3. Sheitel for a Day!
First of all… don’t worry or panic or give a double take (though it might be too late for that). I am not planning on making the switch!
But… I must share with you that… I spent one WHOLE day in a sheitel. Over thirteen hours!
If you’re wondering, “sheitel” is the Yiddish word for a wig that many religious women use to cover their hair after getting married. These women feel comfortable, natural and beautiful in a sheitel. They often connect to the sheitel because they feel like it allows them to best embrace the mitzvah of hair covering. I personally don’t feel like the sheitel works well for me, and feel much more beautiful and “like my true self” when I cover my hair in tichels (scarves). To each their own! This personal preference is something I never would have predicted before I got married. Obviously, “covering hair” is a huge topic of interest in Judaism because it is so public as well as personal. Different streams of Judaism have different ideas on how one should embrace this mitzvah.
Often I’m asked for opinions and advice on the subject. My philosophy is quite simple; Experiment and don’t be afraid to try new things. Aim to love this mitzvah and use it to embrace your beauty, elegance, and femininity… wear your crown and become the queen that you truly are! Whether one connects to wearing tichels, sheitels, hats, etc. is something that a woman has to find out for herself. I must add, that for all of us ladies that have found what works for us, my advice is… don’t preach to others (please)! It’s wonderful to love what you do and the way you cover your hair, but we have to understand that what works for us isn’t necessarily going to resonate with someone else. Aim to inspire others, but only if they want to be inspired. And don’t be afraid to try something new while always growing in your love for this mitzvah!
With the exclusion of yesterday, since getting married I have worn a sheitel for two (very short) times. This is funny because before we moved to Chicago, I was told that I MUST buy a sheitel because this is what is worn in America. I bought mine in Jerusalem because they are reasonably priced there, but I really couldn’t see myself wearing it regularly (even though I liked the way it looked). The funny thing is, it turned out that I actually feel completely comfortable wearing my scarves in the United States. I get so many compliments wherever I go (from Jews and non-Jews alike), and many of the kids I work with have mothers that cover their hair in various ways, so they don’t find it odd at all. The first time I wore a sheitel was for a grand total of one hour, while getting my passport photo taken in Canada. (In retrospect I regret this decision, because I don’t look like my regular scarf-wearing self in the photo!) The second time was for Purim this year. I wore a black wig that I got for ten dollars at a hair accessory shop. I dressed up as a woman from China and my husband wore a shirt with a heksher (kosher certification) on it as well as take-out containers tied on. Together, we were Kosher Chinese Food :P
My husband and I were looking for someone to sublet our apartment while we are back in Jerusalem this summer. I was blown away by the amount of inquiry we got, and in order to give everyone a fair shot at the place, we scheduled viewings/interviews for one whole day in order to make our decision as quickly as possible. I had appointments set up from early morning until late at night, every half an hour(ish). When I woke up, my thoughts went to what I should wear on my head. My philosophy is that I want to embrace my true beauty aka Jewish womanliness through my actions and what I wear, but always take into consideration the people I am going to encounter, and make an effort to be accessible to them. I would never want someone to be uncomfortable because of what I am wearing, so I try to think about this while staying true my own beliefs and keeping halacha (Jewish law). Sometimes this can be a lot to consider! Since I was going to be meeting many people who didn’t know why I cover my hair, whom the majority would never be seeing again, I didn’t want to launch into my life story. I decided that wearing my sheitel would be a good decision for the day.
So, I dug around for the box at the bottom of my closet. I slipped on my light brown/blonde fall and wore it from morning til late evening! A “fall” is a kind of wig that doesn’t have a part at the front, or bangs. It is worn with a headband or hat. Many women feel like this kind of sheitel looks more natural because you don’t see where the wig meets the skin/hair.
Yeah I’m super happy in the above picture… I was talking to my husband on skype!
So how did it feel?
In a word, it felt “okay”. I definitely felt like I was covering my hair fully, so my halachic obligation was fulfilled. It looked good and felt natural. However, I just didn’t feel beautiful in the way I do when I wrap my scarves. I didn’t feel like I was embracing the mitzvah fully and making it mine. All day I found myself itching to make a new scarf tying video, to take the sheitel off and do an elabourate tie. And the funny thing was that I kept getting new ideas which I (thankfully) wrote down. This is funny because usually it takes a while for me to get new tichel ideas/inspiration! Regardless, it certainly was an interesting experience. And I’m glad that I decided to try it out the sheitel for longer than an hour and not as a costume! By the end of the day, I was able to feel quite comfortable in it, except when I walked past a mirror or my mind was drawn to it for some reason.
In conclusion, I realized that it’s important for a woman to have options. We should embrace all the mitzvot and make them personal and relevant to ourselves, but we also need to consider the comfort of those around us. I am grateful that I was told to buy a sheitel so I can have it handy for social situations such as the one that happened yesterday.
Ladies, my fellow Jews, and all human beings. Don’t just do mitzvot… embrace them!