My love/hate relationship with a thing called Sheitel

By Devorah Litvin

Lets be honest here ladies, Sheitels are the most annoying things created, and yet they are the most brilliant at the same time! Anyone who knows me will tell you that I love my wiggy very much, but when the wedding/ bris / bar mitzvah is over, that thing comes whipping off my head at the fastest speed, and is laid to rest in her own personal home sweet home otherwise known as a box in the corner of my closet.

Don’t get me wrong – tichels are fun, falls can be funky and hats are surprisingly practical when it comes to the winter, but lets face it girls, they all do so much damage to our hair! Our poor hair !!! They say “the crown of a woman is her hair” and yet they decide to make rules to make sure our pride and joy gets oppressed! For you MEN out there who are not aware of the trials and tribulations us chicks go through, I will try to shed some light. Your hair gets thin, it gets yanked, the color fades, it gets ZERO nutrients from lack of sunlight and has no shine, no luster and no body. Frizz becomes second nature and hat hair becomes permanent. It’s kind of like a catch 22 to make sure your hair is covered ALL the time. The rabbis say that Sheitels are better because women are less likely to take it off in public, but honey – have you ever SEEN a woman’s head of hair when she takes off a tichel??? Flat as a board and ugly as sin. Trust me, NOONE is taking off anything and most certainly NOT in public.

And so, my love / hate relationship with my Sheitel is very apparent. Her highlights are beautiful, she always makes me look good (better than I ever have) but at the end of the day she’s not me. If I had a dollar for every person who didn’t recognize me while I wore my wig, I can tell you I’d have enough moola to buy another wig ! Oh did I mention they’re about 3 grand for a good one??? But that’s for another blog J

My point is my friends, I decided to be positive and come up with my top reasons why I’d actually shockingly consider covering my hair full time. There are many many reasons why Sheitels and tichels totally kick tuchiss, and here are my top 7. One reason for every day of the week J

  1. My first realization came to me in the bathroom. I was brushing my teeth and lo and behold, I got toothpaste in my hair. (I kid you not) And it hit me… if I wore my tichel (like a good frum girly) this would NOT be an issue !!!! So trust me when I tell you – Cover your hair with a tichel / doo rag, and you’ll never get toothpaste in your hair again!
  2. Time to be economically savvy: Cuts down on hair care products – and who needs designer shampoo when generic brands will do? So granted, the wig costs you 3 grand plus a $40 monthly maintenance wash and set fee but its sooo worth it in the long run right ?????
  3. Time Management: Getting ready for a wedding? No problem – throw on the wig and go! (statistically shown that prep time is cut down about 30 minutes of blow drying time)
  4. Time Management x2: Friday afternoon showers aren’t necessary anymore – who will realize anyway if your hair is wet or not? (a little deodorant, perfume and a wiggy and you’re off!)
  5. Glamour is an understatement: Frizzy hair? Not a problem! Become a “Hot Chanie” instantly!
  6. Obama got it right when he said Change has come to the USA — who knew it started with the sheitels? How about becoming a Blonde Marilyn for the day? Or go jet black….. or maybe Grace Adler red? Whatever suits your mood for that day … just remember YES WE CAN!
  7. And finally, my most important reason why I’d ever consider covering my hair full time: The greatest Advertising gimmick ever: “Shevy – G-d’s choice of wigs.”

Duby Litvin –

Dubylitvin.wordpress.com

5 Pillars of Health

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • BH

    Great post! I am thisclose to getting a wig to cover my hair. As a matter of fact, I just borrowed an old one from a friend to ‘practice’ with at home. Sounds weird, I know, but I need to get used to it before I shell out 3 grand.

    Oh, btw, I just learned about a WiGrip:
    http://www.mcwigs.com/accessories4.aspx
    (second row)
    and it keeps your wig on without clips! Plus, it really keeps on scarves as well! Or, you just use extra strength hair spray when you first put on a shmata and I swear it will stay on a whole day!

    • red

      BH – I only use the WiGrip and I LOVE it! Being a Lubavitcher I wear my sheitel all day, everyday, and the Wigrip has saved me from ugly bald spots. I also wear it under my tichel when I’m home and let me tell you – it has never slid.
      Before you shell out 3 grand for a wig look at some cheaper brands first. I have a Milano, it was only $550 (the pony) and I’m in my second year with it. It is ridiculously light and comfortable. It probably has another year left but by then i’ll want a change in style anyhow! So do some good research. I also borrowed a wig before i bought mine. Good luck!

