The Man’s Preference

A few times, I’ve seen things on my social media feed about women wearing what men prefer. And I’ve seen different attitudes to it. There are women who feel that their husbands have every right to say something about what they wear and who feel that it’s a team thing. There are other women who feel that if a man wants a woman to wear or not wear something, that’s a red flag of a controlling type. Then there are the women like me who take the middle ground.

Before I go any further, I will say that no man has the right to dictate what his wife wears or doesn’t wear. That actually is controlling and abusive.

That said, I do say that a woman needs to look attractive for her husband. He’s the most important person in her life (not including her children) and he deserves to see her looking good. This does not mean that she has to get dressed up fancy except for situations that call for that. It’s OK for her to wear a jeans skirt and t-shirt for those casual times. The key is to make sure that her jeans skirt fits her properly and makes her bottom half appear long and shapely and that her t-shirt fits her, flatters her top half, and is in a pretty color that makes her face glow.

If finding something pretty and flattering is difficult and time-consuming, then you need to make time to weed out your wardrobe. Go through everything and get rid of anything that doesn’t flatter you. If something needs cleaning or tailoring, get that done. Then, organize your clothes- tops here, dresses there, skirts there. Finding a flattering outfit, even a casual one, should be as easy as opening your closet and/or drawer and grabbing the first items your hands touch.

Some women think “he’s supposed to love me no matter how I look.” If he’s a truly good guy, he will, but in that case, why wouldn’t you want to make him happy too? You might think it’s a small thing, but it’s those small things that make a difference. While most men don’t care much about fashion or style, they do notice how a woman looks.

I also think a man has the right to state his preferences and a woman is right to respect them. Most men are not into girlie things like fashion/style and couldn’t care less about what their wives wear. But some men do have preferences. It could be because they do actually like fashion and style- I know men who do. It could also be because he travels in certain circles and wants a wife who will fit into those circles. I know at least one woman who specifically wanted a husband who would fit into her circle and I don’t see anything wrong with it. I do agree that no one should sacrifice any part of themselves for the sake of fitting into any social circle, but it just means that if the woman doesn’t fit naturally into the man’s circles, they’re just two good people who aren’t bashert.

Regarding the man’s preferences, I do not think the woman needs to sacrifice her own style, but there’s nothing unhealthy about respecting his preferences and incorporating them into her look.

For example, if he has a favorite color, work with that. Find versions of that color that flatter you and have them in your wardrobe along with other colors you love.

My husband’s favorite color is blue. Here I am wearing versions of blue that flatter me. But as my friends and family know, I love other colors too and my favorite color is green. I don’t limit myself except to colors that flatter me.

I’ve read many times in secular fashion magazines and books that men prefer a woman in jeans and a t-shirt because she looks natural and approachable. If your husband does prefer jeans skirts, have a few in shapes that fit and flatter you and wear them for casual times.

Some men even have preferences about hair covering. Maybe it’s about what his mother wears or maybe it’s about the women in his social circle. As with base items, work with that. If he likes hats as a hair covering, then have a few flattering hats in your covering arsenal and wear them at least sometimes. If he likes shaytls, find a great shaytlmacher and get yourself one that flatters you and wear it. If there’s a covering that he likes but that you don’t like, talk with him and figure out a compromise.

My husband loves my mitpachot and so do I.

Ultimately, if he’s a good guy, he’ll remember that what you wear is up to you. But if he is a good guy, there’s nothing wrong with making him happy even on this seemingly small thing.

Face-ing Our Maker

I think Elul is my favorite month of the year. OK, it’s my birthday month so that does give me a bias, but it’s also a good time for soul-searching and reconnecting with ourselves and with Hashem. We’re getting ready for Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur and on those days, we need to be prepared to face our Maker. Pun intended.

Hashem gave us this time of year precisely to remind us that He wants to see our faces and hear our voices. We can’t hide ourselves from Him nor should we. And we need not hide ourselves from each other either. 

As my readers know by now, I am adamantly against the erasing of women from Jewish media. There are publications that won’t do a story on a woman so that they won’t have to use a photo. Or they’ll do a story on a woman but they’ll use photos of her husband, her father, and her sons, but nothing of her. They’ll show ads for professional services featuring photos of the men but not of the women. There are also groups that honor men and women for their fundraisers but they’ll use only photos of the men for the ads and mailings. 

