigarette and casts a weary glance at me.
“What do you think?” she asks me, her words piercing through me like a scissor knife through a piece of paper made out of butter.
I lean back on the bed, the notepad resting on my lap on my half-chub as I ponder the question.
Serhiyenko is just one of thousands of beautiful women fleeing Ukraine completely out of danger – who are blogging it and taking selfies.
I know this hurts them – just seeing their follower counts shoot up while they’re showered with attention hurts them but they feel they owe it to the entire male gender that was legally obligated to stay in Ukraine to fight back Russian invaders.
“It’s what they would do if anyone cared about what they had to say,” Serhiyenko told me when I first started the interview before waving her hand, “Like I don’t mean nobody cares about them, but obviously, like – you know, women typically do better or… I mean, we are just better with social media, I guess. So it’s, like, a burden – you know? Because we have to make sure the story gets heard and it falls on us, I guess.”
I ask, “Are you referring to the Russian invasion?”
“No,” she scoffs, “Like my story. Not that story. I mean that’s just a.. ugh, I don’t know, it’s a big and ugly story. Mine is, I don’t know… cuter!”
“So you think your Instagram page @TragicEscapeStory.HotGirl is actually doing a public service?”
“I don’t know what that means,” she replies, half-bored, before flicking her cigarette out across the room, igniting a small fire on the opposite bed.
Serhiyenko is a Ukranian-American influencer who grew up in Seattle before moving to Ukraine at 21 years old for three years to pursue ‘influencing’ and ‘dating Ukranian men’.
When she found out what Russia was doing, she was ‘devastated’ and experienced ‘bad vibes’.
She stands up in front of me and repeats her earlier question, “What do you think would be a cuter photo – like should I be all sad and look out the window or should I be crying on the ground or something? I can get a towel, it’s really dirty.”
Suddenly, gunfire is heard outside. Serhiyenk, whose real name is Sarah Baker, jumps to the floor.
I watch her panic and it dawns on me just how important these influencers are to keep these stories alive and get people to act on the most pressing, violent and dangerous events facing us.
“First time in Detroit?” I ask as she starts Facebook live.
“Pretend we’re in Ukraine,” she says before rubbing her eyes to make it look like she’s crying.
This article was made into reality by Cosmopolitan on March 8th, two weeks after I wrote this. This is an article by a girl from Ukraine who was at a seaside resort village in Bulgaria when Russia began its incursion. Even by itself, the title… I mean, come on.
“This Is What It Feels Like to Wake Up and Hear Your Country Is at War”