Curl Stigma and Being Jewish

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A little background on me - I'm Puerto Rican on my Dad's side (Spanish, Italian, and possibly Taino ancestry) and Euro mix on my Mom's side(English, Scottish, possibly Iroquois thrown in there). My Mom's fair-skinned with very dark, very straight hair, Dad's brown with very curly hair. The combo ended up with me and my brother having fair skin with olive undertones, dark hair and features, and curly hair. And I, um... for lack of a better term, am curvy, especially in the butt!

Long story short, both my brother and I get asked if we're Jewish. Do people really not consider it rude to just bust out with "Are you Jewish?" What would it matter if I was? Would you treat me differently? I actually was walking on the streets one day with my friends when a guy hanging out on the corner with his friends asked flat-out if I was Jewish. I was floored. My brother's been asked if he was Jewish, Turkish, and Italian. I also sometimes get Greek or Italian. But no one has guessed Hispanic! Oddly enough, my Dad has been mistaken as Arabic on more than one occasion.

I have to admit I think making assumptions like that is rude, but it's prompted me to want to explore my roots a bit more. I do know my maiden name (my Dad's Spanish name) is the name of a town in Spain, and historians say in some cases people took the name of a town as their surnames during the Inquisition because they wanted to hide their Jewish or Gypsy roots. So who knows? Maybe I do have Jewish heritage!

Still, it would be good for some people to remember that there are plenty of blonde-haired, blue-eyed, thin Jewish people out there.
Also, I have seen black men and women with natural red hair.
Yeah, actually, my stepmom is Jamaican, and her older brother's hair goes really really RED when he gets alot of sun. Apparently that has some stigma attached to it, because it was reminicent of lower class workers, who would end up with bleached red hair from working in the sun (sort of the way tans were viewed in Europe at the turn of the century) and when he was in his teens he dyed it black. According to my stepmom, it looked ridiculous - completely unnatural.
"A face without freckles is like a night without stars"

~Jenny
Luthien wrote: "Do people really not consider it rude to just bust out with 'Are you Jewish?'"

I can top that... People often don't even hazard a guess when it comes to my heritage. I've been randomly asked, "So, what are you?!" sooo many times! Just totally out of the blue. I usually don't even realize at first that I'm being asked about my heritage. A few times it was definitely meant derisively, but I guess people can just be clueless and nosy. I don't even look very "mixed" or anything (in my opinion). I mean, I don't have East Asian features with naturally red hair, like one girl I knew. As I've noted before on this thread, I come from several Jewish ethnicities. The fact that there *are* quite a few Jewish ethnicities makes the whole "You look Jewish" thing even more ridiculous. Anyway, at least we more-enlightened people are given ample opportunity to feel righteous indignation...right?
A Jewish woman with red hair told me that red naturally occurs in several ethic groups...Celtic (Irish/Scots), Jewish, Spanish -- which I didn't know -- and also Lithuanian. She said it was rare among other groups, though of course, all the ethnicities have mixed a lot so that's not as true as it was.
Originally Posted by SuZen
I think the red hair in Spain is also due to the Celtic origins; the Celts were spread across the northermost parts of most European countries. Perhaps this is true of Lithuania, too.

Also, on the Jamaican front, there are so many people with red hair from Jamaica. Due to colonialism, a lot of people have Celtic ancestry, and have ended up with red hair.

Finally, the girl with "East Asian features" and red hair; that's not that rare either. Plenty of people of Russian ancestry, and also of some former USSR countries, Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan come to mind, have the features I imagine you are describing coupled with red hair.

Luthien, as you're PR, it's likely you have some African ancestry contributing to your curliness, among your other roots.
I've even had people ask me on the street and the subway if I was Jewish! Seems like a really random thing to ask a complete stranger.