This policy is harmful and dangerous for a number of reasons. 

They claim that it’s about “tznius,” but it’s actually a corruption of tzniut. True tzniut demands that women and men be seen as human beings and treated with basic human dignity but this policy turns women into objects and that’s the opposite of tzniut. 

It demeans men by implying that they’re not capable of controlling themselves and behaving like mentschen.

It deprives us of needed role models. We do not hold up our tzaddikim and tzidkoniot throughout our history for nothing. Plus, according to my friend, psychologist Daniel Hoffman, PhD, when dealing with body image issues, people need healthy role models, including women. When we erase women from view, we lose out on that. 

It erases part of our history. Judaism has always recognized women, from the Tanach through the Mishna/Talmud through the Middle Ages/Renaissance all the way up to and including modern times. We have enemies trying to erase our history and we shouldn’t be doing it to ourselves. 

It makes a Chillul Hashem. There is still a prevalent belief that Judaism is biased against women and policies that erase women only reinforce that belief. Of course we don’t water down Halacha for the outside world, but this policy has no basis in Halacha or Mesorah. 

It’s wrong for mental health. Daniel Hoffman points out that when people have anxiety about something, avoiding that thing only makes the anxiety worse. Here, we have men who are anxious about getting impure thoughts over the mere sight of an Ishah Tznu’ah. Avoiding the sight of women only worsens that anxiety. 

So now we know it’s wrong. What can we do?

Last spring, before Shavuot, my friend Merri came up with the hashtag of #Iwontdisappear as a way of going into Shavuot and receiving the Torah. We women were there too and we deserve to show our faces and not be erased. Now that we are in the Slichot week before the Yamim Noraim, I think it’s a good time to use that hashtag along with my hashtag of #facingmyMaker and the one of my friend Ann, #frumwomenhavefaces. We need to raise awareness of this so that more and more people will speak up. 

As we approach the Yamim Noraim, instead of hiding, let’s try to present our Maker with the best face possible.

Best Beauty Buys- Drugstore Brand Exclusive- Part 2

I’m a girlie girl and I love most things beauty. I love reading beauty books and magazines and learning new and different things I can do to look better. However, there’s one thing I don’t like. Most, if not all, of the books, have lists of recommended products. And the beauty magazines often have spreads listing their best beauty products. The problem is that most of their recommended products are high-end and expensive and many of us civilians cannot afford them. Sometimes they do list inexpensive drugstore brands, but other times they don’t.

If you feel that a higher-end brand of any beauty product does work better for you and you have the money for it, then it’s worth it. But many of us are on tight budgets and cannot afford to spend $25 on a lipstick or $60 for a microdermabrasion kit. So I crowdsourced on social media asking people for their favorite beauty products that are available at places like CVS, Rite-Aid, and Target. And I got a lot of great recommendations. It’s good to know that I’m not alone on this one.

Here is a listing of the products that my sources use. I had two criteria for the list. First, the products have to work well. Second, they have to be available at major chains such as CVS, Rite-Aid, Walgreens, or Target and not cost a fortune.

 

Skin care

Purpose cleanser

Cerave cleanser

Cerave cleanser

Biore facewash

St Ives Apricot scrub- generic from Target

Biore toner

Biore toner

Neutrogena Hydroboost

Neutrogena moisturizer with SPF

Neutrogena moisturizer with SPF 15- I love this one in the generic form seen above

Olay moisturizer with sunscreen

Roc wrinkle cream

Olay Regenerist cream

Neutrogena Pink Grapefruit

 

Makeup

NYX eye primer

L'Oreal shadow

L’Oreal shadow

ELF shadow

Almay liners

Essence liners

Physicians Formula liner

NYX waterproof eyeliner

L’Oreal 24 hour eyeliner

L’Oreal Voluminous mascara

Maybelline The Falsies Push-Up Angel mascara

Rimmel mascara

Rimmel mascara

Maybelline Age Rewind concealer

Maybelline Ink crayon

Neutrogena Lip show

Revlon Colorstay

CoverGirl outlast lipcolor

CoverGirl Outlast- I don’t usually use long-wear lip color, but I used to and this was the best one I found.

