Tznius Rules!

Let’s play a game. You list all the tznius rules from high school or tznius kabbalos you were encouraged to take on, and we see how they compare.

Try not to mix up school dress code (eg: must wear school sweatshirt) with tznius rules (eg: must not wear a visible t-shirt under uniform shirt).

I’ll start you off with some examples I’ve been sent:

From Tamar:

  • If your hair was longer than your shoulders you were told to wear it up.
  • I was chastised once by my Hebrew teacher for having nails that were too long.
  • I was warned that floor-sweeping denim skirts are not tznius because they are fashionable among the goyim.

From Fraydy:

  •  I had the audacity to wear a black  [shell] under my school blouse… when the tznius police caught up with me she told me that my black undershirt was sticking up past my top button, and I had to pull it down so nobody should see that I’m wearing a black undershirt.

From Kaylie:

  • Not wearing shirts with words on them.
  • Not walking out of your bedroom untznius
  • Not wearing denim
  • Always wearing tights instead of socks
  • Not talking loudly in the street
  • Not wearing long earrings
  • Not wearing short sleeves with a long-sleeve shirt underneath
  • Not wearing red

From TW:

  • Letting the boy walk through the door ahead of you on a date so he doesn’t have the nisayon of looking at your tush!
  • Not eating in the street (I know it’s in the Gemara but the teacher connected it to tznius)

From Ahuva:

  • I had a teacher say that we should never wear high heels even under long skirts because men could find the sound of walking heels arousing. She over heard two Mmuslim women talking about how they don’t ever wear heels for that reason and she was saddened that those women had more “sensitivities” than her students do/did.

From Esther Fried:

  • Keeping shirts tucked in
  • Not wearing makeup until senior year shabbaton (at which point about five pounds of makeup per face was considered appropriate)
  • I had to explain “sensitivities” to my first grader who came home and told me that her Morah said wearing mismatched sock is not tznius.
Tznius Rules!

8 thoughts on “Tznius Rules!

  1. BYGRAD says:

    I’m pretty sure my school will walk away with first prize here. Proof: When you say tznius to any alumni, they will instinctively clap a hand to their ears.

    Tznius Rule 1: Everything in Rabbi Falk’s book is halacha. Everything. So there’s 613 new commandments right there.

    Here’s a sampling:

    Hoods are goyish because they’re too casual.

    Denim is goyish for same reason and faded blue which appears denim is assur as well.

    Nail polish is unforgivable. Woe to the girl caught wearing clear or the palest pink polish, even out of school hours.

    Anything in style at the moment is assur because ‘a shikur in Paris’ designed them. And because style is avoda zarah.(A season later, they’re perfectly permissible.)

    According to this logic, anyone who wore the same hairstyle throughout all four years of high school was highly praised. (“Such a girl is highly chashuv. She isn’t susceptible to the meshugasim of the street.”)

    Bobby socks are assur because people will think you’re not wearing tights.

    Sheer nude tights were assur, though all our teachers wore them come spring.

    Long skirts were not tznius, for some reason, according to our super-tznius principal. I have not the foggiest why, but we all wore long skirts anyways and rolled them up if we ever met our principal.

    Eye shadow caused the churban.

    Blouses were considered infinitely more tzniusdik than shells because they had collars.

    Every teacher had a different ‘maximum hair limit’ as to what the longest length of your hair could be to be tznius. (Ranging from shoulder length, to unlimited as long as you had one bobby pin in your hair.)

    Some really fanatic teachers (usually the imported Hungarians from Boro Park) told us that the streets belong to the men, it’s bedieved that we’re in the street to begin with (insert quote from Rambam about going out once a month), so once we’re invading the men’s property, we should be as demure and invisible as possible. Even stepping into the street if a bunch of rude men take up the whole sidewalk.

    And best was the underlying, overarching theme of tznius: Tznius was not about self respect or dignity. It was about not being nichshal the men. Because all us earnest Bais Yaakov girls were, apparently, were objects that needed to be covered up in every way possible so as not to cause Men to sin.


