All clothing, and much more so a peculiar uniform like that worn by the Haredim, has a straightjacket effect on its wearer, as it restricts and defines his consciousness and behavior. This includes the influence of clothing on body language and the very feel of the body.
Written By Prof. Gideon Aran
With different levels of awareness, Haredi educators understand that their supervision of yeshiva students’ clothing extends into regulation over their bodies. They explained to me: “When an adolescent wears a coat that identifies him as Haredi both to himself and to others he automatically understands that he can’t scream like a monkey and jump around like a goat”.
The items of Haredi apparel are familiar: a black coat and a black broad brimmed hat. With the inevitable addition of sidelocks and beard, we get the full impression of the Haredi.[i] These most notable Haredi indicators give off a certain halo effect: we tend to let our prejudices concerning a certain dominant feature project on the total set of people’s characteristics.
Therefore, our perception of the Haredi body is highly influenced by our a priori attitude towards its Haredi-ness, which is saliently signified by the Haredi’s clothing and hair. Were those same people to be attired differently – dressed in a soldier’s uniform with a gun slung over their shoulder, for instance – we would surely interpret their body differently. It might be possible to steer clear of this tendency to bias by undressing the Haredi.
Of course, in the Haredi world there is a range of hats, clothes, haircuts, beard styles and even sidelock curls. Each Haredi group has a singular fashion which allows it to be identified from afar according to the length of beard, broadness of the hat’s brim, trouser length, and so on. For a detailed description of external identifying markings of different types of Haredim.
Taken from “Denial Does Not Make The Haredi Body Go Away Ethnography of a Disappearing (?) Jewish Phenomenon”, By Gideon Aran.