Tag Archive | muslim

The Fascinating and Beautiful Heather!!

Our lady wrap star, Heather (yes, our second last lady wrap star is also Heather – I couldn’t plan this sort of thing if I tried!) has been part of the Wrapunzel community since… well.. since before it was the Wrapunzel community!  Over the years I’ve caught bits and pieces of her story and about whom she is.  She always came off as such a warm, stable, articulate and just, well… such a cool person that I really wanted to know!  She is all kinds of awesome and I’m so happy to introduce her to you officially!  In a word, her story is FASCINATING.  A must read.  Here’s Heather!

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First, I am INCREDIBLY honored to be asked to write for Andrea’s blog. It is definitely a high point for me in my covering journey! It’s been a rather bumpy one, and something that is not seen often where I live, in Southern West Virginia.

You don’t see many women like me in this community and buying from the store: women with beautiful tichels and adornments covering their hair. I’ve not had any rude comments as of this writing, but I HAVE had many compliments. My family is a mixed bag of support and reluctance. My husband is supportive of me covering (now), my father hasn’t said anything for or against it. My mother, though, is okay with it, so long as I don’t wear it in places that it would be seen as unusual. She asked me if I was going to “wear that thing” to a job interview. I told her that I was, that it was my head and if they had an issue with that, then I wouldn’t want to work there in the first place.  I have many cousins who love my tichels, and have expressed interest in purchasing and wearing their own (and I have offered my time to help them as soon as they want me to!) I see a few ladies covering their hair; it’s rare, but I have seen them. They wear the hijab, and it’s lovely, and I think quite brave of them, in all honesty. I always brace myself for a nasty comment when I leave my house, and while I HAVE gotten strange looks, I have yet to hear a snide remark. Good thing, too. I’m not as apt to take it as I was when I was younger.

As for religion, I’m not Jewish. I’m not Christian or Muslim either. I’m a very secular lady who has no religious reason at this time to cover. I did have one at one point, but I have done a lot of soul searching and found that religion is just not something that I feel is necessary in my life right now. It took a long time for me to admit, even to myself, that I fall into the agnostic atheist category, but I’m there, and I feel perfectly happy (though I do wish I had a local community to be a part of sometimes). I won’t reveal what religious beliefs I had after I left Christianity (I don’t want certain people to see this and decide they wouldn’t want to be part of my life anymore), but I will explain my coming to my current position as best I can.

Photo collage by Heather's husband - Heath!  He is a graphic artist and does awesome work!

Photo collage by Heather’s husband, Heath! He is a graphic artist and does awesome work!

So, where to begin the story of how I came to covering my hair? Well, I’ve heard that it’s best to start at the beginning, so here goes:

I have always had a love/hate relationship with my hair. Ever since I was a child, I would take a lock of my hair and place it between my index and middle fingers and let it slide through. I loved (and still love) the silky, cool feeling of my hair moving between my fingers. A few strands would come out, but nothing major. It drove my parents up the wall, and they would always tell me to stop if they were in the same room with me. I also never could fix my hair properly. I tried so hard, and got so upset every day. It got to the point where I was begging my mother to help me fix my hair – and this was all the way into high school! I was just terrible with my hair. Makeup, I could do that! I rocked out makeup, manicures, etc. I even got asked to do prom makeup for people! But my hair just never did anything I asked it to do. So most of the time, when I was in college, I would just pull it back into a tight bun or a ponytail and let it go at that.

I also love coloring my hair. My natural color is a light reddish brown, but it’s currently dark brown/black (I’m a community theatre actress and I colored it for a role last summer). I have always wanted to wear funky colors in my hair, and I even went so far as to bleach it and color it teal in 2004! I LOVED it. Every morning I would get up and look at my hair, and was just amazed at how gorgeous the color looked. Unfortunately, it was a wash out color, and when it started looking dingy, I colored my hair black. It stayed that color until I moved home from college.

