WOMEN ONLY PLEASE!!!
The basic answer to this question is – Jewish married (and some divorced) women are supposed to cover their hair to be modest, according to Jewish law, and – drumroll – a wig covers hair.
The end, law abided. (abode?)
That is the basic answer on the simplest level. We’re supposed to cover our hair, and a wig covers it.
Here’s where it, like all things Jewish, starts getting complicated.
There are many ways to cover hair, and Jewish sources and rabbis and plainfolk all have opinions about how it’s done best. Hats, Scarves, Turbans, Wigs.
Some people assume that the reason we cover our hair is to make ourselves less desirable.
Some people define modest as “less desirable looking”. Not true. Modesty means an inner sense of refinement and dignity that comes out in covering what’s precious so we can be seen for our true selves instead of for our bodies. We are allowed to do that in beautiful looking way.
I got some arguments about How Hot Chani’s Right, mostly people misunderstanding that I am encouraging Jewish women to dress “hot”. I really didn’t mean to do that. I just meant to say, learn from her to take care of yourself and care about your appearance and don’t be afraid to be beautiful. Now, though, I’m thinking of another favor Hot Chani is doing for us as I think about other religious cultures where the modest women are looking so not good – Chani’s showing the world that we’re not oppressed women who have to give up their desire to be beautiful and dress shlumpy in order to please G-d and men (I’m hearing my devil’s advocate say, “Isn’t Chani oppressed in another way?” and yes, maybe so, okay, but I’m really off point here so gonna reign it back in.)
This is just me taking it to the extreme, but I would much rather the world look at us and say, “Wow, G-d’s chosen people has some good-looking women” than “Wow, G-d’s chosen people look awful.” (Both are extremes and I’m realizing I need to clarify some of my extreme examples by saying that yes, I know, the BEST perspective would be for the world to say, “Wow, G-d’s chosen people has some beautiful, holy, giving people.”)
The faulty assumption and definition of modesty being “looking less good” leads people to ask how we’re possibly allowed to cover our hair with a long beautiful wig.
The reason we cover our hair is – to save our true sexual essence for our husband. Our true sexual essence is in the hair that is growing out of our head. There’s something really really holy about hair. Hair is dying but connected to life. The hair follicles are where our binah (womanly wisdom) seeps out, so we need to keep it covered if we want to be wise. I have heard all sorts of teaching on this, and I probably just butchered them.
But what about those long, sexy wigs?!!!
Guess what? Women are sexy! All of us, in all our head-coverings are sexy. All of the most modest of us, fully covered, in nothing tight or see-thru or short, are SEXY! Some of the FRUMPIEST of us, are STILL SEXY (to someone, sometime, even outside of our homes). It just happens. I think it is a natural part of femininity. I think it is natural, even godly, to like being sexy. I think it is natural to compete with other women. I think it is natural to want our husband to look at us. I think it’s natural to want people to think we’re beautiful and to pursue beauty.
Judaism helps us tame our natures into dignified lifestyles, if we follow the halachos properly, but there’s also a whole lot of room for humanity.
There’s a LOT of argument about those long, sexy wigs. There are sources who say NEVER wear a wig no matter how unsexy it is; there are sources who say ONLY wear a wig because scarves slip back and show hair; there are sources who say wear a wig that clearly looks like a cheap wig; there are sources who say just cover your hair; and there are probably 85 more sources with 85 more opinions on how to cover your hair.
So women, being women, in our nature are taking this mitzvah and pushing it to the most beautiful. Some women are wearing long sexy wigs because they think they’re pretty and everyone else is, so why shouldn’t I? Some women are wearing long sexy wigs because the mitzvah of covering their hair is really, really difficult for them and it’s the only way they can do it without losing their mind or hating Judaism. Some women (probably very few) are wearing long sexy wigs because they want to steal your husband (or from her perspective find the love of her life, which so happens to be your husband). There are probably 85 more women with 85 more reasons for wearing long sexy wigs or any other type of covering.
I honestly think that inappropriate sexiness in the Jewish community has nothing to do with these long, sexy wigs. I have seen so many women wear these long, sexy wigs in a modest, dignified, appropriate, attractive way with clothing that also follows not just the letter of the law but the spirit of it. I don’t think I myself look so sexy in my wig. I just think I look pretty and I like it. Sexiness, like true modesty, is in how we carry ourselves, and I think a woman can wear a long sexy wig and still be modest and not give off an inappropriate “sex” vibe. That’s my personal opinion.
I think that inappropriate sexiness in the Jewish community comes from a large number of people losing the heart of our cultural truths. We’ve somehow lost the heart of things and become focused on the externals. That’s a much bigger problem than long, sexy wigs.
I cannot judge anyone’s motives or methods for covering her hair.
The words “it’s personal” come to mind.
In Judaism, you’re going to find so many opinions about everything. That can be frustrating, because some of us want “the truth”.
Bottom line, Jewish women can wear long, sexy wigs because they are following the law of covering their hair by doing so.
Are long, sexy wigs modest?
That’s for 85 rabbis and 85 women to debate. In 170 different head-coverings.