I have very keen memories of my grandmother’s house. I remember the smell, I remember the ‘brown theme’, I remember the candies, but most of all I remember the blush.
An einikle kallah would come in and she’d come running. Blush Bubby.
Blush Bobby would brush the makeup up and down the kallah’s cheek bones in a not very fashionable line with a not very attractive color. But she’d constantly repeat, A Kallah must be shayn, A kallah must be shayn!
Our aunts and uncles would krechts. Makeup is not tsnuis. But babby would insist. A kallah must be shayn!
Years later, and these kallahs are now mothers of families. I meet them at simchas, at parties or just anywhere and the blush is still there, deep imprinted on both cheeks. It’s bubbie’s memory.
But things changed. Below the cheeks another few chins have been added, around the forehead some wrinkles have emerged and at the place of the waist sits a 15 pound metzayveh, memory of the times that were.
I watch my friend get herself a new dress. She dons a size 18woman, walks back and forth in front of the Tauber’s mirror all the time wiggling her behind in both directions. Then she walks out feeling just fine with the way she looks. Wiggle, wiggle.
Only a kallah darf zeyn shayn?
I know that we women should be the symbol of modesty. We should not flaunt our figures or mess with our faces (admit it, you have acne. Everyone must know!). But on the flip side of the coin, how do we keep our men from looking if there’s nowhere to look away to?
I don’t suggest we should all stand in line for a lip-plumping procedure. I don’t suggest we go on the carrot diet. I suggest we acknowledge our duty and let our men know that at home too, there is a hot girl.
Drop the Kaff’s, go for a waxing.
Yes, mostly the important message that our gender holds should be communicated in the stark night, while you are following instructions A to F from the Kallah’s Heart Attack Manual. But some of it should be conveyed by presenting yourself neatly, femininely and modestly.
Why do we think the abdominal extra is another freebie we take home from the hospital after the birth of our first, to be filled with lots of chocolate while the kids are at school? Why do we think a healthy mother is one with folding hips? Why do we own just one decent dress, and live our lives in a big, baggy, La Smock robe?
Women rush out of the mikvah, with cold raw hands, and half-tsiflogen sheitlech. It doesn’t occur to anybody to stay for another hour and prepare an isha nooah.
Are we really modest or just living on easy street?