Well, that covers (no pun intended) how I feel about  my hair. Now let’s discuss how I came to love covering my hair:

I was raised Christian. I went to church, belonged to Christian school groups, read the Teen Bible, etc. I started seeing a guy who had books about OTHER religions. I had no idea that anything else really existed. We don’t have much religious diversity here (other than different denominations of Christianity). Anyway, I found a book that struck a chord in me and I devoted myself to the religion within its pages. I won’t elaborate on what that religion was, as I am not totally open with a lot of people in my area. (Following a different religion usually gets you harassed here.) During college, I grew apart from practicing ANY religion, mainly due to depression and sadness (I married the guy I was seeing and he became abusive). I left him in 2006, right after I gave birth to a son. After I met the man who would later become my actual husband, I began practicing my religion again, and I did so until recently.

During my reawakening, I began reading about the priestesses of Hestia and Hera, the Greek Goddesses of the hearth and home, and marriage and family, respectively. I have always been fascinated with ancient Greek mythology/theology and in all the research I did, I discovered something: both of those Goddesses wore VEILS! Their Priestesses wore VEILS! They all covered their hair! I was fascinated. I still am! I had never thought about covering my hair aside from doing it to keep it out of my face, but I saw that women used to cover their hair, that they would wear it like a crown. They were the Queens in their homes, in their marriages. That appealed to me greatly, and is a reason why I cover. I am the QUEEN of my life, and these tichels are my crowns! Then I found Andrea’s and Rivka Malka’s YouTube channels. I was absolutely smitten! I started wearing bandannas frequently around the house, doing my chores with a smile on my face. I felt much more connected somehow, and I couldn’t figure out why.

I was on Facebook a lot (as I still am) and a friend and I discovered a group that was for women with similar beliefs to me who covered their hair. I decided to give it a try, both the group AND the covering. The group wasn’t really for me, I found, and at the time, I wasn’t very good at covering. I didn’t have many scarves or veils, and I felt a little silly covering outside of the house because you just didn’t see that sort of thing here where I live. Not to mention that my husband wasn’t too keen on the idea (then anyway).

So, I stopped. For nearly 3 years.

During that three years, I became an agnostic atheist, which is to say that I am unsure if any higher power exists, and while I doubt, I cannot prove or disprove it. I lean towards the belief of no Deity at the moment, though I still believe Nature itself is divine and I celebrate the passing of the seasons, and mark the days with celebrations, even if it’s just a small acknowledgement of it. Because of that, I have no religious reason to cover my hair. None whatsoever.

But I rediscovered my love for it.

One day, out of the blue, I started covering again. It wasn’t something I set out to start doing, but I revisited Andrea’s blog and YouTube channel, and discovered Rivka Malka’s blog and YouTube channel. I went into my room and dug out my scarves and Israeli tichels (as I mentioned above, I didn’t have many at the time) and immediately began covering.

I suppose you could say I heard a call, not with my ears, but with my heart. I don’t believe it was a call from a Deity, personally, but more of my own desire to acknowledge something beautiful within myself. Right before, though, another group that I’m in had a couple of girls who decided to try and cover during domestic duties. They began to ask me about it. That reaffirmed my desire to start covering again. I cover every day, even at home, as it keeps me from sweeping up hair all the time and pulling my hair as well. Plus, it makes me feel gorgeous, and since it sits on my head, it keeps me mindful of things. It reminds me to use my head when I would rather use my heart when reacting to things. I am a very emotional person, and I have issues with anxiety and my tichels and headcovering practice helps me deal with it by giving me something to focus on rather than what is causing my anxiety. It also reminds me that I am a QUEEN – and I mean capital Q-U-E-E-N! I use that term to remind myself that I am in control of myself, my body, my mind, my spirit, my entire being. My tichel is my crown, and now my husband is on board with me covering (as he put it, it’s  my head and he would love me no matter what). I love discovering new combinations, new ways to tie. I even made a tie myself, that was inspired by The Girl with the Pearl Earring painting.

