Letting their hair down

Ultra-Orthodox women who prefer long locks for their wigs face backlash

The more natural-looking variety of sheitels has grown increasingly popular in the NY area, but many who choose it face accusations of promiscuity

Ultra-Orthodox women's sheitels, file (Lara Savage/ Flash 90)

Sexy sheitels are all the rage in the New York area — or at least, rage is quite definitely in the air — with some ultra-Orthodox women’s growing preference for more stylish hairdos earning condemnation and even accusations of sluttiness from their communities.

The wig, or sheitel, worn by many married ultra-Orthodox women is generally seen as serving a purpose of modesty, fulfilling the tradition of covering one’s hair while outside the house to avoid being attractive to men who are not the wearer’s husband.

According to the New York Post, long-haired, more natural looking wigs are increasingly in vogue in NYC and the New Jersey area, but women who go for the less synthetic look are also opening themselves up to criticism from rabbis and others in their social circle.

“They like the longer hair,” Galit Lavi, owner of a wig shop in Brooklyn said of her clientele. However, “Some customers tell me we have to cut it short enough ‘so I don’t get in trouble.'”

Gitty Berger, a makeup artist from Jackson, NJ, told the paper she likes longer hair but only wears such wigs when away from her community. “If you’re seen in a local pizza shop wearing a long wig, you’ll be talked about… you and your husband will be getting phone calls,” she said.

Last year local wig makers in Lakewood received anonymous emails which accused women who prefer long-haired wigs of “trying to look like a prostitute.”

Meanwhile Flatbush resident Esther Adina Sash, 30, doesn’t let the hate get to her. Sash owns an Instagram account to which she often posts photos of herself in various wigs.

Though some people have written disgusting comments — one encouraged her to “Go drown yourself in a lake” — Sash does not appear to be planning to change her ways. She told the Post the notion that “hair length has a connection to spirituality” was laughable.

Another woman, Mindy Meyer from Flatbush, seemed to sum up the feelings of many young women: “I’m an Orthodox woman and I want to adhere to my traditions, but why do I have to look like I’m from ‘Fiddler on the Roof’?”

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