Especially considering I have a crucifix hanging from my neck! [/quote]
Not to get too fixated on race, but...I'm pretty sure that the red hair of the girl I mentioned came from her red-headed (Irish) father. She just came to mind because she was one of the more out-going children in a youth program I worked at a while ago.
I'm Jewish and pretty much everyone in my family has curly or wavy hair. I find there's a definite geographic divide in terms of who wears their hair curly, and who keeps it straight. My mom, who moved to Toronto, and those of her siblings and cousins who also moved away from Montreal wear their hair naturally curly. Those who stayed in Jewish Montreal have teased, sprayed helmet hair to this day. It's kind of a time warp hairstyle and I find that it's ubiquitous in Cote St-Luc, the Jewish Montreal suburb my mom comes from. The younger Cote St-Luc generation seems to be changing that, though. Thank god.
I'm 100% Russian/Polish Jew, and I fit the stereotype perfectly. I've got dark eyes, dark brown curly hair, a noticeable nose, a small but curvy body...and a rather sizeable behind. (As my best friend likes to say, "Well, you've certainly got badonka in your donk.")

Everyone knows I'm Jewish the second they look at me. I live in a town where 1/3 of the students in my high school are Jewish, so there isn't really any anti-semitism going on. It doesn't bother me at all. I even draw attention to the fact that I've got a "Jew nose," sometimes, because it's funny. All of my friends love my curly hair, but I straighten it sometimes for a change and it's not really a big deal. Occasionally someone who doesn't know me well will do a double-take the first time they see it straightened, but it's been happening for years so I'm used to it.

It's funny, on both sides of my family there are very few curlies. I'd say it's about 10% curly to 90% straightened. Of course, I do have some aunts who tan so much that they almost look African-American. (I wish they'd stop doing that, by the way, they're going to get skin cancer.) Those three aunts have also all had nose jobs. I personally would never do something as drastic as surgery.

I'm not religious. I go to a few holidays to be with my family, but I don't really follow the religion. I am proud of my heritage, though, if that makes sense. I've never felt ashamed of being Jewish, and if anyone ever says anything derogatory to me I'll just (pardon my French) ***** them out. That's because sometimes I have a big mouth. Which I guess goes to show just how Jewish I really am, eh?

Oh, and you know that SNL skit where Jake Gyllenhaal is guest starring and he's getting interviewed by two women from New York? My entire extended family (from Boston and New York) talks like that. It's hysterical.
3a/3b mix of ringlets and spiral curls
BWC Rosemary Mint Tea Tree Conditioner,
Aubrey Organics Honeysuckle Rose Conditioner,
***Aloe Vera Gel***
Simplicity is best, at least for my hair. I co-wash every two days or so with the BWC and use the AOHR as a rinse-out when I need moisture. On other days, I just water wash, and I use AV gel every day to style. I air-dry and don't brush or comb my hair.

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I'm Jewish but I'm Asian. I guess I always just thought of it as a religion. I do have curly hair tho.
I'm Jewish but I'm Asian. I guess I always just thought of it as a religion. .
Originally Posted by keikok
I think when people talk about looking Jewish, they are referring to the typical look of a Jewish person of Eastern European ancestry, which I agree does not include all Jews.

I am Jewish (my grandparents are Polish) and I am always told that I don't look Jewish. I get mistaken for Hispanic, Italian, Greek, Turkish, etc.
I'm an Orthodox Jew, and as a married woman, I keep my hair covered. While I have fun with my head coverings, I have a permanent case of hat hair, so I try to let my curls stay free at home (which I'm allowed to do). I wear berets, hats, and scarves, but I don't wear a wig. Here's one reason for that...

I've tried on wigs for fun. Four of them were "traditional" wigs from a professional Jewish wigmaker. All were straight. While one did look pretty on me, they all looked ridiculous because I didn't recognize my own face with the wig on. Then, I went to a beauty supply store and tried on two curly wigs. They were totally synthetic and looked fake, but they looked so much better on me than the more natural wigs.

I was told that while Jewish wigmakers do sometimes make curly wigs, they rarely look natural. Since most of the women who wear wigs want straight hair, it doesn't matter.

I just try to take good care of my curls and I'm proud of them, even if I have to cover them most of the time. And it's not a Jewish thing. Lots of Jews have naturally straight hair, and they're the ones who wish for curls.
"There is such a thing as natural beauty, but every woman needs a little help to bring it out."
I'm an Orthodox Jew, and as a married woman, I keep my hair covered. While I have fun with my head coverings, I have a permanent case of hat hair, so I try to let my curls stay free at home (which I'm allowed to do). I wear berets, hats, and scarves, but I don't wear a wig. Here's one reason for that...