I have begun to do tutorials for women who are just starting out, because I can show my hair. I can show from beginning to end how I do it, and give them tips that they may not be able to see anywhere else, because I am able to show my hair as a secular woman with no commandment from a Deity to keep my hair to myself. Of course, I’m not knocking those who DO. It’s just not my particular calling, and if I can help a woman who feels it IS her duty to keep her hair for her husband but doesn’t know where to begin, I will do so. And I will love every minute of it!

You’ve seen this scarf before… but I’m obsessed!!

Hi ladies!!  Check out this new way to wrap your sari scarf!  It’s a normal tie, just with the lines on an angle… and then the pin is placed at the top of the head instead of the side like I’m used to!  Yay happy experiments!  What do you think?

And do y’all think it’s about time I got myself another sari scarf?  😛

Hope you’re all having a beautiful day!
Love, Andrea

Lotsa Tutorials!!

Hey Everyone!  This is an exciting new thing for me… Rivka Malka and I made some tutorials TOGETHER!!!!  It was so much fun to do – very different from anything I’ve done before!!  Here they are!  Let me know what you think!

Introducing… Batsheva!

Batsheva is our newest lady wrap star!  You may remember another Batsheva being featured on Wrapunzel (the one that makes gorgeous jewellery), and this Batsheva also lives in Israel!  So don’t get them confused…

I met this lovely lady through the wonders of the internet, since she also happens to be friends with Tamar, another previous wrap star.  I was immediately taken in by her honesty, humour, and insight, and after looking through some of her photos, I had many questions that I wanted to ask her!  Here she is!

