“You are proof enough of God”: A Formerly Hasidic Woman Writes to Her Covered Self


I was recently on a New York street and of course noted the scattering of covered woman among the passing thousands, in scarf, veil, hijab, bonnet, wig. One was Hasidic, in long sleeves and closed neckline and stockings in July, with a little hat on top of her wig. I was in jeans and a black T-shirt, my graying hair windblown.

Now those women discomfit me in the same way I’m sure they can discomfit others. They represent denial of battles hard fought — for birth control, abortion, equality in any public forum, to dress how we want without being objectified, or just to be heard. […] But covered women are my madeleine. I see one and my past comes back. Each can only use the language she’s received. Each is a real person with hopes and losses — even if she is also a reminder of what we can lose.

Which is why I look her in the eye, direct and real, and smile a smile as genuine and warm as I can muster. I say “Hello.”

I wish I could speak to every one of these women. I would say, “You are proof enough of God.” I would say, “You do have a voice. You can write. You can vote. You can whisper to your children.” I would say, “Look at yourself uncovered in the mirror and don’t forget what you look like.”

“I see you. What do you wish you could do? What, or who, would you love?”

This essay by Leah Lax at Dame Magazine, about respect and power and domestic space and coming out and orthodox religion, is very, very good. [Dame Magazine]