Tznuis Showdown at SuperCuts
Last week I my daughter and I went to get get haircuts at a local (but not too local) discount hair cuttery. Although I cover my hair most of the time my faithful readers know that like to keep my "real" hair looking good, and short enough to keep covered easily and comfortably.
Now I know that many frum women would never get their hair cut in a public place, prefering to go to their local sheitel macher (wig maker) for trims or perhaps they have their husbands lop off their ponytail with their child's safety scissors but alas I am too cheap and vain for either of those options. I go for the quick, cheap, anonymous back of the salon hair cut and I'm OK with that.
This time, however, there was a bit of a twist. When it was my turn to have my hair cut my stylist turned out to be a sweet young muslim woman in a hijab. For those of you from the midwest or living under a rock, a hijab is that head scarf that muslim women wear, covering their heads and necks. I, on the other hand, was wearing a mitpachat (hebrew for headscarf) or tichel (Yiddish for a headscarf- also known as a shmateh if you ask my mother) covering only my hair.
It was a tznius showdown.
When I uncovered my hair I did feel more self-conscious about it than usual. Would this woman uncover her head for a haircut? I wondered. Would she consider ME immodest or worse a hypocrite? Did I care? If so why? I sat kind of lost in thought in the chair for a moment until the woman asked "Are you ready?"
When I did uncover my head the woman was surprised to find my hair was already fairly short. I told her I like to keep people guessing. She replied that friends were always surprised to find that she often changes her hairstyles and colors despite the fact that she keeps her hair covered up in public. As she washed and cut my hair we chatted about religion and head coverings (the when, where and how but most interestingly not the WHY.)
I learned that her tradition was to begin covering her hair at puberty (in her case around seventh grade) and I explained to her the tradition of covering one's hair after marriage and the different opinions regarding divorcees and widows. Neither of us covered our heads in the privacy of our own homes (sans guests), or among women, and close relatives. She asked me about wearing skirts (she herself was wearing loose modest pants... one point for Shifra?) it was a very interesting conversation and a good haircut too!
Typically the end of the haircut is the akward point for me. Someone has done their best (hopefully) to make my hair look good and how do I thank them? By jamming a hat on my head as quickly as possible! I always tip more than generously so the stylist knows I'm happy with their work despite the fact that I have done everything possible to hide it the moment that it is completed.
This time however, it was quite easy. As I tied up my tichel the stylist readjusted her slipping headwear. I was very curious about how it stayed on at all and she explained that there is a long pin that goes through the top of the scarf and through her hair which is tied up underneath it keeping it in place. (I think I should start marketing those to the frum community but I'll need a name that sounds better than "hijab pin.") In return I showed her how I tied up my scarf Israeli style and we both smiled as I left the store so I guess it was a draw.