Carmen is a true artist – and her talent for pairing gorgeous colours with the perfect accessories is nothing short of inspirational! She and I have known each other on facebook for a while… yes, she is the one that inspired the pearls post recently! I continuously wowed by her creativity… and her gentle and loving comments always let me know about the depth within her. In the following photos make sure you click on them each individually to appreciate how she puts things together – it’s incredible! I am so proud to introduce her to you as Wrapunzel’s Lady Wrap Star!
By Carmen Mendez, edited by Nadia Kijanka
Helloooo Wrapunzel Ladies,
Let me start by saying that for me, the decision to cover my hair came suddenly and with a conviction that lasted longer than I expected. It started in November of 2013 when my husband showed me a YouTube tutorial and since then I’ve been covering every single day. The journey I’ve made from then until now was nothing immediate or easy. Though I must admit that while I always had a hidden passion for covering, I had no one to personally teach me how to do it, so the few times I did cover were not the best experiences for me.
In the YouTube video, a beautiful young woman was tutoring on how to wrap a scarf. This young woman was so humble and delicate that I was instantly captivated by her beautiful smile. The first video of hers I saw was set to Classical music, one in which she said nothing, but did a step by step demonstration. I was so amazed at how simple she made it look that I ran to my room looked for the few scarves I had collected in a box and started playing with them. I must admit that the first wrap I ever did popped right off! Like a typical beginner, I worried about my wrap staying in place, so I tied it really tight. It kept getting loose and moved around until it finally fell off.
I had no clue that essentials like volumizers and velvet headbands existed until this beautiful girl spoke in another video about tips and tricks. Later on, I find out her name, Andrea, and she has a blog called Wrapunzel. I literally spent two whole days just watching video tutorials on wraps and looking at pictures on her site. Based on her recommendations, I went onto the Judith de Paris website and purchased my first volumizer and velvet headband… I was starting to make a decision that would affect my everyday life from that point on, and I felt like the happiest woman alive!
While waiting for my volumizer and velvet headband, I decided to follow one of the recommendations on a Wrapunzel tutorial—I got one of my husband’s sock, rolled it, and placed it on my bun to create more volume. Then, I selected a really thin and comfy scarf and wrapped it on my head as a base, stuffing the ends inside the back for a little extra bulk. I then proceeded to place another scarf on top of the “base,” accessorized it, and walla…my first real wrap!
I went to work that day, and that’s when it all began. The first few days were pretty quiet and went by with very few comments, if any. Then, as weeks started to go by, eyebrows were raised and questions began to flow. Being the only person that covers in my place of work, some of my co-workers began to inquire why I was doing it everyday. Co-workers in my immediate circle know why I cover since most of them are Jewish, but others from different departments are still probably asking themselves the question if they’re too shy to just ask me directly.
Sometimes, others can really stumble on their words when they address the subject of my covering, but I have learned that being different can be an empowering side effect of following your heart. Before I covered, I felt bland and mediocre. I felt like I could have blended into the walls when in a crowd. There was nothing on the outside of me that reflected the more colorful, vibrant personality inside that Hashem created me to be. Since I started covering, everything about me has changed. Even my wardrobe has changed. Once that beautiful crown goes on my head, everything takes on a different roll than it did before; I’m different, transformed. I understand that you can’t show your entire self in every venue of your life. At the same time, spending hours of your life in an outfit that doesn’t express the person you really are feels terrible. I can’t even explain this transformation, but after it happens I feel beautiful and free. I am my own person, and I absolutely love the woman I’ve discovered I am through wrapping.
When I leave work at the end of the day, I come home to my beloved husband whom I met in the beautiful island of Puerto Rico where I was born. I have also lived in New Jersey for 32 years and now reside in South Florida, where I have been working in a private school for close to 12 years now. I am the mother of six, with a Brady Bunch-styled family: three of my children and three of my husbands, and the grandmother to 13 beautiful grandchildren. After cooking dinner, I always choose the wardrobe I’m wearing for the next day—a habit I’ve had since I can remember.
I love combining my wraps to the clothes I wear. The best part about this whole scenario is that at work I have students that visit me in the office just to see what color I’m wearing that day. When I wear their favorite color they come to see me more than once just to tell me that I’m wearing their favorite color. I have co-workers and even some parents that compliment my wraps and ask me how I do it or if someone does it for me. One parent even told me that she saw a beautiful scarf and remembered me when she saw it…she bought the scarf hoping she could learn to wrap it so she can wear it one day. I told her I would be more than happy to show her how.
One of the most touching experiences I’ve had since I started covering was that one Sunday afternoon my husband and I went to a flea market. A young Jewish salesman called us over. We didn’t need the product, but my husband decided to help him out with a sale. A conversation between this young man and my husband developed, and I noticed the young man would continue to look at me, not in a disrespectful way, though. All of a sudden he said, “My friend I envy you so. I would like for your wife to meet my wife because I see that your wife is the perfect example of tzniut.”
This is a word that means “modesty” in Hebrew, and I felt honored by his comment. My husband smiled and the young man later explained that his wife doesn’t cover because she feels uncomfortable as no one else she knows covers. I realized how difficult it can be to represent something about yourself that you love for fear of judgment that may or may not even exist. It can be so easy to blend in, to not “rock the boat” or “look for attention,” as critics might say. What we can sometimes forget is that those are sayings used to keep us all the same, keep us from being ourselves.
One of the things I love the most is accessorizing my wraps. I tend to visit thrift stores, department stores and swap shops to look for different accessories for my wraps. One of the accessories I really love are pearls. If I find them in all color and sizes, big or small, you can be sure they will adorn my wrap! I even learned to make pearl necklaces into headbands by taking off the clasps and adding elastic in their place. My collection of hair covering continues to grow and grow, but pearls are always a nice personal touch!
When it comes to tips and tricks for covering, I really have nothing of my own as every tip and trick I do know I’ve learned by watching Wrapunzel tutorials and other women that cover. I do however like the idea of wearing a thin scarf as a base underneath the one that will be exposed (for the extra volume). I wrap the base scarf to make it look neat and round; this way, I know that the top scarf will look neat as well (this is optional as I don’t do this all the time). Accessories can be tricky for me—I have so many that sometimes it’s hard to choose! There are times I’m afraid I may over accessorize, so I observe caution. When in doubt, a simple string of pearls goes a long way in my experience.
From covering my own hair, I’ve learned that a woman that covers herself, whether for religious, health or personal reasons, will always be the center of attention especially in a community that does not use head covering. Positive or negative comments will surely arise, but that is something that can’t be controlled by the barer of the cover. I’ve been fortunate; so far I have received nothing but compliments from those around me. But I must say—the journey can be lonely. In my case, I’m the only one that uses a hair covering in my family, the community in which I live, and my work place (for the time being). The most amazing thing is, through discovering Wrapunzel, I have realized I am not the only woman going through this, not by a long shot! Reading the blogs and posts, seeing the daily/weekly pictures, and learning new wraps have inspired me to start and keep going with this self-expression.
I am overjoyed that my husband love’s my wraps, too, and somehow I get the feeling this is something he planned all along (as it was him who found the Wrapunzel site). I am grateful he sticks up for me and pushes me to be confident in myself and my decisions.