      • BH

        Thanks for the advice! I have an old wig from a friend and I am ‘practicing’ with it at home. My best friend is a Lubav and she will help me with the whole thing when I am ready. But I really appreciate your advice.

  • Malya

    I cover my hair full time (although not in my own house) and I have a real problem with sheitels. I feel it defeats the purpose and doesn’t do any less damage to your hair. Sometimes I resent the obligation all together and I contemplate discontinuing for those very destructive (to my hair) practices. I struggle with it constantly eventhough I’ve always covered my hair since I got married 4 years ago. I miss my hair, and sad to say that my favorite time is when I have guests over Friday night and my air dryed hair is out for show. True it is getting thin and it no longer has red highlights from the summer, but I only have to cut it once a year and mt tichels cost about $2.50 each. So onward I struggle. Thanks for the post it’s a topic that I feel has a growing divide and could do with a little rehashing.

    • G*3

      > I feel it defeats the purpose

      Which is what, exactly?

      Victorian England had a thing for ankles. The Ancient and Medieval Middle East had a thing for hair.

    • Michal

      It doesnt defeat the purpose. The purpose is to cover your hair and it is covered. period. end of story.

      • http://dubylitvin.wordpress.com duby

        no, i can totally relate to what she means that a sheitel defeats the purpose…. lots of girls put on these sexy momma wigs and suddenly they become these whorish looking people …. (yeah ok that was kind of harsh)

        • Anonymous

          but the real purpose of hair covering is to cover the hair, which is deemed “ervah” after a woman is married. a sheitel covers it all. besides, once people know it is a sheitel and not hair it doesn’t have that same appeal as natural hair.

          • red

            just because sheitels do their job of covering a woman’s hair does not mean there is not a tznius element to them. it’s not tznius to wear a “so long i sit on it” blond curls with the seductive side bangs. however, if your purpose is to cover your hair then you’ve accomplished it

          • Mahla

            I ~really~ wonder if I could get away with walking down the street in Tehran in a sheitel. Especially given the state of
            hijab in the capitol city these days, which is why I specify it. ;^)

            I’m sure I would be violating the spirit of the law, but possibly not the letter of the law. :^) After all, my natural hair would be ~completely~ covered.

            Ha ha, a ~delicious~ thought! Except I’d never actually try it. I don’t want to get taken away by the ‘bad hijab van,’ LOL. :^)

  • Chrissie

    As someone who is having major hair issues at the moment (frizz, bad dye job!) I’d love to wear a sheitel! Who doesn’t want utterly perfect hair every time they’re in public? This article makes me wanna splurge on a Marilyn wig :)

    • shosh

      Because it’s not always perfect, especially if you’re not spending a pretty penny for the initial investment and the upkeep. It really sucks if you’ve got a bad sheitel covering perfect hair. It’s uncomfortable, itchy, hot. I’ve found it to be a constant bane on my existence and way more work than my own hair ever was, even on bad hair days. I finally gave up and just wear hats.

  • http://duddes02.blogspot.com duddes02

    this one was a snooze

  • Julie

    If I ever wanted to wear a sheitel, my first stop would be to a crazy wig store. I would love to walk around wearing one of those old Lady Gaga blond wigs.

    I used to dye my hair and shave my head a lot when I was a teenager. I was into punk/hardcore scene stuff. I had to have my dad assist me in putting up my mohawk. I washed my hair more often when I shaved my head bald every week, because otherwise there’d be weird dry skin flaking off. Now I just see it as being a pain in the a$$.

    My hair is really long, thick, straight, and horrible. I’ve just thrown it in ponytails for ages because I don’t know what to do with it. I don’t like waking up early enough to straighten my hair and still be on time. My arms get tired just from navigating a brush through my thick hair and wrestling with it to put it in a ponytail.

    • the other shim

      Hi Julie
      Ever consider becoming Satmar, with all the head shaving?:) Just kidding. I did go to art school and I’ve seen a few mohawks and punk hair in my time. I always wanted to dye my hair purple or whatever but never had the guts to. I also lived in Boro Park when I went to college so it wasn’t an option anyway…

  • Just my two cents

    It would be better that all these women wore their most comfortable hair covering out, and reserved the sexy sheitel for private sessions with their men.

    It sucks to see your wife looking all hot outside of the house, and then feeling like you’re making love to a war refugee at home.