  2. As someone whose school had no uniform and put everything, even the tznius stuff, under “dress code violation” (which I liked because it took judgmentalism out of the picture and which my friend hated because someone could wear a too-short skirt and not get caught while at the same time someone was getting penalized for wearing sneakers), what’s the tznius violation involved in a shirt being visible? My school had that rule briefly simply because they thought it looked sloppy.


    1. Esther Bernstein says:

      An “undershirt” being visible, or even wearing a t-shirt under the Oxfod blouse, was considered untzniusdig in my school partly because it’s a style worn by “bums” and goyim, and partly because showing any kind of undergarments apparently makes everyone (read: men) think of your body. You’re right that mostly it’s because it looks sloppy. But two things: 1) sloppy is an attitude, and it’s a slippery slope from relaxing sloppiness and “shlumpy” dress to actually being a bum; and 2) why do you need to make such a distinction between tznius and “simply sloppy”? What are you trying to get out of? Why do you need excuses? You obviously don’t really care about tznius if you’re willing to compromise on that. (Just to be clear, I’m being completely sarcastic here and fully disagree with all of this rationale, but this is the kind of attitude that made the school put “visible undershirt” as part of tznius and not dress code rules.)


  3. R says:

    This is sad. I keep tznius for my own self respect and dignity. I want people to see me for who I am and not what my body looks like. I appreciate the rules of tznius. I don’t care what rules there were in high school because I know now that I have found a balance of style and tznius and that is all that matters.


  4. Shoshana says:

    We had several winners at my school as well, which were of course the actual 10 commandments.
    Rule one: if your nails are painted in any way you will burn, along with everyone who sees it. If we were caught in school with even a clear coat we were told to wear gloves on the way to remove it, so no one else had to see it.
    Rule two: the beach is a makom pritzus, therefore we can’t go. However, when the Tznius teacher finishes her curriculum and doesn’t know what to do with her class, it’s perfectly fine for her to take us to the beach and sit among hundreds of naked people, because “she’s protecting us.”
    Rule three: we have to wear heavy long skirts so they don’t move at all. When we asked about this rule, we were told that men will be attracted to swaying fabric and maybe be tempted to look at our legs.
    Rule four: it’s completely unacceptable to look at a man. A question on one of my tznius tests (yes we had those, twice a month) read “if you’re lost in an unknown town and the only person you see is male, is it permissible to ask him for directions?” The answer was no.
    Rule five: bathing suits are unacceptable. You don’t need to swim. Shvim kliets are unacceptable too, because that means you’re wearing a bathing suit underneath. We were told to exercise another way, or just get fat, that way men will be less attracted to us.
    Rule six: listening to music that isn’t Jewish ruins your soul. You won’t get anything good in life, because HaShem knows you did it and doesn’t want you to succeed because of it.
    Rule seven: if you see someone who isn’t tznius, you must guard your eyes. If you look at them for too long, you might be tempted to copy them.
    Rule eight: once you turn 3, you must be completely tznius. Men will be attached to women of all ages, and we can’t risk them looking at us.
    Rule nine: covering your legs is the first mitzvah in the Torah. Somehow, they decided that Chava was created with a skirt on, so that Adam wouldn’t see her legs.
    Rule ten: your skirt must be mid-calf. Then you wear black tights or bulletproof seam stockings, and you’re covered. if your skirt is longer, men have more to imagine and they’ll start thinking of our legs since they’re too covered.
    Basically, men were made with ridiculous desires for women, and our job is to dress as rocks and pretend we have no limbs. If my tznius classes taught me anything, it’s that I have no worth because all my life should be spent on hiding from men. Definitely helped my self esteem.


    1. BYGRAD says:

      Omg, Shoshana, your school was even more ridiculous than mine!

      Re the seams you mentioned, can you please tell me why some chasidic women wear the stockings that prostitutes wear? I’d think hooker fashion would be considered untznius, not thought of as more tznius…

      I’ve never quite wrapped my head around that one. Care to explain?


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