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Great Expectations: The role of the wig stylist (sheitel macher) in orthodox Jewish salons

Tarlo, Emma. 2018. Great Expectations: The role of the wig stylist (sheitel macher) in orthodox Jewish salons. Fashion Theory: Journal of Dress, Body and Culture, Special issue on Hair, 22(6), pp. 569-591. ISSN 1362-704X [Article]

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Abstract or Description

Wigs are curious liminal objects that hover somewhere between the categories of prosthesis and clothing and offer a variety of possibilities from transformation to hair substitution, covering and disguise. In this article I focus on the particular demands and expectations placed upon the sheitel (Yiddish term for wig) worn by increasing numbers of married Jewish women who identify as frum (Torah-observant). Based on research in Jewish wig salons in Britain and the United States and on Jewish online forums, internet discussions and blogs with a wider geographic reach, this article sets out to show the complex web of material, social, emotional, aesthetic and moral concerns that cluster around the sheitel and to highlight the role of the sheitel macher (wig stylist) in managing these anxieties and expectations. If all wigs are fraught with expectations in terms of their capacity to enable successful social performances, sheitels, it is argued, carry a particularly high burden of expectations owing to their contested and multivalent role as material embodiments of religious commitment, social status and fashion competence and owing to the ambivalent feelings many Jewish women have towards their wigs.

Item Type:

Article

Identification Number (DOI):

https://doi.org/10.1080/1362704X.2018.1533334

Keywords:

wig, sheitel, Jewish, hair, salon, modesty, religion, fashion

Departments, Centres and Research Units:

Anthropology

Dates:

DateEvent
16 May 2018Accepted
1 November 2018Published

Item ID:

23331

Date Deposited:

17 May 2018 11:21

Last Modified:

08 Mar 2019 18:31

Peer Reviewed:

Yes, this version has been peer-reviewed.

URI:

http://research.gold.ac.uk/id/eprint/23331

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