    • Anonymous

      I wear the long sexy wigs when i go out, but nothing like saving my own sexy hair for my hub – why does taking off the wig have to make one look like a war refugee?

  • Anonymous

    I have never been married, but I just can’t imagine walking around anytime I go outdoors with a scarf tied over my head, no hair showing, for the rest of my life. I wouldn’t say I’m terribly vain, I don’t spend hours on my appearance every day and I don’t wear a lot of makeup. But I care about my appearance to an extent, and not having the appearance of hair makes me uncomfortable. With my choice of hair coverings, I would definitely pick Sheitels. My only issues are that Sheitels are expensive, apparently uncomfortable, and what happens in the hot humid summers? Don’t they get ruined?

    I know some people say Sheitels are hypocritical because they often look nicer than real hair. I heard that a (I believe it was Lubavitch) Rabbi once said that he thinks Sheitels are great-they cover all the hair, stay on well, and look nice so women can feel good about themselves while keeping the Mitzvah. I don’t see anything wrong with that. If you don’t care about how you look at all, great for you. But even this Rabbi knows that women need to feel good about themselves to feel happy, and as a woman I can say that feeling ugly makes it hard to feel good about yourself.

    • red

      It was the Lubavitcher Rebbe. He felt it was important to “fit in” (to an extent), have self confidence, and be taken seriously. Also, since a lot of chabadniks go out on shlichus he didn’t want the women being crazy ladies with shmattas on their heads.

      • Anonymous

        I thought it was him, but wasn’t positive. I think he brings a great point.

      • Duby

        i dont think the main reason the rebbe was pro-sheitels was becasuse of “fitting in” – i think it was more that a sheitel ensures that all hairs are covered and women are less likely to take them off, while a hat can easily be removed, and a tichel can easily slip back.

        As a side thing – a sheitel makes a woman feel mroe put together and not a “washer woman”

        • shosh

          Yes, but the Rebbe never had to wear a sheitel. Also, if you look at pictures of his wife and mother, they’re wearing hats. Although the Rebbetzin apparently wore a full sheitel towards the end of her life, the picture everyone has of her shows her wearing a hat.

  • the other shim

    I myself cover my hair only outside the house and and still all the color has gone out of it. It used to be a gorgeous dark auburn and now it’s dishwater brown. Still the texture and thickness are unchanged. It’s not frizzy at all.

    I have never been able to afford a real shaitel just cheap falls that every so often I get a snide comment on. “It just hangs there, why don’t you do something with it!” is one example. I can’t do something with it. It’s a cheapass Michal wig that can’t be styled.

    So I wear scarves and bandannas for the most part unless I have to go to a wedding or sheva brochos.

  • FrumGer

    Related to the Litvinim of Louisville KY?

    • http://dubylitvin.wordpress.com Duby

      yeah – im a daughter in law
      (uhhh who wants to know ? ;)

    • the other shim

      Holy crap FrumGer I think I know you!!! Are you from Louisville? Did we stay at your house for Pesach?

  • Duby

    uh oh, do i have reason to be concerned ???

  • FrumGer

    NO reason to be concerned… I’ve been around Louisville but no other shim you didnt stay at my house on sukkos…. Reb Litvin has been at Anshei Sfard a long time, and the name Litvin isnt exactly Khan or stein… so I recognozed the name immediately.

    • Duby

      should i send your regards ?

    • the other shim

      Ooops. I have another friend who is a ger who lives in Louisville and I always wondered if she was posting here. Sorry if you’ve posted other comments indicating you were a guy I couldn’t remember if you did.

  • FrumGer

    just tell him that a person in this world apprieciates the work he does there in that little steibel…. keep on truckin’

  • J

    A head scarf can be a dressy Chanel-style printed silk twill one, handrolled edges, about $25 from Bolton’s, in Manhattan. You can twist it up loosely in the back, and tack it to the crown of your head with a florist’s boutonniere pin. Looks like a pearl hat-pin. (You order a package of them from a florist supplies website, links below.) I dipped the pearl of one pin into black nailpolish, so it becomes invisible, being black. Also, you can order simpler silk scarves very, very cheaply from Thai Silks website, below. Same story with the pin-up at the back. 19 momme charmeuse is a nice weight, a shiny satin. China silk is lighter weight. The colors are rich. White is nice. 36 inch square is a good size; smaller square won’t work. The long style, 15″ x 72″ can be tied around the head too. You knot it at the back of the neck, and put up the tails twisted loosely, like long hair. With the pin.

    http://www.lacrafts.com/5706.html

    http://www.afloral.com/Floral-Supplies/Wedding-Design-Supplies/The-Regency-Pin-21-2-5-per-Card

    http://www.thaisilks.com/product_info.php?cPath=58_74&products_id=433

  • prili

    I work in a museum thats very popular with frum families and my co workers never believe me when I tell them that a lot of the women who come in are wearing wigs. When I explain why they are wearing wigs the response I usually get is confusion. They don’t understand why these women are wearing wigs if the point is to cover your hair. I also have a problem with this. Anyone have a good explanation they’d like to offer up for me to use?