batsheva lady wrap star wrapunzel

Hi Batsheva!  Can you tell us a little about yourself?  (Ie: where are you from?  Where do you live now?  How to you choose to spend your time?  Family, friends, special interests, etc.?)
Hi Andrea, and Wrapunzels!
I’m so excited to be featured as a Lady Wrap Star.
A little about me: I was born and raised in Chicago, Illinois, and currently live in the City Center of Jerusalem, Israel.
When I’m not working, I love spending time with my friends, exploring new areas, catching up on my sleep (I’m going to be honest here), and cooking, and enjoying the company of my husband and kitty!!!
How long have you been covering your hair?
I have been covering my hair is November 23rd, 2012. This was the first day after I was married, and on this day, I started my ticheling adventures.
Tell us a little about your hair covering adventures;  What do you usually cover with?  What are your general feelings about covering?  How do you feel about the way other women cover and societal pressures, etc. and how has this affected you?
I have over 150 individual scarves, 12 flowers of different colors, hijab caps, and little pins to accessorize my tichels. 
On a daily basis, I wear a solid scarf and a patterned scarf together, with little something extra, currently I’m into the flowers.
I LOVE covering my hair. 
While I have always had very pretty hair, this is so much more fun.
I am able to match what I’m wearing with scarf colors, add little accessories that show my mood, like flowers verses spikes, and sparkles are always fun.
(I also love the reaction I get to my pretty and adventurous tichels!)
I love living in such a creative area, where women cover their hair a million different ways.
You can see women who wrap like me, wear sheitels (wigs), snoods, scarves that just cover part of their hair, and the list goes on.
I wouldn’t say that I feel pressure to cover my hair, or cover it in a certain way because of other women. I do look at the beautiful sheitels that I see around me, but I won’t be getting one unless my Fairy Sheitel G-dmother gets me one. I think I’m sticking to tichels.
How do others in your community cover their hair?
My husband and I daven/pray at Chabad of Rehavia, and so there is a great majority of women who wear sheitels, but other women like me wear tichels. Many of the younger women show some of their hair, whether it be the first inch or two, or the ponytail.
I cover all of my hair, and try not to let even the stays show, but I still love how other women wrap.
What are your favourite ways to tie your scarves?
I haven’t figured out my favorite way to wrap my scarves, but my husband loves and requests the twist! If I don’t have the twist, and I ask his opinion, he says “It’s beautiful, but where’s the twist?” He says it’s royal, classic, and just makes the whole tichel look better.
What do you look for when shopping for scarves?
That’s a great question!
I try and remember the colors that I don’t have, and believe me, they exist. But in the end I have just been buying patterned light scarves, because it’s getting very hot here.
I have been collecting scarves since 2004, and so I have everything from thick to thin, every solid color I can think of, and now accessories, and from all over the world.
I try and examine the scarf when I’m in the store, make sure there are no snags, and no holes. 
I also try and think to myself “Do I have any clothes to wear this with?!’, but if I really want it, I assume that a black outfit will work…
Let’s hear some of your hair covering advice + tips and tricks!
Sheitel bands! Buy them, buy more than one, and make sure you also have it on correctly!
Don’t worry about what other people are doing, or what others think. It’s easy for me to say that because I can work in an office and wear a tichel, and in America it might be harder to do so, but overall, make sure you’re happy.
I have a friend who gets a lot of problems from people for how she covers her hair, but in the end, she has to be okay with the mitzvah she’s doing. And everyone else should bud out.
Going from displaying your hair one day to covering can be hard and traumatic for some women.
Don’t cover for anyone but yourself, and don’t cover any way that you don’t feel comfortable!
Can you tell us a bit about your relationship with other religions/ways of life?  How has this influenced you to grow and how does it affect you as a Jew?
I love this question.
I grew up in an amazing area of Chicago which is very mixed.
I learned about different cultures, religions, sexual orientations, and way of life for as long as I can remember.
When I went to university for my undergraduate degree, I saw the real Chicago. Chicago is one of the most segregated cities in the United States, and while the city might not enforce this separation anymore, people tend to live by others that look, feel, and relate like they do.
Long story short, I made a very serious effort to befriend and get to know the Muslim girls on campus. I love Islam, and saw the connection between it and Judaism.
I also was becoming religious, and was trying to find my place in the Jewish world.
My Muslim friends, especially the girls, taught me that I could be modest/tznius, but still be fashionable. 
They also taught me about a connection to G-d, how important it is, and that it’s not the outward appearance of being tznius that is what’s important. It’s what you do inside.
I also got great wrap ideas and skill from them! 
And it was re-enforced a lot to match match match! Hijabis have an amazing way of making the extra color of their shoes, purse, strip in their shirt to their hijab. I only try.
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Has hair covering enhanced these relationships?
I believe that if I lived in America, closer to my Muslim friends from university, that we’d be able to share tricks, scarves, etc. Now I just look on Facebook, Twitter, and follow Hijab tutorials on Youtube.
While I’m here, ladies look at one another, and give that look of “nice tichel”. It’s in the eyes, but it’s the look of approval and understanding.
 A cute story was when I was in Phoenix, Arizona for my sister-in-law’s wedding. I was in a mall when I saw this woman with this HUGE wrap on her head.
I have a twitter-feed, all about all kind of women who wrap, so I asked her if I could take a picture.
I also complimented her on her wrap, and she looked me up and down and said “You’re pretty fly yourself!” I was very proud at that moment.
What are your hopes and dreams for Jewish women and the future of the world?
I don’t hope for only one group of people. I’m not sure I know how to. 
I would say in general, I hope that we can all just get along.
In so many situations, differing groups live side by side, ride the same trains and eat in the same restaurants, and shop at the same stores. Yet they never speak to one another. How different could they be, if they are so similar as well.
I just think energy could be used better, than mindless hate. 
In many occasions in the past, the women have been the game-changers. I can only hope, as women, and hopefully as Jewish women, we can rise to the occasion.
batsheva lady wrap star wrapunzel
What are you grateful for right now?
I’m grateful for my health, my happiness, the ability to live in a world so far away from my home town, without calling home every day…
I’m grateful for my amazing husband who puts up with a lot from me, my unbelievable relationship with my parents, and their health and happiness.
I’m so grateful for my friends here, and all around the world, and all the joys and adventure this year will bring, and all the years to come.
I’m also very grateful for the confidence I have covering my hair, and how it makes me so happy!
 
Here is her twitter feed! – @togetherwrapped

Meet Sarah, this week’s Lady Wrap Star!

