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Black Women, Jewish Women, and Fake Hair

Finding the whole cross-cultural wig situation pretty hairlarious

I was recently moved by two items I saw on the internet within 15 minutes of each other. The first was a message regarding a sheitl, or wig, for sale. The announcement was being made on behalf of the owner by her brother, which was a piece of enmeshment that made me glad I was an only child, and notified the world that the sheitl was a downright steal at only 7000 NIS (1900 USD), since the original purchase price was more than 8000 NIS.

I had almost gotten over my amusement about the wig when I chanced upon an article advising that a pastor in a certain Black church in Waco, TX had forbidden his flock from wearing weave. Now this confused me for a minute, because fake hair is pretty important in the Black community. And then I understood. The pastor couldn’t be banning ALL fake hair. He was just banning hair that looked so fake, that you could call a woman out about it without the risk of getting your own hair yanked out.

And that’s a major difference between Black women who wear fake hair and Orthodox Jewish women who wear fake hair. A Black woman will go from nearly bald one day to full-on Beyonce the next day, and swear her hair is real. “Vitamins and a good night’s sleep! Does the trick every time.” But she’s only going to spend a few hundred dollars on it.

The Jewish woman WANTS you to know it’s fake. And still spends more money on her wig than I spent on my wedding. And so, in the spirit of cooperation espoused by the great Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., I have a few pieces of advice:

1. If everyone knows it is fake, don’t pay a premium. When you got engaged, would you have wanted your husband to announce the ring was cubic zirconium, but that he spent $5000 on it anyway, because it was really pretty?!

2. I thought this was something that went without saying, but don’t pay retail!! I found a wholesale internet site selling wigs made from virgin European hair for less than a third of the prices of the main wigseller websites geared towards the Orthodox Jewish community. Although how they knew the girls were virgins is a quality control issue I don’t know if I can place a lot of trust in.

3. Decide your end goal. Is this supposed to impress people because of how good you look? Or is it supposed to impress people by how much money you spent. Because all your girlfriends know what your hair really looks like after 45 minutes on the stair climber, and the only man who is supposed to be appreciating it can’t tell if the hair is from a Dane, a Swede, or a dyed alpaca.

The one thing I really don’t understand about expensive sheitls is that the women wearing them have already won the evolutionary jackpot. You have beat the shidduch game, ladies! You have come out of the trenches and proven your worth. And yet, here you are still parading around in the frum equivalent of a peacock’s tail, as if you are competing for a mate. Honestly, sometimes it seems to me like we should be raising sheitl money for the single women, so that their hair can look half as good as the married ones.

And as for me, I am about to look for my own sheitl, purchased ten years ago from a Detroit beauty supply store for double digits, since I may need an Israeli passport soon, and I bring out the hair for government ID. The last time I had it on, my daughter asked me, “Is that YOUR hair, mommy?!” And I answered that it was with a completely straight face. Of course it’s mine… I’ve got the receipt, don’t I?!

About the Author
Malynnda Littky made aliyah to Israel in 2007 from Oak Park, Michigan, and recently moved from Mitzpe Yericho to Hadera with her four children. She is currently employed as the Marketing Manager for SafeBlocks, a blockchain application security solutions provider.