    • Anonymous

      You shouldnt have trouble understanding it. Hair has to be covered a wig covers it, it is that simple.

    • shosh

      Covering hair isn’t supposed to make someone ugly, the point is to cover up their actual hair.

  • http://www.pleasureworld.net Eva

    Thanks for the post it’s a topic that I feel has a growing divide and could do with a little rehashing.

  • Israelit

    Unfortunately, for Sefardim, wigs are totally assur because they’re not tznius! There are these posters in Jerusalem with all these quotes from big Sefardi ravs saying that any woman who wears a wig will go to gehenom or should be treated like a shiksa or whatever. I wear hats and scarves myself, and it really does drive me nuts to always have to cover my hair and then as soon as I get home and take the covering off, my hair looks like crap. My husband used to love my curly multi-toned hair, but now it’s just a frizzy, dry, brittle mess with only one dull color instead of all the cool highlights I used to get in the Israeli summer sun. I did discover however that I can feel a lot better about the scarf thing by varying the tie and style I use instead of doing the same style every day. There’s a great book in Israel (in Hebrew) that has pictures and step by step instructions on how to do all kinds of different scarf ties that I definitely never learned from anybody else. Doing different stuff with it makes me feel a little better about how I look when I go out at least- still haven’t figured out how to revive my real hair inside though.

    • shosh

      Can you go out on the mirpeset uncovered for a certain amount of time a day? Maybe use some “sun in” or lemon juice on a few sections to lighten it in some spots?

      Are you from Jerusalem? because when I lived there before I was married, I found the water turned my hair to straw. A frizzy dry brittle mess.

  • J

    Your hair has simply aged. People change. It’s NOT the scarf! Fluff it up to aerate it with a soft plastic tool the minute you pull your scarf off, condition after shampooing – using rinse-out or leave-in stuff, and, rinse highlights into it to refresh the color. No big deal. You would have had to do all that by now, even if you weren’t religious. If you go to a hairdresser, ask her for product recommendations. Kerafix by Nexxus is heavy, but good. Avoid henna, it builds up and turns orange. You just want a few highlights, a glaze. Or have her put in the auburn glaze, or a few blonde streaks on top. She will get it right.

    • Anonymous

      You are definitely right about minimizing the negative effects of covering with the proper care and products. But the fact of the matter is, the lack of exposure to sunlight and oxygen and the “suffocation” of the hair due to always being covered definitely has an impact. The covered hair gets darker, flatter, and may become dull and lifeless. In some extreme cases I have even heard of hair thinning drastically and falling out. This all scares me. On the other hand, my mother doesn’t cover her hair and it is just as thick as it was years ago, while other women around her ages’ covered hair has darkened (well until it gets gray) and flattened.

  • orthonador

    Oh i am from louisville as well

  • Orth Mother of 2

    I have covered my head since I got married. Over the years the reason I do it has changed from the standard one, to treating it as a kipah for the reason men wear a kipah – yirat hashem. This has had the pleasant side effect of making me look more positively on the requirement. It is annoying to have to do something because of someone else’s weakness – cover MY head because a man will be aroused.

    I also recently saw a documentary featuring an African tribe where the women fabulously braid and decorate their hair. Now I think I understand better the original requirement. But today’s Western hairstyles are nothing so eye-catching as this…

    • the other shim

      Actually I was told in sem that women cover their hair to kind of make up for the fact that they are no longer virgins. Women have an intimate knowledge of sensuality once they are married and covering the hair counteracts that somehow. Basically married women are s*xier is the ultimate message and I don’t have such a problem with that. Covering your hair is a bitch though.

  • FrumCurious

    I don’t plan on covering my hair unless my future husband/fiance and I are going to some type of event where I might get funny looks if it isn’t covered. Shabbat or a wedding/holiday. I suppose it all depends on the environment I’m in. I LOVE my hair and I take very good care of it on a daily basis – so no wigs for me.

