Why Orthodox Women Embrace Instagram
Orthodox women are disappearing. Over the years, Orthodox magazines and newspapers have placed a strict ban on any images of women.
And ironically, this erasure has emerged at a time when the community has increased access to a luxury lifestyle: Orthodox women, decked out in glamorous wigs and haute couture, will ultimately pick up glossy religious magazines in the grocery lines, ones that have zero images reflecting them.
The policy began as stringency in the Hasidic community, and, over the past 15 years it has become the mainstream in the non-Hasidic Orthodox publishing world as well. Stories related to women feature images of flowers, stainless steel kitchens, wedding canopies and more flowers. Obituaries of rabbis’ wives and renowned female educators show pictures of the woman’s husband alone. According to publishers, the policy is out of sensitivity to modesty and to market forces.
Orthodox women have been relatively sanguine about this recent erasure. But a growing number of them have found a way to surreptitiously flout it.
Welcome to the secret social media world of Orthodox Jewish women.
Many religious women have turned to Instagram, where a woman can see others who look like her. Open frum Instagram, and you’ll find another subculture, one that’s slowly pushing the boundaries.
For the local version of tabloid gossip — that is, the latest engagements and weddings — follow SimchaSpot and OnlySimchas. For a more haimish, or homey, taste, Yiddishe Simchas will show you mostly Hasidic wedding engagements.
Kosher food bloggers post recipes and menu ideas. Star cosmetic artist Gitty Berger offers tips for the perfect smokey eye; Shimi Adar offers entertainment for bat mitzvahs in her trademark baseball cap and knee-length skirt, while Nutrition by Tanya gives you tips on how to fit into your gown for your sister’s wedding.
Each week, new modest fashionistas post their outfits of the day. Wigs and long skirts, meet Chanel and avocado toast.
Instagram has emerged as a platform that is much more potent than the old-fashioned print publications of the community.
“We have a platform where we do share our faces, and where we can say whatever we want,” Sarah Lasry, a Lakewood, New Jersey-based lifestyle blogger with 14,000 followers, said in a recent Instagram video.
Those Instagrammers have attained celebrity status in the community, becoming aspirational figures for their followers — which increasingly include Orthodox men, too.
“Lots of young girls and women follow these influencers,” said Elisheva Perlman, founder of The Anelis Group, a boutique marketing company that