I've tried on wigs for fun. Four of them were "traditional" wigs from a professional Jewish wigmaker. All were straight. While one did look pretty on me, they all looked ridiculous because I didn't recognize my own face with the wig on. Then, I went to a beauty supply store and tried on two curly wigs. They were totally synthetic and looked fake, but they looked so much better on me than the more natural wigs.

I was told that while Jewish wigmakers do sometimes make curly wigs, they rarely look natural. Since most of the women who wear wigs want straight hair, it doesn't matter.

I just try to take good care of my curls and I'm proud of them, even if I have to cover them most of the time. And it's not a Jewish thing. Lots of Jews have naturally straight hair, and they're the ones who wish for curls.
Originally Posted by Salsalit
I've lived in an area with a large Orthodox Jewish population for many years. I never thought about it before, and I find that the wigs that Orthodox women wear do tend to be short and straight. I assumed it is because they are supposed to dress modestly outside, and long hair or curly hair gives more of a carefree, relaxed, sexy image.
Actually, most of the wigs I've seen are either shoulder length or pixie short, and always straight. I've seen a couple of women wearing wavy falls, but that's pretty unusual, and it's the curliest I've ever seen.

There are a few rabbis (ultra-Orthodox) who feel that long hair isn't properly modest, but most rabbis don't have a problem with long hair or curly hair. I think a lot of it has to do with ease (shoulder length is sophisticated but easy) and conformity.
"There is such a thing as natural beauty, but every woman needs a little help to bring it out."
I am Jewish and very much fit the stereotype: beige-olive skin (especially in the summer), dark curls, biggish nose, 5'3 and very curvy. But I enjoy that i look like my stereotype. To me, Judaism is as much a race and culture as it is a religion; so I like it when people know who i am simply by looking at me, just as any other race could.
However, Im mistaken for Hispanic/Latina and Italian constantly.

2c/3a
Growing out hair to a little above bsl
pw: ringlets
I'm 100% Russian/Polish Jew, and I fit the stereotype perfectly. I've got dark eyes, dark brown curly hair, a noticeable nose, a small but curvy body...and a rather sizeable behind. (As my best friend likes to say, "Well, you've certainly got badonka in your donk.")

Everyone knows I'm Jewish the second they look at me. I live in a town where 1/3 of the students in my high school are Jewish, so there isn't really any anti-semitism going on. It doesn't bother me at all. I even draw attention to the fact that I've got a "Jew nose," sometimes, because it's funny. All of my friends love my curly hair, but I straighten it sometimes for a change and it's not really a big deal. Occasionally someone who doesn't know me well will do a double-take the first time they see it straightened, but it's been happening for years so I'm used to it.

It's funny, on both sides of my family there are very few curlies. I'd say it's about 10% curly to 90% straightened. Of course, I do have some aunts who tan so much that they almost look African-American. (I wish they'd stop doing that, by the way, they're going to get skin cancer.) Those three aunts have also all had nose jobs. I personally would never do something as drastic as surgery.

I'm not religious. I go to a few holidays to be with my family, but I don't really follow the religion. I am proud of my heritage, though, if that makes sense. I've never felt ashamed of being Jewish, and if anyone ever says anything derogatory to me I'll just (pardon my French) &%$@#! them out. That's because sometimes I have a big mouth. Which I guess goes to show just how Jewish I really am, eh?

Oh, and you know that SNL skit where Jake Gyllenhaal is guest starring and he's getting interviewed by two women from New York? My entire extended family (from Boston and New York) talks like that. It's hysterical.
Originally Posted by CurlyCasey
omg ditto. haha.
and I love Jake Gyllenhaal and actually saw that and found it hilarious!

2c/3a
Growing out hair to a little above bsl
pw: ringlets
Yeah, I like him, too.

