The Biblical Reason Amish Women Don’t Shave


The Amish people have a rich history full of interesting customs and traditions. Because the Amish live in communities that tend to be isolated from the outside world, their beliefs and behaviors can be a source of mystery for non-Amish people. For example, one question people ask about them concerns their unique hygiene habits.

Amish women don’t shave their hair out of obedience to their interpretation and application of the New Testament passage, 1 Corinthians 11:5-6. In the passage, the Apostle Paul forbids women from cutting their hair, which the Amish apply to other aspects of hair grooming.

This article will explain in detail why Amish women do not shave their legs and armpits, the rules of hair grooming among the women, and other hygiene practices of the Amish people.

Amish
Do Amish women shave any part of their body? See below

Why don’t Amish women shave their legs and armpits?

Amish women don’t shave their legs and armpits out of obedience to their interpretation of 1 Corinthians 11:5-15, which considers shorn or shaved hair shameful. Amish women don’t shave their heads, legs, or armpits because the tradition forbids it as an application of the biblical text. [1]

Amish women wear clothing that typically ends at the calves with the legs and feet tucked into dark-colored socks. Because of this dressing custom, shaving legs that remain covered would also be a waste of time.

Amish women are, however, allowed to wear deodorants. The freedom to wear deodorants reduces the fear of body odor resulting from not having shaved armpits. Women who violate these rules run the risk of being reprimanded. Upon repeated counts of this misdemeanor, the authorities may subject women to stricter punishment or even ex-communication.

Amish farmer
What are the Amish rules of grooming? See below

Do Amish women have rules for grooming the hair on their head?

Amish women have rules governing hair grooming. The Ordinance or Ordnung, chronicled in the Swartzentruber Amish Ordinance Letter, explicitly states that women should not cut their hair and are to wear it up and keep it out of sight except in the confines of their homes after a long day’s work. [1]

Amish women consider their hair a sacred symbol of devotion to God, given to them as a glorious covering. Therefore, many Amish communities view women cutting their hair as shameful. Instead, the expectation is for them to arrange their hair in a bun and tuck it neatly under a bonnet.

This practice is an application of 1 Corinthians 11:5 and the Swartzentruber Amish Ordinance Letter. These writings contain the general codes of conduct for all Amish people, even though customs may vary slightly among distinct Amish communities and even among Amish churches within the same community.

1 Corinthians 11:5-6 read, “But every wife who prays or prophesies with her head uncovered dishonors her head, since it is the same as if her head were shaven. For if a wife will not cover her head, then she should cut her hair short. But since it is disgraceful for a wife to cut off her hair or shave her head, let her cover her head.” (ESV)

Amish bonnets

Different colors of bonnets used to cover the hair indicate the marital status and community origin of Amish women. The color is the only expression that an Amish woman can make in hair grooming so as not to go against their tenets of simplicity and modesty.

In situations where a woman struggles with heavy hair, to the point where it interferes with her duties, she is allowed to thin her hair using a thinning comb as that does not count as cutting her hair. [2]

Generally, Amish women do not use hair adornments, as that could be a pointer to vanity or a means of showing off status, both of which are strongly frowned upon.

Amish buggy
Do Amish women have good hygiene? See below

What other hygiene habits are typical for Amish women?

In mainstream media, there have been many cases of misrepresentation of the Amish people. Due to such portrayals, outsiders often misunderstand their culture and hygiene practices.

The Amish people, especially the women, are sticklers for good hygiene in an old-fashioned way. The hygiene of Amish women covers many habits, all of which emphasize cleanliness while promoting modesty.

Bathing Habits of Amish Women

While some modern Amish have indoor plumbing and even walk-in showers, the conservative Amish still use bathtubs and well-drawn water for cleansing themselves. [3]

Bathing is an important hygiene habit for Amish women. They bathe twice a week or more. Women commonly bathe more than men, who often wash once a week.

Amish fathers typically wash last with their own freshly drawn water while the mothers oversee the boiling and tub preparations. Siblings are likely to share bathing water, especially in large families.

Laundry Habits of Amish Women

Most Amish women wash clothes using old-fashioned wringer washers. In large families, where there is a lot of washing that needs to be done, boiling water is put in a large bowl, and the clothes are spun with homemade lye soap until they are clean.

Laundry day for many Amish families is Monday – or any other day apart from Sunday [4]. Sun-drying is most popular for laundry in Amish families.

Teeth-Brushing Habits of Amish Women

Dental hygiene is not a common tradition among the Amish. There have been accounts of Amish people leaving brushing as a weekly event. 

In the past, there was a wide separation between the Amish and non-Amish. As a result, Amish people were less exposed to processed sugars and the attendant dental complications. However, this is no longer the case in modern times. Many Amish women opt for dentures after extracting their teeth.

Nail-Clipping Habits of Amish Women

Amish women tend to keep short nails as it is not practical to keep long nails while handling farm work and household chores. Also, long nails require grooming which is, in essence, vanity and goes against the Amish tenet of plainness and modesty.

Household and Environmental Cleaning Habits of Amish Women

The rural lifestyle yields a lot of dirt, so Amish women lightly clean their houses daily. However, thorough cleaning is usually done weekly.

The Amish people popularly make their household cleaning agents from scratch. As a result, they have mastered many cleaning hacks and shortcuts, none of which involve modern technology.

Amish women, like other Amish people, use outhouses. The sewage is readily disposed of when due and is kept as clean as possible for the next person’s use.

Conclusion

Amish women hold cleanliness and proper hygiene in high regard, though they may differ in how they carry it out due to their interpretation of the Bible and their adherence to tradition.

References:
[1] Source
[2] Source
[3] Source
[4] Source

Daniel Isaiah Joseph

Daniel's seminary degree is in Exegetical Theology. He was a pastor for 10 years. As a professor, he has taught Bible and theology courses at two Christian universities. Please see the About page for details.

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