Sisterhood Blog

Nip/Tuck — With Your Rebbe's Blessing

By Allison Kaplan Sommer

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Spiritual beauty is increasingly not enough for ultra-Orthodox women. More and more, plastic surgery is becoming acceptable in a community where it was once unheard of, and rabbis are relaxing their opposition to it, a recent article in Ynet reports.

Religious Jews are notorious for shunning cosmetic alterations to the body — tattoos are a famous no-no.

Until very recently, nose jobs and breast enhancements were looked upon as frivolous procedures for the secular community, in which women (and men) were willing to risk their lives to serve their vanity. But now, with the risks of cosmetic surgery reduced, a small but steady trickle of Haredim are finding their way to the plastic surgeon’s offices, with the blessing of their religious leaders.

It seems only fair — particularly for younger women. So much in the Haredi community rides on making a good marriage. Less attractive men have more opportunities to overcome their physical flaws with achievements and Torah study. It’s not the same for women. Even if her prospects as a brilliant homemaker and mother seem clear, a homely woman is going to have a more difficult time attracting a worthy match.

As I see it, any progress towards a recognition that physical and spiritual well-being are linked is a positive development in the Haredi community.

Perhaps after the community relaxes its attitude towards plastic surgery, its leaders will reconsider the discomfort dressing in layers of thick fabric, hats and wigs in 90-degree summer heat, or the toll that decades of non-stop pregnancy and childbirth takes on a woman’s body…


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