Monday, June 06, 2005

Rage Against The Jeans

Okay, so, denim is not the right "Ruach," right? So why is it okay to wear in camp?

In high school, they preached all about how denim is not the right ruach, it's not for princesses, and blah, blah, blah. Those lovely Smart-alecks--ahem, teachers- knew exactly what they were doing-they did such a great job at showing us how bad denim is, that I own more denim than I can keep track of.

In fact, I debated the whole denim issue in Seminary one day this year, all while wearing a denim skirt (the one I am wearing now---hmmm). And this teacher agreed that denim is not the right "ruach," and you would never see a princess in a denim skirt, yadda yadda yadda. But to redeem herself, just so we don't think she's "crazy or anything, " she admitted that she just, "bought my 12 year old daughter a denim skirt yesterday." So don't tell me it's wrong. Don't tell me not to wear denim, if you buy it for your Bat Mitzvah.

So I don't get it. The whole thing they always tell us is that we should never forget who/where we came from, that we are Am HaNivchar (The chosen nation) and all that. If that's the case, and denim is sooo bad when you are in Brooklyn, why should you be allowed to wear denim in camp? You're still the same princess you were before you got on the bus. People say the same thing for pants, which is obviously a halacha issue, while the denim thing is an image issue. If you don't wear pants in Brooklyn, don't wear them in Florida. You bet. If you don't wear denim in Brooklyn, don't wear it in camp.

This whole not wearing denim thing is just dumb. Instead of preaching about a fabric, try telling your students about dressing b'tznius according to Halacha, not the image you have in mind for your school or whatever.

And about the guys. What's so bad about the guys wearing jeans? They don't have to be baggy and faded and all that becuase that simply doesn't look respectable. But what about nice, dark straight jeans, and those sqaure-toe shoes...(how hot!?) What's wrong with that? They still look put-together and all that. Why should guys have to lose out on wearing Jeans becuase people are going to judge them based on it?

This is what the community has come to, people. Judging people by the fabric they wear. Don't you think that's a bit much?


At 6/06/2005 10:04 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Coupla things:

(a) This is an old story, starting with yeshivos dictating what kind of material yarmulke is allowed to be worn. If that's not about image, I don't know what is.

(b) I know it was an aside, but you cannot fault your teacher for buying her daughter denim when she preaches otherwise. Perhaps her daughter is an at-risk teen, and making this concession will prevent further (and more severe) damage. I had a rabbi who was very anti-TV. One day at his house, I noticed - you guessed it - a TV! Ends up, his elderly mother lived with him and needed the TV to maintain her sanity. I can almost guarantee the rabbi never watched it. Point is, he didn't have to say, "Well, now that I have one in my home, I say, TVs are muttar!" That would be silly. Same with your teacher. She could very well be against denim jeans, and her buying her daughter a pair has nothing to do whatsoever with what she holds. If you want to argue that she did a lousy job raising her kid because the girl feels the need to wear denim - perhaps you could make that case, but that's an entirely different issue.

(c) Did they really say it was okay to wear them in camp? If they said that, then I agree with you, that that makes no sense.

At 6/06/2005 10:22 AM, Anonymous J said...

Just as a side point, who died and made your seminary teacher the worlds authority on royal dress. The royals of today allow themselves to be viewed in or sorts of casual clothes nowadays (a random search turns up this picture of the late Princess Diana in jeans If those seminary teachers really want to hold by the whole royal thing than they should actually take a look around and see what royals of today really wear. If they don't and want to make up their own standard, than they have no right to dictate the said standard to others in my opinion (which, by the way, is also quite humble and quite Jewish).

At 6/06/2005 11:06 AM, Blogger EN said...

I believe that the issue of jeans/denim/colored shirt ect. has to do with more when and where it is being worn. If you are relaxing and casual such as home or park it is permitted. But other times such as in school, work, interacting with people you want to make an impression you shouldn't wear jeans. Jeans started for people who were gold rushing and digging. The president wouldn't wear casual jeans to a summit meeting. He might wear it in his back yard but not as a daily occurence when he goes ot duing his business, even if it is going to the local supermarket. What a person wears does reflect what they asocciate themselves to. Jeans are asocciated with tents and diggers, not Jews. This is my personal opinion.

At 6/06/2005 11:45 AM, Anonymous J said...

En, so basically what your saying is unless the occasion calls for formal dress, i.e. a wedding, dinner, etc... it's ok to go casual?

At 6/06/2005 11:46 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Re last comment: "This is my personal opinion." What other kinds of opinions are there? I, for one, have never heard of a non-personal opinion.

At 6/06/2005 7:16 PM, Blogger Michelle said...

I can write a whole page of responses to all your comments!
First, to the guy about the yarmulkes, that's a whole entry on its own, but I am not one to discuss it since I am a girl, and have not been subject to that too much, thankfully. I do sometimes wish that my little brother would be able to switch his velvet and join the rest of my family in the knitted yarmulkes...See, this is where it gets me. For some reason, a velvet yarmulke has become a complete turn off for me. Like really. Every time I go out with a guy with a velvet, my initial reaction is, "how do I get him to switch?"

Re my teacher, she's 12. I don't think she's at-risk. She doesn't have to buy her kid a denim skirt, and she doesn't have to tell us either--but maybe that would be dishonest..hmmm

The impression I have gotten from these people is usually that it's okay in camp.