Sonia Kashuk

 

Hair care

Horse Hair Shampoo and Conditioner

Cantu conditioner

Simple Conditioner

Garnier whole blends conditioner

Garnier Whole Blends conditioner

BioSilk hair serum

 

Nail care

  Essie nail polishes             

Essie Nail Polish

Sally Hansen quick-dry nail polish

 

Body

Dove body wash

Dove body wash

Dr. Bronners soap

Neutrogena baby sunscreen

Aveeno baby sunscreen

Honest and Co baby wipes

 

Here are the general brands that people liked:

Acure

Milano

L’Oreal

Maybelline

CoverGirl

ELF

Wet n’ Wild

LA Colors

Aveeno

Jordana

Revlon

Garnier

 

Readers, feel free to comment here on the drugstore brand beauty products that you love.

Best Beauty Buys- Drugstore Brand Exclusive- Part 1

I’m a girlie girl and I love most things beauty. I love reading beauty books and magazines and learning new and different things I can do to look better. However, there’s one thing I don’t like. Most, if not all, of the books, have lists of recommended products. And the beauty magazines often have spreads listing their best beauty products. The problem is that most of their recommended products are high-end and expensive and many of us civilians cannot afford them. Sometimes they do list inexpensive drugstore brands, but other times they don’t.

If you feel that a higher-end brand of any beauty product does work better for you and you have the money for it, then it’s worth it. But many of us are on tight budgets and cannot afford to spend $25 on a lipstick or $60 for a microdermabrasion kit. So I crowdsourced on social media asking people for their favorite beauty products that are available at places like CVS, Rite-Aid, and Target. And I got a lot of great recommendations. It’s good to know that I’m not alone on this one.

I’m going to start by listing the products I use. I’m a die-hard drugstore gal and I love these. I’m aware that my beauty needs will change over time because that’s true for everyone and I’m prepared to adapt. I’m just not planning to spend a fortune. I also love saving even more money by using generic versions of name brands, but I’ll list the name brand too. Here goes:

Facial Skin care

Cleanser: Neutrogena oil free anti-acne cream cleanser or deep clean cleanser or Clean and Clear deep clean cream cleanser- generic.

Acne treatment: Neutrogena anti-acne cream- generic

Lip balm: Blistex ointment (in the red and white tube). I can’t understand how this one hasn’t made any best beauty buy lists because NOTHING works better to really moisten the lips (maybe I just haven’t seen it).

Blistex ointment

I use this every night. For daytime, I like Blistex balm with SPF. I’ve never found a generic version of the ointment.

Daytime moisturizer: Neutrogena oil-free daytime moisturizer with SPF 15- generic

Eye cream- L’Oreal anti-aging and firming eye cream- generic

Overnight firming cream

Nighttime moisturizer- L’Oreal firming cream- generic

Exfoliation: I use either a clean washcloth or some plain white granulated sugar mixed with a drop of my cleanser and enough water to make a paste. I do this microdermabrasion once a week plus dermaplaning once a week.

I came late to skin care and it left me with pink blotches and dark acne scars. Once I started using the right products, my skin started looking much better. I just wish that the magazines and beauty books would show women with skin like mine.

Makeup

Primer: ELF. I like either the tone correcting primer or the illuminating primer.

Brows: Tweezers plus brow scissors and brush by Revlon.

Eyeliner: Wet N Wild pencil in dark brown. I like that I can sharpen it as needed.

Green eyeshadow palette

Shadow: CoverGirl TruNaked Palette in The Goldens and Maybelline Expert Wear Eyeshadow palette in Emerald Smokes. I apply with brushes that I bought at a drugstore many years ago.

Mascara- Maybelline Volume Express, The Falsies in Blackest Black or Very Black

Trublend foundation

Foundation: I always loved CoverGirl Ultimate Finish 3-in-1 makeup, but I haven’t found that in most drugstores lately. I recently started using CoverGirl TruBlend foundation and powder and I like the results.

Powder- CoverGirl TruBlend powder or Clean Powder foundation.

