Wednesday, January 03, 2007

A Red-Hot Topic

The color red has been much under discussion recently. Yediot Achronot reports that the latest in the charedi war for tznius includes not only a ban of any red garments, but a call for women to purchase clothing only from a list of 30 approved stores. In reaction, Hot Chanie defends RaggedyMom’s red hair, and RaggedyMom discusses being a redhead. Never having been one myself, I can’t weigh in on the topic (though I’ve been an admirer of red hair ever since I read Anne of Green Gables in 3rd grade), but I will give my own take on the controversial issue of whether a frum girl should even think of wearing red.

I am personally a huge fan of bright colors, and usually wear nothing else (orange being my personal favorite). However, there are situations where I will think twice before donning an eye-catching sartorial hue. While I don’t believe that wearing red is inherently abhorrent and untznius, if the color of your clothing will cause others to look at you askance, you do run into a tznius dilemma. The bottom line is that if your clothes draw undue attention to your appearance, then they are not tzenua. For the most part, in today’s world, wearing red or any other bright color will not call more attention to oneself than wearing black or blue. However, to a certain extent, I believe that tznius can be relative. What I would wear to class is different than what I would wear on a visit to Meah Shearim (that’s an extreme example, but even in less extreme cases I would think twice). There are places where wearing red will make people stare, and if people stare, that is not tzenua. So while I don’t believe that wearing red is the equivalent of wearing a tight-fitting tank top (which indisputably calls attention to your body, no matter where you are), I do believe in following the minhag hamakom and not causing yourself to stand out. And if the minhag hamakom is too difficult to keep—then perhaps that makom is not the place for you.

8 comments:

Anonymous said...

I think orange and blue should be the only legal colors.

kasamba said...

I so agree with your take on it!

SJ said...

Anon- wouldn't that produce its own startling standard of uniformity, causing chareidim to ban any colors other than orange or blue (lest one stand out) and causing me to refuse to wear either one (for fear of being conformist)? I think I prefer things as they stand, thanks.

Kasamba - yay, thank you! I agree with my take on it too!

RaggedyMom said...

Great personal view on the whole topic! SJ, I always felt a little conspicuous in bright clothing - BUT that's likely more due to the fact that being a pale redheaded type I tend to wear darker, more muted colors anyway. I'm just not used to seeing myself in brights.

In Israel, do you feel like the clothing issues/distinctions are more pronounced?

SJ said...

RaggedyMom - in general, factionalism in Israel tends to be even more extreme than here in the US (though NY isn't too shabby either). However, no matter where you go, people will judge you based on appearance to some extent (though in my out-of-town hometown people think about these things much less than other places I've been.) I guess I can't imagine that in Israel things are really worse than in NY, they're just slightly different. What do you think?

RaggedyMom said...

My impression has been that Israel is definitely factionalized along stricter, more clear-cut lines. Here in NY, I think that life details carry an equal potential for judgemental-ness, but the "rules" are trickier to learn and vary more among sub-communities. Sigh. Can't we all just get along?!

SJ said...

RM - true. Coming from an out-of-town community (where things were very different) to Israel and then to NY was a rude awakening for me in many ways. I guess all we can do is try our best to respect people's differences and promote Ahavas Yisroel in our own lives.

Ariza said...

Good words.