When I Stood on the Scale the Day After Simchat Torah

When I Stood on the Scale the Day After Simchat Torah

The day after Simchat Torah, I got on the scale to check out how bad my situation was. I’d gained 1.5 kilos, that’s 3.3 pounds, since Rosh HaShana.
Which reminded me just how easy it is to gain weight, and just how tough it is to lose it again.
This morning, as I exited Yoni’s gan, a mother I haven’t seen in a few weeks said, “You look really good!”
To which I responded, “Really? I actually gained weight over the chagim…”
On the way home, as I pondered this exchange, my mind wandered back to an article I read a few weeks ago. By Rabbanit Naomi Shapira in Pnima Magazine.
Rabbanit Shapira was writing in response to Binyan Shalem’s controversial decision to ban photos of female models in the advertisements at the popular clothing sale of their gigantic annual conference this past summer. What was especially curious about this decision was that the Binyan Shalem sale is attended only by women. If the ban on photos of women wasn’t motivated by modesty, then what was it motivated by?
Rabbanit Shapira (whose class at Binyan Shalem this past summer on “Marriage and Motherhood in Mid-Life,” was, by the way, my absolute favorite) wrote:
“There were women who viewed Binyan Shalem’s request as disrespectful and degrading to women. And there were those who viewed their request as respectful to women, a refusal to objectify women’s bodies.
“In my eyes, this was a brave decision which displays respect for women, and opens a space for all kinds of a woman’s beauty, instead of limiting beauty to [models and those who could pass for models], to a physical form that is neither common, nor respectful. This was an attempt to present women honestly, as we truly are: undaunted, always changing. A woman over the course of her lifetime:
“Gets fatter
“Gets thinner
“Gets back into shape
“Doesn’t get back into shape
“A woman is enriched through all of her forms, shapes, and sizes. There is nothing more respectable, more beautiful than that.”


  1. 1.5kg is really normal I think after all those delicious meals (and what a shame not to enjoy them). That’s what I gained too turns out. And I really LOVE the request by Binyan Shalem personally 🙂

  2. The essence of tznius is being an inner person. There is no contradiction between banning models for modesty reasons or for respecting womens’ changing bodies. Both lead a woman to focus on the soul inside of her-model and non model alike.

  3. How about depicting women of all shapes and sizes in a tzniusdik fashion? This would serve as role models to our daughters (and sons too!) of what beautiful and refined women look like. Avoiding pictures of women altogether in my mind sends the message that’s it’s better not to be seen at all (particularly if you aren’t ‘beautiful’ in the Westernized sense of the word)

    • somebody suggested the same thing on facebook. It’s an interesting idea. But after I thought about it practically, let’s say that there were 200 stands selling women’s clothing, jewelry and head-coverings at this sale. The stands that would agree to put up ads with models that are overweight or have a cleft lip or aren’t pretty in the standard model-way would be putting them themselves at a big disadvantage. Would you want to buy a dress at a store whose model looks pretty in their merchandise, or the one that looks obese in it?

  4. YES!!!!!!!!! I especially noticed how in the “frum” magazines suddenly all these heavily make-up faces of children, doing all this pouting, and in ridiculous adult like poses have appeared. WHy why why are we starting so young to objectively and put so so much focus on the externals? I Strongly agree with their brave decision. ANd to those that say well show all different body types you can google that the “body positive” model industry is just as full of hypocrisy and they often are padded and have a “certain specific” bigger body type. So eliminating it is brave and hopefully helpful to our generation of girls and boys that are growing up with so so much externals ( social media and posing…)

    • I’ve noticed that too. Actually made me not buy those magazines anymore. I don’t want my family exposed to that personally although then again the ads on the busses etc are even worse…

  5. and what’s the deal with male models who model religious men’s clothes and hats and ties (and banks) etc.?

    • Good point! though I think it tends to be that women are more judged for their appearance than men. I once met a married couple, both were obese. Both of them were ivy-league graduates, and highly-successful lawyers. Both brilliant, wealthy, highly-torah educated. But I felt that people looked down on the woman, felt somewhat repulsed by her. But the man was “forgiven” for his obesity because of his brilliance, wealth etc.

  6. Thank you for sharing this wise and true wisdom!

  7. It’s funny how public opinion weighs so heavily upon people, yet lightly changes direction as if it were a feather in the wind. When my great-grandfather met his son’s kallah for the first time, he was taken aback by how thin she was. To Eastern European eyes in 1931, thin meant poor or sickly, or both. Hefty meant wealthy and/or healthy. Skinny was out, fat was in!
    My great-grandfather had a sharp wit; he quipped: ich zeh di klaidel nur vu iz di maidel? (I see the dress but where is the girl?)

  8. I’m not entirely sure how banning any pictures of women is respectful. “Banning” is disrespectful. If it were meant to give respect to women, then why didn’t they ban men’s photos and respect them too?
    Obliterating female images doesn’t leave space to present a woman honestly; clearly, it is an attempt to hide us!
    The sale has vendors selling all kinds of things for our body, and I think it is only natural to have photos of “bodies” displaying their wares.
    After all, men’s bodies change too… this bit of honesty isn’t reserved for women.

    • I totally agree with you. Banning is not the solution! How about approaching modest clothing companies and asking them to represent all body types in their promotions? How about allowing brochures but not billboards or posters? How about not doing anything at all and letting people deal with their own discomfort in their own way, and not at the expense of others who don’t have any problem with it? I personally like to see photos of the product, whatever it is, in use: especially clothing. I’m not offended at all by modest clothing being modelled. Why should immodesty have all the publicity? Why can’t our daughters see that being modest is something to be proud of, can be beautiful, is worth advertising? Why should our daughters only be exposed to immodesty? I just don’t get it.

  9. I’ve also notice that about children modeling. It disgusts me.

    This year, as soon as we bought the magazine, I cut out the first pages which are ALL advertisements. There were about 20 pages of advertisements.
    It doesn’t help the covers, or the advertiesements within the articles. But it helps.

    • It’s not so much that suddenly there are so many children modelling, it’s the complete lack of adult women models (even not so many male models) that makes the little made-up girls so strikingly out of place. I find it quite insidious.

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