Blush- CoverGirl Cheekers in Pretty Peach. I apply it with a fluffy brush.

Bronzer- CoverGirl Cheekers.

Lipstick- Maybelline Color Sensational lip color in Touchable Taupe

Lip gloss- CoverGirl Colorlicious in Give Me Guava

This is a basic face of makeup that I wear for work or for dressy casual situations. I just defined my eyes, evened out my skin, and added subtle color on cheeks and lips. I always do my eyes first because I can easily clean up any fallout. Other women apply face makeup first so that they can work with a more even skin tone and see what they need beyond that. It’s your call.

While I agree that most women can look good without makeup (if they have the right skin care), I also firmly believe that no woman really looks her best without a little makeup. It doesn’t take much nor does it cost much.

Here I am wearing a special-event makeup look. I’m using evening light here. I just took my basic makeup look and added a little extra eyeshadow, powder, blush, and layered lipstick for staying power.

Hair care

Cleanser: As a curly girl, I don’t use shampoo. I like VO5 conditioners for cleansing

Conditioner: Suave Essentials, Garnier Fructis Color Shield, Herbal Essences Color Me Happy.

Gel: Garnier Fructis curl activating spray gel.

Hair color: Clairol Natural Instincts.

Body care

Cleanser- Suave body wash plus a clean washcloth.

Body lotion- Vaseline Intensive Care- generic. My favorite is the one with aloe

Vaseline hand lotion

Hand lotion- Vaseline Intensive Care for hands and nails.

Continuous spray sunscreen

Sunscreen- Any generic brand of continuous spray sunscreen with SPF 30 or higher that’s water-resistant. If it’s labeled for “sport,” that’s good. I find this easier and less cumbersome to apply.

Even if I have to change some of these over time, I don’t plan to spend a fortune. And it’s good to know that I don’t have to.

Next blog post will feature the products recommended from my crowdsourcing on social media. If you have anything you recommend (that you can buy at drugstores or Target), say so. Remember that you can look your best without spending too much time or money.

Try, Try, and Try Again… The Right Way.

Every so often, I’ll see a new wrap style worn by one of my headwrapping friends. If I like it, I’ll ask how she did it. More often than not, there’s a video tutorial so I’ll take a look and try it out. Several months ago, I tried the “lazy woman’s two-scarf veil.” I got the technique right, but while the style looked gorgeous on Olivia- who did the tutorial- and on many other women, it didn’t look right on me. It was just too big and too overwhelming next to my face. But the scarves that I used are old favorites, so I just took down the veil wrap and switched to a tried and true knot turban.

tryout and tried and true

You can see the difference- the veil wrap is so huge on me while the knot turban is dramatic without overwhelming me.

Just recently, I saw another wrap style that I liked called the “fountain of joy.” Leorah, who did the tutorial, is known for very dramatic styles. I admit that I was worried that if I wore this one, it might come off too over-the-top for me, but I decided to try it and I’m glad I did because it worked.

Over the top

Again, this is dramatic without overwhelming me.

While my examples have to do with headwrapping styles, my main point applies to just about every type of clothing. There isn’t a clothing item or accessory that isn’t worth a try. If you see something that appeals to you in some way, try it. If it’s available in a store, go to that store and try it on. If it’s only available online, you’ll need to buy it in order to try it and that means taking a chance. But if you have the money and the item can be returned, it’s likely worth that try.

Too many people talk themselves out of trying new things. They’re afraid that the new item won’t work, as in “well SHE can wear it because she’s beautiful and can wear anything but I can’t.” Or they’re afraid that it will be too strange and make them stick out like a sore thumb. I admit that I almost succumbed to that latter excuse- it’s what made me wary of the “fountain of joy” wrap. But I’m glad I didn’t succumb.

What’s the worst that can happen if you try on something new and different? You may find that it doesn’t flatter you in some way. Or maybe it’s too small and simple and disappears and does nothing for you. Or maybe it’s too dramatic and over-the-top and it’s wearing you. You know what? All you have to do is take it off. You tried it and it didn’t work. That’s all. But what if the item does work well for you? Then you have a new item in your arsenal. Of course, that means just a smidge more work because you’ll have to see how the item works with other items and create new outfits with it.