I discovered Sarah when a friend directed me to a post she wrote for Worn Journal.  I was immediately captivated by her beautiful writing, evocative stories, and genuine insights on hair covering and modesty.  I left and comment on the article, asking if she would like to be featured on Wrapunzel, and here is the result!  It made me very happy to finally get some answers to the questions I had about the Muslim ideals of hair covering.  She’s also a fellow Canadian!  Enjoy!

(All photographs are from the article Cover to Cover; My history with a headscarf from Worn Journal.)wornfashionjournal sarah

Hi Sarah!  How is today treating you?
Hi Andrea! Today has been great, although I’m a bit sick of winter. Other than that, I’m great!

How do you choose to spend most of your time?
I’m a part time student and a full time worker, so most of my time is occupied by one of the two. I’m an English major, so I get to spend a lot of my time reading and writing which is enjoyable for the most part.

We found each other because I stumbled upon the article you wrote for WORN magazine.  Have you shared your thoughts on hair covering in a public forum before?
I actually have never shared my thoughts on a public forum, ever. A friend of mine is the web editor of Worn and she sent me a message on Facebook asking if I wanted to write something for their blog. I jumped at the chance because I’m a huge fan of Worn, but also I’ve always wanted to share my thoughts and beliefs on covering publicly. It has always gotten on my nerves that most of what I read in news stories were usually written from a negative point of view concerning head covering, and also they were always written by those who don’t even cover!

Can you tell me a bit about why you cover your hair?
First and foremost, I cover my hair for religious reasons. It’s a part of my religion that is very important and personal. A lot of Muslim women wear it for different additional reasons, but what it comes down to is that it’s a religious obligation.  I wear the Muslim head covering called a hijab. Hijab is an all encompassing term for covering your hair and body. I feel like it really gives me ultimate control over my body and what others are able to see. Also, I feel like wearing a hijab makes me easily identifiable as a Muslim woman and that way people will know what I stand for.

What does the Muslim religion say about when a woman should start to cover her head?  Is there a particular right of passage that happens around the time she starts doing so?
In Islam, Muslim women are advised to start covering around the time puberty hits, however, it’s up to the woman as to when she starts. There’s no particular right of passage that happens, probably because there’s not a set age of when a woman should start covering.

wornfashionjournal sarah

Are there any specific rules that you follow when you cover?  (Aka how much skin, colour, material etc.)
There are specific rules and guidelines within Islam for covering. Although a lot of people have their own ideas, I try and stay as close as I can to my religious guidelines. I cover my hair, ears, neck and bosom and I try to wear loose clothing that doesn’t show too much of my figure. A lot of people assume Muslim women have to wear black, but that’s more of a Middle-Eastern cultural practice rather than a religious obligation.  I mostly wear long skirts and dresses, but I try not to be boring in my choices. I make sure that even though I am covered, my personality still comes through in my clothing. I try to wear a lot of different colours and even though I follow certain guidelines, I think I still am able to be stylish.

What does the word “modesty” mean to you?
Modesty means to me, being empowered. Being able to dress in a way that allows me to keep my dignity and makes me feel comfortable. It’s different for everyone, but I find that lately aspiring for modesty is something that is looked down on. To me, it’s what I strive for.

What are your thoughts in regards to one’s self worth and covering hair?
Personally, it has given me a great feeling of self worth. I can’t speak for others, and maybe this isn’t something that works for every woman, but covering has really made me feel very confident. In high school, it wasn’t always very easy because of that desire every teen feels to “fit in”, but the more I thought about the reasons why I cover, the more I realised how good it made me feel.
The older I got, the more I started noticing how objectified women are and it made me realise that from the moment we’re young girls, we’re told that a woman’s worth is based on how attractive she is. I feel like covering my body goes against those principles and that I’m focusing less on my physical self and more on who I am as a person.