Also-J-I cannot believe you would consider the "Royal" family in England as royalty! Phooey. They are GOYIM! They are not royal. We are Jews, we carry true royalty...blah, blah, blah...that's what the peeps in Sem in Bais Yaakovs would answer you. (Although there is some truth to it)

EN-you are entitled to your "personal" opinion just as I am. I agree that there is not yet a denim to fit all occasions, (although some fall into the category of casual-chic--paired with a nice peasant top, work well at an office party...)

That's all for now.

At 6/06/2005 8:43 PM, Blogger EN said...

J- To clarify my position and opinion, I was explaining the "minhag" of why teacher and rabbis in the "yeshivish velt" conjole students of these institutions to wear "befitting" clothes at such an early age. I believe that the Rabbis would agree to the fact that wearing "denim/jeans" involve no issur, but it has become more of an issue of "imaging". This theory would answer the questions that were posed of why it is okay to wear "denim/jeans" as opposed to black skirts ect.(or whatever else is considered the norm in yeshivish schools) in camp or why the teacher would buy it for such a young daughter who is not ready yet to undertand the actions of what she wears and is only worried about her image in front of her peers or her own personal comfort (or any other reason why a girl would wear denim as apposed to black skirt).This also explains why people would make a judgment based on the clothes someone wears because it shows they are not mature enough yet for whatever reason to accept the fact that denim has its roots in "diggers" and not in such royalty as "black skirts", which is not as comfortable, because we don't want to have enjoyment from this world because of our great hights of spirituallity and closeness to g-d. Or something to that a/effect.

At 6/06/2005 9:27 PM, Anonymous J said...

Michelle - I wasn't saying that the British Royals are necessarily the paradigm of royalty, it was merrily an example. My point is that your teacher's standards are simply conjured out of thin air. She says "royalty wouldn't wear this (pointing at you in your kefirah skirt) but rather they wear this (pointing to her suit from Macy's)". She simply is drawing lines in the sand based on her personal feelings on the matter. I don't think that's right. It's kind of like saying that Chassidic dress is authentic Jewish dress because that's what they've been wearing since they were in Europe. They started wearing it there and now fraudulently stake a claim at authentic Jewish dress. Your teacher is doing the same.

En - Your point is so badly argued. Denim skirts have their roots in diggers. I hardly think that Levi Strauss (Jewish by the way) was selling gold miners skirts. If you are referring to the actual material that clothing is made out of, I don't think that you'd sink that low to suggest that we conduct research as to the origins of every material that clothing is made out of and "assur" the ones that were not first worn by Jews?

But listen, if you want to make some sort of coherent argument why denim is inherently evil simply because "yeshiva buchrim" (wacky spelling by the way) like yourself do not wear that material, go ahead.

At 6/07/2005 6:02 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great discussion, by the way. I see both sides, and in the end, the yeshivas and bais yaakovs are inconsistent.

If you say that denim is no good because you wouldn't wear it on a job interview, or if you worked in a bank, then by those standards, you have to look at every kid's shirt and determine if it fits those criteria.

Many high schools have a button-down-shirt-only policy. What if it's colorful, or cheaply made? Why is a tacky shirt any more honorable than a nice pair of jeans? You wouldn't wear a $3 Value Depot button-down to a respectable job, so why allow those? "Because then, where do you draw the line?"

So in the end, the whole thing becomes subjective.

At 6/07/2005 12:40 PM, Blogger Jack's Shack said...

Hey, I am just a guy wandering around the derech but none of this makes any real sense to me. I just don't buy into it.

At 6/07/2005 9:35 PM, Blogger Michelle said...

About the Value Depot thing-Ha. Value Depot shirts in a Bais Yaakov nowadays? End up with the bottom of the barrel kids, because if there is no polo horsey or Gap tag hanging out,you are invisible.

At 6/23/2005 8:06 PM, Blogger Moiy-rah said...

its so sad how in HS they totally focus you on teh wrong thing. All day its tznius, and whats wrong with wearing anything aside from a "classy suit" or tent. whatever happened to yiras shamayim, and midos? Once you ahve those fundimentals, hopefully the sensitivities( such as tzniues) will fall into place. They drill the girls so much into not wearing denim that the only thing i wear now since i graduated is denim.

At 6/25/2005 9:17 PM, Blogger Michelle said...

I agree with you 100%-- I am actually in middle of writing a whole long thing that i may title, "The fallacy they call Bais Yaakov" but we'll see. You sure we didn't go to the same school? LOL

At 6/27/2005 8:01 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Medrash relates that as Chava was created, it was repeated over and over "Shetihei Tznua-So that she should be modest" For a woman, chesed, torah etc. is just not as important as tznius. A female's main role is "Shetihei tznua." Tznius is not a sensitivity?!?!?!? It is a female's purpose! I think that today's generation has this attitude that everything has to be warm and fuzzy and we all have to come to realizations on our own yada yada yada. This is not the torah attitude.

And those people who resent the constant tznius speeches and "only wear denim" because their high school forbade it, may do this as a result of their own issues (control, resentment...). I'm not saying the bais yaakov system is perfect (far from it) but I think that our current "build self-esteem first, let kids realize things on their own" attitude is just all wrong.

At 6/27/2005 6:29 PM, Blogger Michelle said...

But denim is not a lack of tznius. Its better to wear a loose fitting denim skirt and stroll around in sneakers, than to wear a tight short black skirt that doesn't cover your knees and strut in stilletos.
I agree that Tznius is extremely important, as I have said- it's an outward expression of what's going on inside.


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