Ynet is reporting that the Darchei Rachel seminary in Jerusalem is providing a scholarship of 1000 NIS (about $265) to brides from their seminary who forgo makeup on their wedding day.
The payment comes about as a result of an uptrend of girls who are wearing makeup. The administrators of the school would like to fight this trend and so they are putting this offer out there. It is too soon to judge whether or not the new rule is effective.
There are a few things that I find interesting about this new development:
Firstly, the new rule wasn't promulgated as an outright ban but rather as an incentive. My guess would be that the administrators knew that an outright ban would probably fail, so instead complience with the new rule is being incentivized. I'm sure that in addition to the payment, there will probably be pressure put on the girls from the teachers and the administration to adhere to the new rules. I'm curious, however, if it will morph into an actual ban once enough girls take the bait and it becomes the "norm" not to wear makeup to one's own wedding.
Secondly, I'm actually deeply disturbed by the whole idea that makeup on one's own wedding day is a bad thing. Although it's not explictly stated in the article, I would assume that the school administrators are viewing this as a breach of tznius (does anyone else have any other reasonable explanation?) . I thought the idea of being a bride is that they are *supposed* to look beautiful for their husbands. Hence, we even relax some of the restrictions of Yom Kippur and Tisha B'Av for a bride in the period immediately following their wedding.
I suppose the point could be made that wearing makeup is a breach of tznius because she will be seen by other people (aside from her new husband) at the wedding. But that's just downright silly -- if that's the case, then there should be a prohibition on her wearing a white wedding gown -- that probably draws far more attention to her at the wedding than any decent makeup job will do. Or is that the next ban?
Thirdly, I'm concerned because this represents a further shift to the right in the Chareidi world, an instance of taking something that was perfectly acceptable until now and stating now that it is not acceptable. As one hareidi educator said in the article:
"This education institution is for the sector's most righteous girls, who are strict about everything. However, I remain skeptical in regards to the initiative's success, in light of the fact that makeup is acceptable in the haredi society and because it's a particularly exciting day."
In other words, they want to take something that, until now, was perfectly acceptable and make it now unacceptable (and, perhaps, in fifty to a hundred years, say that it was *never* acceptable).
Lastly, I'm concerned because they are taking the approach of using a bazooka to kill roaches. If there is a problem with girls wearing makeup, then why put pressure on brides? Why not incetivize the girls with a pledge not to wear makeup during their attendance at the school? The problem (to my view) is not so much that brides are wearing makeup, but that girls are. Well, if that's the case, then aim at the girls -- don't aim at brides where even if there was an outright ban on makeup you could still make a reasonable exception due to the nature of the event.