Do your friends also cover?
My friends I see the most often don’t cover, mostly because they aren’t from religions that follow this practice. Out of my Muslim friends, most of them do cover but there are also some who are not ready to take that step just yet. It really isn’t an issue for anyone as it is a personal choice.

wornfashionjournal sarah

What is your most vivid hair covering experience?
The most vivid hair covering experience was probably getting to write the article for Worn. I never thought anybody would be interested in my experiences with covering my hair, but I don’t think I’ll forget such an empowering experience

Funny/ironic hair covering experience?
Yeah, there have been a few for sure! A lot of funny questions have been asked, and honestly I find it very hard to answer some of them with a straight face. Sometimes people ask me if I have to shower with my hijab or if I sleep in it. Also, I think some people assume that because I cover I don’t speak or understand English. I’ve actually had people ask me when I learned English and how I speak without an accent. They usually get a little embarrassed when I tell them that I was born here in Canada!

How do your friends react to your covering?  Your family?
Luckily, I live in a very diverse city so there has been no backlash from my friends and I can’t think of many cases where it has stopped me from making friends. I started wearing a hijab when I was 12 or so, and people asked me questions at school, but it wasn’t a big deal at all. It was definitely something I was more self conscious about when I was younger, just because of that need to look “normal”, but I came to the conclusion that if someone is going to judge me negatively based on my beliefs, they aren’t worth my time. Most of my friends are used to seeing head coverings of all sorts, and it’s really a non-issue. I’ve made some friends at school who are from small towns and have never seen a woman cover her hair and they had a lot of questions at first, but they’re very supportive of my choices. I find that even though obviously someone might not agree with why I cover or my beliefs, they’re still able to respect me and my choices.
My family also had no issue with me covering, but it was a bit of a surprise to my parents. My sisters had waited until much later to start covering than I did, so my parents were a bit scared that I was rushing into wearing one to copy older sisters. I had to assure them that it was something I wanted to do for myself.

Has covering affected you professionally?
I haven’t really had a “real” job yet since I’m still a student, but I don’t think it has affected me in getting any of the jobs I’ve had. I’ve had jobs that have required uniforms and usually employers are lenient. I do worry that at some point in the future, certain employers might be uncomfortable. I don’t really see it being an issue in my future, mostly because our society is getting used to this sort of thing and it’s becoming more and more common.

wornfashionjournal sarah

Please tell us a bit about what covering has done for you internally.  Any noticeable changes?
I guess internally one of the biggest changes is that I’m now more of a representation of my faith. Before, nobody would really know I was a Muslim woman but now, it’s very obvious. I know I don’t speak for all Muslim women or Islam in general, but I try to be a good ambassador of my faith by countering stereotypes and negative images. I guess it’s the same for all minorities; even though you can’t represent everyone you still can be the first experience someone has of someone of your faith or race.

What do you look for when searching for scarves?
I usually wear the longer pashmina type scarves as they’re the easiest to wrap around my head and luckily they’re available almost everywhere! I try and find ones that are appropriate for the season, thicker materials for the winter and light ones for the summer.

Do you have a favourite scarf and/or accessory?
I don’t have a favourite scarf or accessory. I don’t really accesorise much, and I have too many scarves to pick just one!

Any covering tips or tricks you would like to share?
For a while I was really annoyed with my scarves made from silkier material falling off my head. To avoid that from happening, I always wear a sort of underpiece to have a little friction between my hair and my scarf. Also, I was having issues with storage so I bought the KOMPLEMENT scarf hanger from Ikea. It really has made storage so much easier!

Do have any nicknames?  Where did they come from?
No nicknames! There are a lot of Sarahs out there, so a lot of people just call me by my last name.

What are you grateful for?
I am grateful for so many things. Most days, I’m used to the privileges I have over many others on this Earth and take a lot of things for granted, but sometimes I see something that makes me feel very grateful just to able to walk down the street and feel safe. Above everything, I’m grateful for my parents. The older I get the more I realise the sacrifices parents make for their children and I’m grateful I have two people in my life I can go to for anything. I’m also grateful to have grown up in Canada where I’m exposed to so many different ways of life.