The Beautiful Carmen!

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!
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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. 


 

19 thoughts on “The Beautiful Carmen!

  1. Carmen, I sooo relate to your experience with hair wrapping. I too am the only one that wraps in my community ect. I also have always had a secret desire to cover my hair and now that I am…I am loving it and me more! It is fun to have such a wonderful way of expressing the beautiful inner us! Blessings!

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    • Yes Angela…. I understand, that’s why I love this site so much. I have so much fun wrapping. And I know Im not alone on my journey. Thank you for your comment.

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  2. I love this article not only because Carmen is an amazing Wrap-star, but because it really touches on the idea of feminine leadership. When we cover in a noticeable way, no matter what the people around us do, it encourages other women and turns us into rolemodels based on feminine traits like modesty, dignity, and cooperation (rather than competition).

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  3. Absolutely beautiful ! And i loved hearing how your husband is so supprtive and such a catalyst for growth in this area, although i am not Jewish, i do cover full time because of my religious beliefs. I am Catholic and while there is a growing population of ladies who cover during worship there is a much much smaller community (ESPECIALLY in my rural area, i am the only 1 ! ) that are called to cover full time or for the same reasons I feel drawn to cover, and my own husband has been very much responsible for helping me come out of my shell, so to speak, with his support and encouragement. It hasnt been easy here in a tiny backwoods Ky town, it does sometimes feel very alone. That is why i adore the Wrapunzel site so much, it really is a community that is kind and welcoming!
    BTW , those wraps absolutely rock they are so amazing and inspiring …just like Andrea & Rivka Malka’s works of art !

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  4. Carmen, you are beautiful and your coverings are, too! I think I like those with the flowers best. I must try using flowers this summer. Thank you so much for sharing your experience and your beautiful pictures.

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  5. Carmen, my beautiful friend, what a wonderful expression you wrote. I love your wraps so much. You are a true inspiration to me and to so many other ladies.
    It is so nice to learn just a bit more about you. Now I just admire you more.
    I’m so happy to call you friend.
    Chava Canales

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  6. Carmen, what an inspirational story! Your wrapping is magical. I met one of my daughters friends mom, she loves my Tichels and is now wanting to wear one. Blessings!!

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  7. Wow, Carmen! Your wraps are absolutely stunning, but even more, your words have really touched my heart. You write so clearly and beautifully, and really let the genuine YOU shine through. In my eyes, that is what tzniut is really about.

    When I read that you are a grandmother of 13 (bli ayin hara) I nearly fell off my chair! You look so young, and your skin is perfect. How on earth do you do that?

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  8. Carmen. Thank you!
    What a lovely example of modesty and beauty combined.

    In my community it seams the plainer the outfit and covering, the more modest.
    I am an artist and love the colours and life in creation. The Ming blue and silver of the night sky, glowing molten bronze and gold in the sunset and the pure aqua and teal of the sea laced with red coral. Your understanding of colour is just great to see!
    And yes, it was the online videos of the beautiful Andrea and glowing Rivka Malka that encouraged me to try beauty and modesty together 😉

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  9. Carmen you explained it so well.ive only resently returned to my jewish side as I am messianic well that’s wat they call us.but I have a neice who has hair down to her ankles and I call her rapanzel,her real name Rachel.so when I looked up head coverings for the first time I felt it was an answer to pray that I found wrapanzel.my mum was very worried but I have found most people to be kind and every sunday I get lots of comments.i feel I belong for the first time in my life and as you said I now don’t jst blend but express my true self through my wrap.im jst trying to find the right wrap for my job as I am in aged care and go to peoples homes and do a lot of physical wrk.and im the only one in my community who wears this type of thing so it will be a new experience for me and them.so nice to meet all you lovely ladys. thanks so much

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    • Hi Jodi. I am a nurse at a hospital and have been covering for a few months now. I really like the 2in1s, pashminas, and “fresh outdoors” from the wrapunzel site for work. I find they all tuck in nicely and stay put for my entire day! I always wear a velvet headband and shaper under, and haven’t gotten too hot yet! The 2in1s are quickly becoming my favorite because they are so light weight, and I can pair 2 of them together without feeling bulky. And the outdoors print matched with a solid adds just enough fun, without being too over the top for the hospital and the tasks at hand. Hope this helps!

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  10. Thank you, this so expressed the way I feel and I’m so blessed to hear others experiences. I live in small town Texas and feel like the only person around that covers, this blog and all the wonderful ladies help me to know that I am not alone.

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