However, to minimize the work, I recommend one important thing. When you’re trying on something new, always start by trying it with a simple and neutral backdrop. If you’re trying on a new top, try it with a neutral skirt. If you’re trying a new skirt, do it with a neutral top. If you’re trying a new accessory, try it with a neutral base outfit. When I tried each of the wrap styles listed above, I was wearing simple neutral base outfits. Why do I recommend this? Because simple and neutral goes with everything. Since you know that the new item will go with the neutral item, you’ll be able to assess the new item on its own merits. You need to make sure the item works for you on its own and then see how it works with different outfits.

Let’s say you’re trying a scarf as an accessory and you try it next to a simple and neutral base outfit. If the scarf doesn’t flatter you, you’ll see that and you’ll know that it won’t be any more flattering with a more dramatic outfit. If the scarf just doesn’t do anything for you, again, you’ll know. And if it’s too over-the-top next to the neutral outfit and it takes over the whole thing, you’ll know that it will only clutter up a more dramatic outfit. By trying it on with a simple and neutral backdrop, you’ll see if the scarf or any new item works well for you.

If the new item does work for you, then you’ll have to try it with other items to see how it works and create new outfits. Maybe that new scarf looks great with your navy jacket but not so great with the brown top. Maybe it looks better with your dark green dress than with the burgundy jacket. Once you have a complete outfit, either take a picture of it or write down the elements on an index card. This way, you’ll know that this is something that works. When getting dressed, you can look through your photos or cards and pick an outfit.

Just to summarize…

  • Never be afraid to try something new if it appeals to you. If it doesn’t work for you, all you have to do is take it off and not wear it again. If it does work, you’ll have something good.
  • Always try each new item against a simple and neutral backdrop. This way, you can assess the item on its own merits and make sure it works for you. If it does work for you, then you can try it on with other items and other outfits and see how far you can go with it.

 

Play around, experiment, and have fun.

We Won’t Be Erased or Silenced

Aside from this blog, I write a column in a local Jewish newspaper about how to dress well and look good within tzniut. Three times (in two years), I have written articles for that column about the erasing of women. I (and many other women and men) agree that the policy of not using photos of women in Jewish publications and ads is harmful and dangerous. The only feedback I have seen up until now was positive.

But then came my third article. I wrote it as a shout-out to my friend Merri who came up with the hashtag of #Iwontdisappear. I shared the article on Facebook in the hope of the newspaper getting good feedback about it. I’m not sure if they got any positive feedback, but they certainly got some negative feedback. The only response printed was by the paper’s Rabbinic Consultant. He felt that while erasing women from photos is “silly,” but those publications have a right to do it. As it is, this paper has already taken a stand by using photos of women and therefore, the paper doesn’t need to publish any more articles on the subject.

There’s a part of me that’s laughing about how I’ve been promoted to chief troublemaker. But then there’s the part of me that knows how dangerous this is.

First, the policy of not using photos of women is not “silly.” It is harmful and dangerous for many reasons:

  • When even a woman’s face is considered too provocative to be seen, it turns the woman into an object. That’s the antithesis of tzniut no matter how much these publications claim it to be about tzniut.
  • It infantilizes men by implying that they cannot control themselves. B”H, I know a lot of men who are mentschen and who know how to treat others with respect and Derech Eretz. They know that it’s not my job to hide.
  • It puts the entire onus of tzniut on the women while forgetting that men are just as obligated in tzniut as the women.
  • It harms the woman’s parnassah by diminishing the impact of any ads for her professional products or services. The publications won’t erase the photos of men because they know that photos have an impact. The editor of my paper once told me that it’s important to have photos because they make the article come off better.
  • It deprives our girls of visible role models. The only images they’re seeing are the images from the secular world. Many of these images are not tzniut-appropriate and most are unhealthy. And our girls are seeing these images no matter how hard we try to avoid them. The only effective way to combat them is to give them healthy images of our Nashim Tzidkoniot. There are those who say that these girls have their mothers and grandmothers, but our communities hold our Nashim Tzidkoniot as role models because they know the importance of having good role models. And with healthy images, our girls can see these women as real people whom they can try to emulate.
  • It erases our history. One of the wonderful and unique things about Torah Judaism is that we have always held our Nashim Tzidkoniot as role models throughout history. And we used images of them as a matter of course until the 1990’s. We have enemies trying to erase our history and we don’t need to do that to ourselves.
  • It’s a Chillul Hashem. There is a prevalent belief that Torah Judaism is sexist/biased against women. This policy only perpetuates that belief and makes it harder to counter with the truth. It’s true that we do not change Halacha or water it down to please the secular world and of course we shouldn’t do that. But this policy has no basis in Halacha or Mesorah. So is it really worth it? I say no.
  • It’s dangerous on a physical level. Especially in the era of MeToo, we need to teach our children- boys AND girls- about self-respect and body autonomy. The policy of erasing women makes a clear statement that women and girls are too provocative to be seen and that men and boys cannot control themselves. That undermines our efforts to teach our children how to respect their own personal space and to respect others’ personal space.

