Some More Hair Covering Thoughts

When I was first married more than 15 years ago, I did everything to avoid wearing a sheitel. I lived in berets and snoods and scarves. I worked in a Jewish school, so it was acceptable. The wigs were kept for Shabbat and special occasions. There was a point that when the kids were small and saw me put on my wig they started to cry because they knew I was going out without them. With little kids, wigs were not practical, and didn’t suit my wash and wear lifestyle. In those years I was all about comfort and practicality. Fashion and even shoes took a back seat.

When I got divorced I uncovered my hair. It was part of the grieving process. I eventually re-covered it and entered into the dating world. I had wanted to marry someone who understood the importance of this mitzvah for me. Dressing up for dates – somehow a snood or tichel just didn’t match the outfits. I felt better wearing a wig. More grown up, perhaps, in a very weird way. The KoD supports my decision to cover my hair – and if I chose not to, he would support that too, so long as it was a rational thought out decision.

In the last couple of years I have worn a sheitel more than not. When I go to shul or other functions I blend in (in some ways) with everyone else there. I don’t have a need anymore to make any kind of statement with my hair covering or lack thereof. In the summer I have a lot more fun with tichels, and they are cooler to wear. When I was working last year I wore a sheitel every day. It would not have been appropriate to wear a tichel in a work environment.

I also think that if I lived in Israel I probably would not wear a wig at all. It seems to be socially acceptable over there to be religious, cover your hair with whatever covering you want to, and not look out of place anywhere. Here, you could not effectively be a lawyer and argue a case in court, with a snood or a tichel on your head. Now, they are supposed to be tolerant of all races and religions, and you do see lawyers with hijabs etc. But any married Jewish woman lawyer who is a hair coverer will wear a sheitel so as to blend in. We have the option. In Israel, you can have any job and it doesn’t matter what you wear on your head. You are not singled out because of it. (If I am wrong please correct me).

I guess I cover with a wig because it helps me fit in better in our North American society. It is more accepted in my communities that women will wear wigs most of the time, as opposed to hats and scarves etc. It is a fact of life that women spend insane amounts of money of their wigs – just so they can look like they are wearing real hair. It makes absolutely no sense, yet I have bought into it like everyone else around me. Plus a well fitted wig doesn’t give me headaches like the others have done, or like a tichel sometimes does.

I do feel a bit like a hypocrite, but I justify it to myself. But then again, aren’t we all hypocrites to some extent with at least one thing in our life?

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4 Comments

  1. AshleyRoz says:

    I have been experimenting with it off and on since I decided to convert. I want to do it, but then my scalp and hair get so horrible I don’t want to take it off when I get home to my husband. It’s definitely a struggle. I feel much more dignified when I cover my hair but the freshly rained on cocker spaniel look is not conducive to my marriage. sigh. I definitely do it when we go to shul, or out shopping on the weekend but I’m very on and off about it during the week since I work and come home in the late afternoon.

  2. Ilana says:

    I think you are right that in Israel it would be totally acceptable to wear a hat or a scarf to cover hair in a work situation. I suspect that many women who would wear a sheitel outside of Israel cover their hair in other ways, living in Israel. It is socially acceptable.

    You choose your battles. If you are more comfortable wearing a wig in your community, why not? Many poskim say it’s halachically acceptable; some even prefer it. You are doing what works for you.

  3. Shoshana says:

    The first year I was married and covering my hair it felt like I had grown another arm that I suddenly had to dress and have match the rest of what I was wearing.

    I never wear a sheitel. From a very young age I just could not see the logic of covering my hair with someone else’s hair or plastic hair, either. The ugly sheitels look ugly and the beautiful sheitels look so real, what’s the point?

    I am a professional woman living in the USA and I wear almost exclusively berets and hats.
    I also need to stay out of the sun so the hat wearing is reinforced by that.

    My hair is very long and sometimes I am shocked at how different I look with it down and with it covered. My bangs are out but the rest is covered.

    Like it or not, our hair is a big part of how we look.

  4. The Law says:

    There are many communities in israel that have paskined that it is assur to wear a wig/sheitel/pe’ah nochrit. this is the prevalent custom of many sefardic jews as rav Ovadya Yosef has published many piskei halacha stating that wearing a wig/sheitel/pe’ah nochrit flies in the face of the purpose of the entire thing.

    it really depends on the community. when i lived there, the community i was in paskined thatwig/sheitel/pe’ah nochrit was not permitted…

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