The ultra-Orthodox strictly adhere to “charm is deceitful and beauty is vain,” but for the women of these communities, receiving beauty treatments has become a regular custom.
It’s possible to find many women entering through the back door of the Yeelat Chen Cosmetics so as not to be seen. This is a beauty treatment center founded 21 years ago by Yaffa Larry. The cosmetic center also received a blessing by the late Rabbi Ben Tzion Abba Shaul, then head of the Porat Yosef Yeshiva.
For Holocaust survivor Yaffa Ben-Yashar receiving treatments have been a form of therapy.
“Psychologically it left me scarred, and cosmetically it helps me, it’s a pleasant experience,” she said. “Even though he [her husband] says that for him I was always the most beautiful woman. And anyway he also says that it isn’t a mitzvah to be ugly.”
Larry attributes her view on the importance of feminine beauty to the Jewish sources, saying “according to Jewish law, a woman must look her best for her husband.”
Adding just a touch of color to these ultra-Orthodox women makes a world of difference.
“A light touch of color, a feeling that there is but there isn’t,” said Larry. For eye make-up, to avoid attracting too much attention, women have two different kinds of make-up, “one in light, inconspicuous colors for wearing outside, and one in more modern colors for her husband’s eyes only.”
While these women slip through the back door, Larry notes that in many instances it is the husbands who encourage their wives to take the trip to the cosmetic center.
“The husband pampers her in anticipation; he is waiting as if for his bride for the first time. It’s something very beautiful.”