Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Today's Lesson: Bride + Makeup = Bad

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.

The Wolf


Mike S. said...

The Gemara says that it is a good thing that women can wear makeup for their husbands. Who are these people to decide otherwise? This isn't a chumrah, it's pritzut geder; substituting their judgement for that of Chazal (actually, in this case Ezra Hasofer). Where do they get off?

Mighty Garnel Ironheart said...

The gemara also talks about how brides beautify themselves on their wedding day.

On the other hand, I've seen clowns at the circus with less makeup on their faces than some brides.

Besides, this won't last long. After disposing of makeup, the next chumrah will be to keep the veil over the bride's face during the entire wedding so other single guys don't stare at her.

Shira Salamone said...

Oy. Have you seen the post I published yesterday re tzniut?

Shira Salamone said...

Oops, sorry--wrong link. Try this one.

G6 said...

You know what scares me more?
Numerous comments on some other blogs DEFENDING this program.....

Anonymous said...

Why don't they just show the young women how to use make up properly -with a light and subtle touch.

Anonymous said...

It's the steady, relentless march of the frummer, more restrictive than thou competition.

G*3 said...

This is scary. If they can take something that has always been perfectly acceptable and make it “bad” on their say-so, where does it end? The bit you quoted is interesting for its underlying assumptions that 1) being strict = being righteous and 2) that it is unfortunate that makeup is acceptable in chareidi society.

I hope that this is just a single school, and not the start of a movement.

Mikeinmidwood said...

When i first heard about this I laughed then I was shocked and then I said, "I wonder how long this will last". I think that even though we are living in a new era of bans I think this one will backfire.

In most cases women arent the subject of the ban/ strictness, men usually are. Now that women are being targeted for something they like to do, and one their big day, they wont comply, and many rabbonim will agree its too strict.

Anonymous said...

". . . I've seen clowns at the circus with less makeup on their faces than some brides."

Ain't that the truth. Except it's not just on their wedding day. With some of them it's whenever they go out.

I'm going to say the same thing here I said on another blog: I disagree with the haredim on almost everything, but they are absoulutely right on this one. Unless a girl has a skin condition that heeds to be convered up, she doesn't need makeup. It makes her look cheap and artificial, which suggests she has a character flaw, and the makeup leaves chemicals that can damage her skin. It's also deceptive. We all have imperfections, so I'd rather see the real imperfections than to try to deal with the deception.
So one cheer for the Haredim.

Ichabod Chrain

anon said...

I could hardly see my wife at our wedding under all of the makeup.
She was wearing more than she wanted to.
The makeup lady applied the makeup, and then my wife tried to take some off, but the lady caught her and reapplied.
My wife is gorgeous without makeup.
A little tiny bit of hardly noticeable makeup isn't necessary, but doesn't bother me that much. The amount that women wear at their weddings and sometimes otherwise looks repulsive to me.

ProfK said...

Gentlemen, there's an excellent rule of thumb that is incorporated in a common Yiddish saying: "Menner turren nisht mischen arein in veiberische zachen." Men aren't allowed to mix in to women's business.

Our Jewish writings support the idea of women being adorned for their weddings. Read Megilas Esther. It took a year from the time a woman entered the House of Women until she was brought before the King because she spent that year "annointing herself in the custom of women." That a woman or two is not pleasing to you when she does so is besides the point--it's her business, not yours. An individual husband/wife pair can work out what is acceptable to both of them. No one else should be opening up their mouths.

This newest shtick looks and sounds like just one more way that the off the wall chareidi oppressors are going after women, and it sure has nothing to do with tsnius or righteousness. And it's going to cause a lot more aveiros then it prevents. Do you really suppose that all those girls who are going to take a gift of 1000 shekels to pay for school are going to forego makeup on their wedding days?! So is the school going to sue those students? Put them in cherem?

It seems that it is not money that is in short supply in some parts of Klal--it's common sense.

Heshy Fried said...

I just had to comment on the fact that you used the Ynet link instead of vos iz neias - yasher koach!

Anonymous said...

They're also changing the words of the famous tune to "Kallah naeh, Kallach Yaeh, and mediocre"!

Yossi Ginzberg

inkstainedhands said...

This goes already beyond being ridiculous. What, there aren't enough problems in the world that people feel the need to make a problem out of nothing? At least I can understand the reasoning behind some chumrahs. This one, however, is simply ridiculous.

As for the incentive.... I once had a teacher who used a similar method to get girls to cut their hair short, above the shoulders. The sad thing is that she actually saw some results.

It's one thing if a person wants to do something (like cutting hair or not putting on makeup) out of conviction. But to be pressured and bribed to do it is horrible.

Unknown said...

It is funny, because I remember learning that the it is a Mitzvah to stare at a bride, so that she be endeared to her husband, does anyone have a clear source? It is definitely an Halacha in SA.

inkstainedhands said...

Ketubot 17a?

Anonymous said...

anon wrote:
I could hardly see my wife at our wedding under all of the makeup.

Oh boy. That happened to us too.

My wife was plastered with makeup (personally I think she looks best with none or just a light touch). And her hair was a mass of lacquer, not at all her style.

She can barely stand to look at our wedding photos because of how she looks in them.

And I was nervous enough that day, it didn't help seeing her done up like that.

Yirmiahu said...

I'm inclined to think that this is an inappropriate request for the reasons mentioned.

It seems to me, however, that part of the issue (a big part) is that all too often punctuality in following the advice (and often rulings) of our Sages regarding tznius and other issues is often abandoned to those who are disproportionately not content with following their advice but playing one up.

Objection's to baseless or counterproductive chumros would carry more clout when coming from those who are sincerely and firmly committed to the goals of tznius or what have you.

Reading these comments, it occurred to me that while makeukp at weddings should be to make the kallah appear pretty to the chason, and feel pretty herself, it seems as if it is being used to make her more photogenic. The Kallah shouldn't look like an anchorman or an actress in a play whose features need to be seen 100 yards away. This should be as objectionable to us as nixing it entirely, for the same reasons.

bonnie said...

So, the girl agrees to promise not to wear makeup at her wedding. Then, she gets engaged, and the chosson says, Please wear makeup and look beautiful for me. She says no, I promised I wouldn't wear makeupo. He is devastated. What a SUPER way to start the marriage!!! Or better, the groom finds out, and asks if he can break the engagement because he didn't know the girl had made this wacko promise. If the incentive is free tuition, it is the PARENTS who will force the girl to promise not to wear makeup, putting the girl in an unfortunate position. WACKOS, every one of them, they are obsessed with bringing down women and oppressing them (no driving, as if there was a time in Jewish history where women did not drive the horse and buggy?) and proving their superiority (women to the back of the bus!) because THEY don't support their wives and can't feel superior when she earns more, is more educated, and is capable in many other spheres like cooking, etc. OY VAY!!!
PS All you men going on and on about your wives being dolled up too much by your wedding, nobody asked her not to have the brains to choose someone she knew or was recommended as a makeup lady, or go for a try-out before the wedding. If she was happy in the makeup, then you certainly should not have had an opinion, it was not about you...

Bartley Kulp said...

I do not know any mwoman who are actually makeup users, who would give that up for 1000 Nis.

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