  • Anonymous

    FrumCurious, maybe they could make you a wig out of your OWN beautiful long hair?

    A scarf is easier and cheaper, however.

    The Other Shim, your remark is very interesting. Yes, a covered head is a constant unconscious reminder one is uniformed and on duty. A policeman acts differently with his cap on.

    As for dark, flat and lifeless, well, that is what peroxide is for. Nobody has highlights after a twenty-five anyway. Bleach away. (A little.)

    • shosh

      I had natural highlights at my wedding at 27. Bleach will ruin your hair.

  • Anonymous

    This web site has inexpensive, synthetic “capless” wigs. You are buying directly from China. They look nice, at least in the photo. I haven’t used this site myself yet. They have every length and color of hair. They claim they offer a natural look, not a party wig.

    http://www.lightinthebox.com/Capless-Medium-Length-High-Quality-Synthetic-Natural-Look-Blonde-With-White-Straight-Hair-Wig–0479-04-01-MS226-_p99070.html

    About fifty bucks, with liner cap, shipping, wigstand.

  • Far

    Decent, inexpensive wigs can sometimes be found at Overstock dot com. “Kenakelon” is a very realistic fake hair. When you first get the wig, give it some hard shakes, to wake it up, and fluff it. Once it’s on, with the label to the back, you hit your hair around a little, and it messes up, acts like hair, looks natural. Too neat can look wiggy. You pick it around with a wide tooth comb, never a brush. It mustn’t come near any heat source. Don’t cook in it.

    It is beyond belief how good one can look in a wig. They round your head shape out, and yes, frame your face. Amazing. Those Lubavitch are on to something.

  • Far

    A great wig, blonde, smooth, young looking, for about fifty dollars:

    http://www.lightinthebox.com/Short-Straight-Blonde-Hair-Wig-Bob-Head-12-08-0479–MS207C-_p80964.html

  • F
  • http://www.bestmydreams.com/ Donna

    I like long hair, this is why I DON’T cut it. ;)

  • F

    Donna, there are very long, nice-looking, synthetic wigs, if you ever wanted that. Put “wig long” in the website’s search field. Black, brown, blonde, whatever you want. Some have highlights or shading. Straighter hair is easier to comb than curly, and more flattering. Obviously, a really long wig will have to weigh a little more than a medium-length, but these are still light-weight, capless, washable wigs.

  • AztecQueen2000

    Bring back the mob cap! It has strings/elastic so it can be tightened, and it’s made of cotton so your scalp can breathe. The only problem is that you walk around looking like an 18-century painting–but considering the way some Hasidic sects dress their men, maybe it wouldn’t look so out of place.

  • J

    For hair health and beauty: brush dry hair while you are standing up, and bending well over from the waist, hanging your head down. Use slow, massaging strokes, starting at the nape of the neck, going forward to the forehead. This uses gravity to increase blood flow to the hair follicles. More blood to the roots will result in better hair. Bending well forward and hanging your head down also relaxes the muscles of the scalp. This muscle relaxing also increases blood flow. Shampoo your hair while bending over in the shower, with your head hanging down, for the same reason. Rinse with cold water, it makes a huge difference in the shine. Cold water closes the hair’s cuticle, which then appears shiny. Never brush wet hair, just comb it gently. Wet hair is weaker than dry, and therefore breaks more easily. Never brush hair vigorously while your head is in an upright position, because the scallp muscle is tight then and you will hurt the follicles. Just arrange it gently.

  • http://nosheitelsupportgroup.blogspot.com No sheitel

    There is a no sheitel support group online for all those who do not wear sheitels. It is private for Orthodox Jewish women who want a place to learn halachot, share feelings, and feel understood by those like them. If you or someone you know does not wear sheitels, please have them email nosheitel@gmail.com to join or to request more information. Please spread the word to all the people you know who do not wear sheitels.

  • sulamiph

    Don’t take me wrong, but I want to tell you what my father used to tell me: “If you you can’t change a situation, change the way you deal with it”. If hear covering is mandatory, but you still want your hear remain healthy and beautiful, use a tichel, made of natural silk. It lets your hear breath, it is cool in summer, it is not making allergy, it is light and it is a pleasure to wear it. Is it expensive? It is more expensive then a polyester tichel, especially mass-produced. Yet, health-, mood-, style-wise it is so much better then killing your hear and destroying your health with all kind of artificial materials of your head-covers.

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