From the Mailbag: Hair Covering

From the Mailbag: Hair Covering
Received this morning from a reader:
Hi HaDassah -
 
I have been pondering this issue for a long while, and wanted to hear your thoughts and those of your readers.
 
 
I have been covering my hair for many years. Of the last few, I have been so turned off by what I’ve seen that I’m seriously considering stopping. I have already made the decision to not cover my hair professionally and am so thrilled with that decision for me. It was not an easy one, and I read articles and books to help and I didn’t take it lightly. It was hours of open discussions and sleepless nights (“Will I be struck by lightening!?”)
 
 
While it has been great, I must admit a situation that had me second guessing my choices. I was riding the subway and was sitting across from a young frum guy. We both got up to exit the train. He put his hand on his head, took off his kippah and placed it in his pocket. At the same moment I reached for my head covering, removed it, and placed it in mine. This situation resonated with me for a while, and in all honesty it upset me.
 
 
A few days ago, on my Facebook News Feed an image popped up and I literally nearly fell off my chair. I’m attaching the image. I was enraged at what I saw. Are we really comparing ourselves and our sheitels to these dead beat “celebrities”? I use that term loosely as this one in particular became famous over a sex tape!
 

 
I posted the image on my wall and received a slew of responses. 3 of those responses were from women who in recent years stopped covering their hair. Upon further discussion with one of them (offline) she told me that these sorts of things (longer sheitels and shorter skirts) were the exact reason she stopped. I completely understand. I even heard a response that women are getting hair extensions as their “hair covering”!
 
 
I’m 99.99% sure I’ll be stopping completely too. Please don’t get me wrong, I don’t believe women should look ugly (never!) but, is their hair underneath as beautiful for their husbands as it is on the outside? I suspect not.
 
 
Thank you for taking the time to respond! I have always enjoyed reading your posts from your mailbag and thought this issue may be interesting and thought provoking for others.
 
 
Best wishes,
 
A Reader

HSM: image removed on request of owner.

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14 Comments

  1. Incredible letter!!! I don’t cover my hair but in my opinion, the reason women cover their hair is to hide their ervah (areas that must be covered) and also so men won’t be attracted to their hair. So if the sheitel you wear is sexy and makes men want to look, what is the point?!?

  2. Druid says:

    Reader,

    You sound like a sad confused soul. You are writing how shorter skirts and longer sheitels bother you. What is then your response, to stop covering your hair? If the above mentioned things bother you, on the contrary, you would take covering your hair all the more seriously! As with teenagers who write letters saying they do something wrong because they saw a teacher doing it, this letter breaks of someone who always wanted to do something and then is using a situation as an excuse.

  3. kweansmom says:

    You want to stop covering your hair? Stop covering your hair. You want to wear scarves instead of shaitls? Go for it. Think long shaitls are too sexy? Keep it to shoulder length.

    But you want to blame Kim Kardashian for making you stop covering your hair, and feel morally superior to people who wear long shaitls? Sorry, I’m not buying it.

    Live and let live. This just another twist on “holier than thou”. Stop looking other women up and down and deciding if they are religious enough.

  4. Becka says:

    First, I’ve never covered my hair except on “occasions” when I feel like I have to, I don’t like to. My hair looks almost exactly like that picture, not a wig, not extensions, it’s my hair.
    I’m not gonna lie, I’ve never understood the point of covering hair with…hair. It makes no sense to me. A tichel, ok. But to put on a long sheitel to cover long hair? I’m lost on this one. To me it just cancels out the concept of modesty in the first place.

  5. I don’t understand the reasoning in the letter at all. Because some women wear sheitels that flaunt, YOU stop covering your hair? That’s like saying that because some families speak lashon hara at the Shabbos table, you’re going to stop keeping Shabbos. How does that help?

  6. Lady Lock N Load says:

    The wig is stunning! I know many women that actually began to cover their hair and wear wigs because they had so many beautiful options. We are so fortunate these days, not so long ago the wigs were so awful that very few covered their hair.

  7. S says:

    Should sheitel machers have a responsibility to sell their wares in a tznius/Torahdik way? Do we really want our daughters to cover their hair (or any other mitzvah) to emulate these “celebrities”, as the Facebook image shows above?

    Do they realize (or need to be affected by the fact) that women are being turned off from participating in and pursuing this wonderful mitzvah by these actions?

  8. kweansmom says:

    I agree that frum women should not wear shaitls while making a sex tape.

  9. Hadassah, I have to say I expected a very different letter when I saw the topic of today’s post. I’ve received A LOT of letters about hair covering but none like this. One one side of the spectrum, I’ve gotten letters from women who feel like they are grieving the loss of showing their beautiful or distinctive hair and on the other side are people struggling because of nerve conditions or very strong migraines to try to cover but are feeling worst and worst and wondering why G-d would want them to do something that causes them so much daily pain?

    So, I tried to think about what this lady is trying to say and not make a joke about it. I think it seems to her that her hair covering is the biggest indicator that she is part of a community and because she doesn’t like where the community is going, she wants to stop identifying with them in a physical way that other people can see. I’ve definitely gotten letters that don’t have anything to do with hair but have to do with people asking themselves “Why be Jewish?” when they hear about the latest Orthodox Jew in a scandal.

    Still, I think she has a lot of thinking to do. She can uncover her hair but she’ll still be a Jew. Still connected to people doing things she doesn’t approve of and glorifying things that don’t make sense to her.

  10. Schvach says:

    To be utterly candid about this topic, I’m not crazy about sheitels, but I do like (and I’m being overtly honest here) hijabs, especially when they are well selected and well coordinated with the rest of the woman’s attire.

  11. karen says:

    You cover your hair because Hashem commanded it. Once you start making those decisions because of emotions etc, you’re on the slippery slope.
    You can choose, within the framework of hair covering, how you want to do it- sheitel, hat, bandanna, scarf. But to say you are going to do an aveirah because you don’t like the way others keep the mitzvah is 100 percent wrong. an aveirah.

  12. Sophia says:

    I think the big problem that the author of the letter is seeing is that their is pressure to wear sheitels either for Hashkafah (like for Chabad) or to fit in. This has led to some women taking this to the extreme. Of course on the other side there are the groups whose Hashkafah is too ensure that sheitels are very modest or who forbid them all together.

    Personally I am in the sheitels are a fudge camp. It is totally possible to cover your hair completely with very funky and elegant tichels and turbans. You can even accessorize them with a nice brooch if you want. I always cover when I leave the house but not always at home when it is just family (keep a turban next to the front door).

    I do not work full time an when I do work from home so I suppose I do not experience the pressure to fit it. However if professional moderate Muslim women have the courage to wear Hijab (which is actually the modest clothing and the hair covering – the concept is similar to tznius and includes kisui rosh) to professional jobs why do Jewish women not take up the challenge.

    If someone is not comfortable with this gashmius of fancy sheitels and not confident in their Judaism then I can easily see them wobbling.

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