Sisterhood Blog

Wear Makeup, Get Expelled From School

By Frimet Goldberger

  • Print
  • Share Share

Last week, I reported that women who wear makeup are at a higher risk of developing breast cancer, according to the findings of the Satmar Rebbe, Aaron Teitelbaum, a highly revered doctor from the IOBW (Institute of Blame Women, in case you didn’t read it). Well, sure enough, as his son promised in an announcement of the finding, it didn’t take long for the ban on makeup to follow.

In a letter titled “A Time To Act For God,” the central authority at United Talmudical Academy of Satmar, the faction under the leadership of Teitelbaum, informed parents that makeup is banned for students. This letter, which was mailed to the parents of Satmar students, stated: “A student from our school, no matter what age, is not allowed to apply makeup on her face in any which way. This includes weddings of sisters, brothers, uncles, aunts, bar mitzvahs, tenoyims (engagement parties), etc.” This was immediately followed by a warning that any student who disobeys will be expelled, perhaps permanently, depending on the outcome of a meeting between her parents and the school’s spiritual advisors.

A reproduction of the ban on makeup letter.

The new prohibition, the letter said, comes as a result of widespread disregard as of late for the makeup restrictions already in place for women and girls on special occasions.

The assertion that young Satmar girls have modernized in recent years is entirely untrue. I attend nieces’ and nephews’ weddings every few months, and I have yet to see the widespread disregard the Satmar authorities speak of. If anything, girls have become more pious and modest in the past few decades as the community as a whole radicalized. Restrictions are constantly being updated, newly-married women are out-piousing their mothers by covering their wigs with hats and wearing thicker stockings, and this generation of Satmar students behave and dress more tznius than I ever had to growing up.

In my schooldays at Bais Rochel of Kiryas Joel, students never wore makeup in school, or they would be expelled in a heartbeat. However, in our teenage years, family occasions, especially siblings’ weddings, were an exception. A sister or brother’s wedding was the highlight of my year — a time to wear puffy silk and wool dresses, get my hair done professionally and wear makeup. I remember the excitement, how every female member of the family would allow herself a touch of light eyeliner and mascara to accentuate her eyes. I remember feeling all giddy when my mother gave her approval for the makeup artist to apply a dab of mascara on my lashes for my brother’s wedding. I wore a gold and navy mid-calf gown that looked like something Lady Mary from Downton Abbey would wear, danced all night and slept on my back so the mascara wouldn’t smudge. The next morning I proudly flaunted the remnants of the previous night’s occasion, much to my classmates’ envy. And they did the same when it was their turn. Everyone knew of the wedding so there was no risk of being expelled. To be sure, we were taught that the epitome of tznius was not wearing any makeup — that Jewish daughters have an inherent charm and beauty that does not require enhancement. We were to strive to emulate the pale faces of our bachainte (charmed) teachers, we were told.

We all internalized this message. I even had an ultra-pious teenage phase in which I swore to never wear mascara — a roundabout way of rebelling against my sisters’ behavior. A teenager likes to distinguish herself. But most students who were not from the ultra radical families adorned their faces at siblings’ weddings and on a more regular basis after they graduated school.

Now that’s all gone. Students will have no choice but to abide by this rule or risk expulsion. I cannot help but feel sorry for these girls who are growing up in an environment more radical than it ever was before in the history of Satmar. Restrictions, especially on clothing, are getting ever tighter, and the little opportunities I was afforded, such as working in an office, are now dwindling.

And now this — the ban on makeup.

My teenage acne called; it asked for its right to be hidden from public view.


Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: makeup, cancer, Satmar, Jewish

The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.




Find us on Facebook!
  • "Despite the great pain and sadness surrounding a captured soldier, this should not shape the face of this particular conflict – not in making concessions and not in negotiations, not in sobering assessments of this operation’s achievements or the need to either retreat or move forward." Do you agree?
  • Why genocide is always wrong, period. And the fact that some are talking about it shows just how much damage the war in Gaza has already done.
  • Construction workers found a 75-year-old deli sign behind a closing Harlem bodega earlier this month. Should it be preserved?
  • "The painful irony in Israel’s current dilemma is that it has been here before." Read J.J. Goldberg's latest analysis of the conflict:
  • Law professor Dan Markel waited a shocking 19 minutes for an ambulance as he lay dying after being ambushed in his driveway. Read the stunning 911 transcript as neighbor pleaded for help.
  • Happy birthday to the Boy Who Lived! July 31 marks the day that Harry Potter — and his creator, J.K. Rowling — first entered the world. Harry is a loyal Gryffindorian, a matchless wizard, a native Parseltongue speaker, and…a Jew?
  • "Orwell would side with Israel for building a flourishing democracy, rather than Hamas, which imposed a floundering dictatorship. He would applaud the IDF, which warns civilians before bombing them in a justified war, not Hamas terrorists who cower behind their own civilians, target neighboring civilians, and planned to swarm civilian settlements on the Jewish New Year." Read Gil Troy's response to Daniel May's opinion piece:
  • "My dear Penelope, when you accuse Israel of committing 'genocide,' do you actually know what you are talking about?"
  • What's for #Shabbat dinner? Try Molly Yeh's coconut quinoa with dates and nuts. Recipe here:
  • Can animals suffer from PTSD?
  • Is anti-Zionism the new anti-Semitism?
  • "I thought I was the only Jew on a Harley Davidson, but I was wrong." — Gil Paul, member of the Hillel's Angels. http://jd.fo/g4cjH
  • “This is a dangerous region, even for people who don’t live there and say, merely express the mildest of concern about the humanitarian tragedy of civilians who have nothing to do with the warring factions, only to catch a rash of *** (bleeped) from everyone who went to your bar mitzvah! Statute of limitations! Look, a $50 savings bond does not buy you a lifetime of criticism.”
  • That sound you hear? That's your childhood going up in smoke.
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.