Can’t Stand Covering Hair
Help! I just got married two weeks ago and started covering my hair. I find after this short time that I cannot stand covering my hair. It is so uncomfortable, I feel like dying. I have tried all kinds of hair coverings, from sheitls to scarves to different types of hats, and they all bother me and I feel I can never get used to it. I cannot take the misery this is causing me.
I just married the greatest man in the world, but I feel like a prisoner being forced to wear a hair covering. My husband says he wouldn’t mind if I don’t cover my hair, and he would rather I be comfortable than to comply with this requirement. But I find myself in a community that would be very judgmental if I didn’t. I’m afraid that members of our community would snub me if I didn’t follow this. There is even a synagogue around here that has a sign on the door that says married women must have their hair covered to enter the building.
What am I to do?
First, please accept my heartfelt Mazal Tov on your marriage. May you and your Chosson be zoche to build your Bayis Ne’eman b’Yisrael for many, many years to come in good health, contentment and continued growth in Torah and Yirah.
While I do not have to cover my hair, I truly empathize with your feelings and with the difficulties that the Mitzvah of covering your hair brings with it.
Please allow me to suggest that for most newly married women covering hair is an incredibly unnatural and uncomfortable Mitzvah to fulfill. I have spoken with countless newly-marrieds over the years and it is something that I hear over and over again.
However, what is also true is that once it becomes a natural part of a person’s life, it becomes much more bearable to the point of feeling normal (dare I say?). With all of its difficulties, covering hair is a Torah obligation. There are a few explanations for it, but one that I find particularly satisfying and inspiring is that it is to preserve the hair as an aspect of intimacy between husband and wife. It is the natural beauty of the woman that is meant to only be between her and her husband.
I do not mean to belittle in any way your emotions and negative feelings towards keeping your hair covered, but may I suggest that you try reading To Be a Jewish Woman by Dr. Lisa Aiken, or Doesn’t Anyone Blush Anymore by Rabbi Manis Freedman, or Circle, Arrow, Spiral: Exploring Gender in Judaism by Miriam Kosman. They all help explain these sensitive and delicate concepts in a refreshing and contemporary fashion.
Best wishes from the AskTheRabbi.org Team
To clarify things, I personally lose no sleep over having my hair uncovered in public. That’s not the issue. The issue I have is that my community does not tolerate me failing to cover my hair. I get glares from people who know I am married but see my head uncovered. So far, the way I have been dealing with this is by covering my hair only in places where I can expect to see members of the community. But I really dislike having to do this. I feel I can never be free until the community accepts and tolerates me for who I am. This issue has been causing me a lot of stress in what should be the happiest time of my life.