This post is the second in “Feminist, Orthodox and Engaged,” a series by Simi Lampert on love, sex, and betrothal in the life of a Modern Orthodox woman.
I parked my car in a garage for the second day in a row, and the parking attendant recognized me. “Will you be parking here every day?” he asked. “I hope not!,” I said, thinking of the cost.
“I hope yes,” he replied, leering slightly. (Okay, the leering might just be the result of my own imagination.)
When I paid my ticket that night, I flashed my left hand, hoping the diamond on my finger would tell him what I wanted to but didn’t: back off. I’m engaged.
Growing up a Modern Orthodox woman in the US meant trying to balance the ideals of American beauty — basically, be beautiful and sexy and desirable— with the modesty Judaism preaches. I ended up inheriting a confusing mix of the two and would wear skirts and long sleeves, but wanted men to find me attractive nonetheless.
I do my makeup when I’m not too lazy, make sure my hair looks nice, and I kind of secretly like it when men whistle at me. And now that I’m engaged, this mixture of glamour and modesty has only gotten more complicated.
I love my ring for superficial reasons. It is a beautiful, sparkly piece of art. But I also love it for more meaningful ones. My fiancé gave it to me as a symbol of his affection and our plan to spend forever together, and for that reason alone it means more to me than anything else I own.
I catch myself staring at it all the time, adjusting it, playing with the light at my desk, or on the train, or anywhere else it catches a beam. Unsolicited compliments on my ring leave me smiling to myself the rest of the day. And yes, I’ve been looking at it between every other sentence while writing this.
When my fiancé proposed, ring in hand, my response, instead of “yes,” was “ooh, give it to me, I want it!” And I do want it. I love the feeling of it, the permanence of it. The weight of it is both comforting and a reminder of things to come.
And being attractive still matters: only now, it’s less important to me to appear pretty in the eyes of everyone I pass, and more important to be considered the most beautiful woman in the world to one person.