Several years ago, I read an article in a frum publication (which I have since stopped reading because they won’t use photos of women) describing the challenges faced by Torah-observant Jews attending the personal events of their non-observant or non-Jewish friends and family. That article was relevant for me because my husband and I were planning to attend just such an event. One of the issues brought up was that of tzniut. A woman commented for the article saying that she attended a wedding wearing a fancy outfit with sleeves and a high neckline and long skirt and shaytl and one of the women at the wedding told her how beautiful and tasteful and dignified she looked. This woman felt good about that and said that she had made a Kiddush Hashem. That article, along with our family event, inspired me to write a couple of articles about what to wear for secular events.
Even before I started attending headwrapping events and buying mitpachot from my favorite vendors, I had started looking at video tutorials and I started experimenting with new and different wrap styles. It drew compliments and when I contacted the Wrapunzel leaders about that, they told me that I made a Kiddush Hashem.
Recently, the school where I have my day job had a color war. One of the challenges was a scavenger hunt. Students were allowed to photograph items that weren’t available for taking. One of the items was “royal robes,” and one of the students said that my mitpachat looked like something royal and he asked to take a photo. Of course I said yes and the photo came out very well. And of course I posted about it on social media and everyone agrees that an attractive head covering can come off royal and regal. Another Kiddush Hashem.
All of these Kiddushei Hashem could not have happened if we women really did have to hide for the sake of tzniut.
Many people think that Kiddush Hashem is about sacrificing oneself for the sake of Torah and Judaism. That’s true but that’s only one part of it. Kiddush Hashem is about making Torah and mitzvot and Judaism look good. One not-so-difficult way of doing that is by dressing and grooming in ways that are attractive without being provocative. But there’s no way for that to work if we’re hiding and others can’t see us.
True tzniut does NOT allow us to hide. We’re supposed to dress and groom and carry ourselves in ways that reflect who we are as people. Men AND women are supposed to see each other as real people and not as objects and we can’t do that if we don’t see each other.
Plus, the best way to teach anything, including tzniut, is by example. When other people see us dressing attractively and tastefully and really showing our personalities, they can be inspired to do the same. This is what I mean by Kiddush Hashem- I want people to see the true beauty that Torah Judaism has to offer.
So if anyone tells me that I’m not supposed to show my face, I’m just going to try that much harder to use my face and my voice and my appearance to make a Kiddush Hashem. And they can either be jealous or they can do the right thing and join me.