Do you feel that there’s anything wrong with high school girls wearing makeup?
I think it’s an important question, so pay attention. I know that fifty girls came here tonight to hear the lecture so listen well.
The gemara tells us that Ezra HaSofer along with the Anshei Knesses Hagedola instituted many great takkanos, many great decrees for the Jewish people. If you study his takkanos, you’llsee that they are tremendous decrees, very important institutions.
Now, included in his takkanos, this great man also decreed the following: שיהיו רוכלין מחזירין בעיירות – that the peddlers of cosmetics should go around in all Jewish towns making cosmetics available. It’s remarkable! This great sage who made decrees for the preservation of the Torah, for the holiness of the Jewish nation, he had no other business to take care that he made a decree that Jewish women should have available to them perfumes and spices and cosmetics, in every place, in all towns, at all times?! So we see it’s an important Torah principle that women should make themselves presentable to their husbands. It’s considered an important thing.
I’ll take the liberty of repeating one of my aphorisms, one of my pieces of advice to married women: “Smell good and keep quiet.”
Once a man met me and he said, “My wife was once a talmida of yours many years ago and she heard your advice – and she fulfills it fifty percent.” Fifty percent, that’s also something.
However, this is for married women and at home. Married women on the street should try to limit the conspicuous forms of makeup. At home, for your husband, it’s a mitzvah. It’s a mitzvah always to be beautiful at home. And therefore, a woman should always wear a sheitel at home – don’t wear a cloth around your head. If you’re washing the floor and your husband is ringing the doorbell, quickly go to the window, tell him to wait and dress up and look your best. You have to be a queen when your husband comes home.
The women, however, who welcome their husband on hands and knees on the floor, scrubbing the floor and he walks in – and she’s crabby too – but when she goes into the street she’s dressed fit to kill, she is doing just the opposite of her function. She makes herself attractive to strangers and not to her husband. And that’s exactly what the Yetzer Hara wants.
And therefore, home is the place to be attractive. On the street, be as plain as possible. Still better, you shouldn’t be seen. Girls, as much as possible don’t be seen.
Now, if you’re not married, you don’t need makeup unless you have to go out. And this I want to tell frum girls. Frum girls, if you’re about to go out, don’t rely on your natural appearance. It’s a big mistake! Because these boys don’t know the truth — they think that the fancy curls in your hair are born with you. They don’t know it takes hours to do it.
It pays to invest efforts to get a chashuveh ben Torah and a chashuve ben Torah – even a Lakewooder or even a Satmerer – also wants something with good wrappings around it. And therefore, you should make it your business to go to the beautician before you go out your first or second or third time, whatever it is. It’s very important.
Otherwise, high school girls who are not in the marriage market yet should avoid wearing any makeup. It’s a waste of effort and it’s applied in the wrong situation.
TAPE # 52 (July 1974)