So much for “silly.”

The response also stated that if other publications want to have this policy, it’s their problem and not ours. First, we’re all Jews and if this policy is harmful, then it is our problem. Second, if there are people trying to pressure our paper and others into going along with this policy, it’s very much our problem. And the pressure they’re putting on the paper to shut me up means that it’s definitely our problem.

The response stated that since they already take that stand by using photos of women that this paper is not the place for such things. Actually, the fact that it’s reaching so many people and touching that nerve is exactly why this paper is the perfect place for such things. It means that my writing is making a difference. That’s why I write in this paper (they don’t pay me money).

Sunday day and evening

We women do not deserve to disappear or to be silenced.

#Iwontdisappear

#Iwontbesilent

We Won’t Disappear

There has been a recent trend among many “frum” publications and institutions in which women are not seen. The publications won’t use photos of women or girls. If there’s a story involving women, they might use photos of the men involved but nothing of the women. Or they might blur or pixilate the woman’s face. Or they might photoshop the women and girls in some way. I recently saw an ad via social media that was supposedly for children’s clothing, but they removed the face of the girl and replaced it with a doll face. That goes beyond disrespectful all the way to creepy. The institutions might advertise fundraising events in which women are honored, but only the men are displayed. Or they might advertise their services and while they’ll show the male professionals, they won’t show the female professionals.

 Of course, all of this is done in the name of tzniut. As if we women are not supposed to be seen because the men can’t control themselves.

 The truth is that there is NOTHING tzniut about erasing women from view.

One of the main points of tzniut is that men and women deserve to be seen as people and not as sexual objects. By erasing women from view, even when they are dressed b’tzniut, they are only hypersexualizing women and turning us into sexual objects. That’s the exact opposite of tzniut.

 Plus, tzniut is just as incumbent on men as it is on women. Erasing women only puts the onus further on the women. That is, the men are fobbing their responsibility off on the women. Not good at all.

One of our responsibilities as Jews is to be an Ohr LaGoyim and bring good values and teachings into the world. When we make Torah and mitzvot look bad in some way, it’s a Chillul Hashem. There’s a very prevalent belief in the secular world that Torah Judaism is sexist/biased against women. Erasing women from view only perpetuates that myth and thus is a Chillul Hashem.

 I am proud to be part of a group of people- women and men- who are trying to raise awareness of this. Recently, my friend Merri came up with an idea. Every day until Shavuot, she’s posting selfies with the hashtag of #Iwontdisappear. My friend Ann suggested adding the hashtag of #frumwomenhavefaces and that was well-received. Shavuot is when we celebrate receiving the Torah and mitzvot, including the mitzvah of TRUE tzniut which demands that we women be seen. I myself have been doing this. I don’t want my daughter or my niece to ever feel that they have to hide themselves over someone else’s misguided idea of tzniut.  

Making cholent

In honor of Rosh Chodesh Sivan, I’m adding this post.

Sunday day and eveningOn Shavuot, we’re supposed to be celebrating Torah and mitzvot. Let’s celebrate the mitzvah of tzniut (among others) by showing our real selves and not letting ourselves be erased.

#Iwontdisappear

#frumwomenhavefaces