I am Jewish and very much fit the stereotype: beige-olive skin (especially in the summer), dark curls, biggish nose, 5'3 and very curvy. But I enjoy that i look like my stereotype. To me, Judaism is as much a race and culture as it is a religion; so I like it when people know who i am simply by looking at me, just as any other race could.
However, Im mistaken for Hispanic/Latina and Italian constantly.
Originally Posted by unique1193
You soooo don't have a big nose!
3a/3b mix of ringlets and spiral curls
BWC Rosemary Mint Tea Tree Conditioner,
Aubrey Organics Honeysuckle Rose Conditioner,
***Aloe Vera Gel***
Simplicity is best, at least for my hair. I co-wash every two days or so with the BWC and use the AOHR as a rinse-out when I need moisture. On other days, I just water wash, and I use AV gel every day to style. I air-dry and don't brush or comb my hair.

Long story short, both my brother and I get asked if we're Jewish. Do people really not consider it rude to just bust out with "Are you Jewish?"
Originally Posted by Luthien
Sometimes a Jewish person will ask you if you are Jewish because

1) They are trying to encourage other Jews to follow the traditions of Judaism. In Judaism you are not allowed to try to encourage people who aren't Jewish to follow Jewish practices. So, for example, they will ask you if you are Jewish, and if you say no, they will say "thank you" and walk away. If you say yes, that you are Jewish, they will then talk to you about lighting candles on Sabbath or something.

2) They want to ask you to do something that a Jew isn't allowed to do, but a non-Jew is. For example, on the Sabbath, a Jew isn't allowed to tun on anything electrical, so they might ask a non-Jew to come into the synagogue to turn on the lights and air conditioning.
Long story short, both my brother and I get asked if we're Jewish. Do people really not consider it rude to just bust out with "Are you Jewish?"
Originally Posted by Luthien
Sometimes a Jewish person will ask you if you are Jewish because

1) They are trying to encourage other Jews to follow the traditions of Judaism. In Judaism you are not allowed to try to encourage people who aren't Jewish to follow Jewish practices. So, for example, they will ask you if you are Jewish, and if you say no, they will say "thank you" and walk away. If you say yes, that you are Jewish, they will then talk to you about lighting candles on Sabbath or something.

2) They want to ask you to do something that a Jew isn't allowed to do, but a non-Jew is. For example, on the Sabbath, a Jew isn't allowed to tun on anything electrical, so they might ask a non-Jew to come into the synagogue to turn on the lights and air conditioning.
Originally Posted by Malory
But that's only for Orthodox Jews, and people don't just assume anybody's Orthodox, especially when they're wearing their hair out! Actually, I've never seen or heard of either of those motives for the question, if a Jewish person asks somebody if he/she's Jewish, it's most likely to relate, maybe commiserate, and share roots. It is a nice feeling. When a non-Jew asks, it's usually an ID thing - like what are you, Italian? No? Russian? etc.
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Long story short, both my brother and I get asked if we're Jewish. Do But that's only for Orthodox Jews, and people don't just assume anybody's Orthodox, especially when they're wearing their hair out! Actually, I've never seen or heard of either of those motives for the question, if a Jewish person asks somebody if he/she's Jewish, it's most likely to relate, maybe commiserate, and share roots. It is a nice feeling. When a non-Jew asks, it's usually an ID thing - like what are you, Italian? No? Russian? etc.
Originally Posted by Luthien
You're right, that's only for Orthodox. I lived in an Orthodox area for many years, and heard the question asked in those ways all the time. For example, by Lubavitcher Chasidim who were obviously trying to "educate" about the faith.

I was just trying to explain these reasons to some of the non-Jewish people on the board who might not be aware of them.
Long story short, both my brother and I get asked if we're Jewish. Do But that's only for Orthodox Jews, and people don't just assume anybody's Orthodox, especially when they're wearing their hair out! Actually, I've never seen or heard of either of those motives for the question, if a Jewish person asks somebody if he/she's Jewish, it's most likely to relate, maybe commiserate, and share roots. It is a nice feeling. When a non-Jew asks, it's usually an ID thing - like what are you, Italian? No? Russian? etc.
Originally Posted by Luthien
You're right, that's only for Orthodox. I lived in an Orthodox area for many years, and heard the question asked in those ways all the time. For example, by Lubavitcher Chasidim who were obviously trying to "educate" about the faith.

I was just trying to explain these reasons to some of the non-Jewish people on the board who might not be aware of them.
Originally Posted by Malory
Oh, I get it! Sorry - I just got confused. Happens a lot to me.
OMG, LOOK!!

...It's a siggie.

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