Thursday, May 17, 2007

Why I will try to never live in Brooklyn

Today I went to Brooklyn to do some clothes shopping for my summer internship. (I got two great skirts and a bunch of shells, plus a Ralph Lauren blouse on sale, thanks for asking.) Now, I went to high school in Brooklyn, but having been relatively removed from that society except for weddings here and there, I now realize more than ever that I want to stay at a distance.

First of all, if anyone has wondered why teenagers from Brooklyn are so JAPpy, it's because their mothers are. Of course, there are women in Brooklyn who dress b'tznius, and are refined and modest people. But there are so many others who are really pushing the limit on what is appropriate: long, expensive-looking shaitels, lots of makeup, tight tops, tight skirts. The women who dress like that are in their late-20s to about mid-40s, but they dress like they're fifteen. WHY does anyone think that this is okay? It made me uncomfortable to look at them, and I'm a girl! How much more so the men! And do their husbands realize that these women look slutty? Do they care?

I really take an issue with the shaitels. I know that it's a very difficult thing for some women to cover their hair all the time, and that wearing a shaitel makes some people feel prettier. But if you're in your mid-thirties (or any age for that matter!), your shaitel should not hit the middle of your back! It is SO untznius! I don't even like that sort of look on unmarried people, with a few certain exceptions. And the makeup - it must take at least a gallon of Bobbi Brown's makeup remover to get it all off at night.

The clothing, though, really bothers me. Even the women (and men - yuck) who run the Brooklyn clothing stores urge women to buy clothing that is too tight, or too short, or too revealing. And a lot of women don't seem to have an issue with that, since they buy up the stores' clothing supplies. And don't get me started about the prices. When I started out shopping today, I winced if a skirt cost more than $60. But by the end of the day I had relaxed my anxiety and even bought two skirts that cost significantly more (in my defense, I was looking for very specific styles and tried on at least 14 skirts before finding the ones that I bought. And I had a lot of shopper's guilt afterward). WHAT IS WITH THESE PRICES?? It's as though the storeowners are charging you commission because THEY took the time to find suppliers who would sell (moderately) tzniusdik clothing, and so saving you the trouble of having to go to many stores to find what you can buy at one hugely expensive Brooklyn clothier.

It's mamash stealing.


I just don't want to live in a place where women are content to dress inappropriately (and let their daughters do the same) and where shopkeepers exploit their customers (and harangue them while they're browsing - some of the sales help are really incredibly pushy).

And that is why I will try to stay far, far away from Brooklyn as a place of residence.


Scraps said...

And that, ladies and gents, is why I would never shop in Brooklyn unless I absolutely have to. :) I hate the pushy salespeople who tell you everything looks wonderful on you (even when it's terribly unflattering), I hate the prices, I hate having to look for tzanua clothing in what's supposed to be a "frum" store.

Interestingly enough, I had my own Brooklyn shopping experience yesterday (dropped in to buy a baby present for a friend as I was walking from the train to her apartment). I went into a store and was looking for the baby section, but I couldn't seem to find it. I tried asking two frum women waiting in line where to find baby clothes, but they completely ignored I asked the black Muslim woman behind them, and she very pleasantly and politely pointed me upstairs. How sad, right?

Ezzie said...

Amen. :)

Erachet said...

I totally know what you mean. I've been shopping in Brooklyn occasionally and I don't love it. I only go with my mom when we've already exhausted the mall and Central Avenue. But the prices in Brooklyn are insane, the shops are always crowded with people being really pushy, and, like Scraps said, the salespeople are only interested in making sales, not for making their customers happy. Everything looks gorgeous, although, as they say in that 'between you and me' voice, the more expensive thing did really look better. Yep.


jackie said...

Growing up in my small out-of-town community, my only exposure to East Coast Orthodoxy as a kid featured people who internalized-- and even more than that externalized--important Torah values. When I eventually came back East, it was a rude shock to see that there are a lot of communities that unfortunately did not live up to my impressions.

Maybe the Brooklyn mentality wouldn't seem so bad if it weren't also associated with a more "right-wing" side of the Orthodoxy spectrum.