Sunday, June 12, 2011

The Long-Promised, Long-Awaited Hair Covering Post

I have a love/hate relationship with my hair. Okay, check that--I have a hate relationship with my hair. It's very thin. It's very flat. It's very stringy. It's a lovely color, but the other factors quickly reduce that to rubble. Oh, did I mention that PCOS gives me male-pattern baldness and renders the hair on the crown of my head verrrry thin? Very, verrrrrrry thin? (It's at this point that my entire nuclear family would chime in and remind me that I have the thickest hair in the family.) I should threaten to shave it all off, but I need my ponytail to anchor my headscarf in place.

I was reluctant to embrace the headscarf when I started attending the Orthodox Church, but not out of ideological disagreement. I briefly had worn a little white scarf with red rickrack to church when I was Episcopalian (bold, I know), but insecurity about this visible expression of piety won out. Finally, on Christmas, months after I'd started going to the Orthodox Church, I wore that same little white scarf. Shortly after that came crossing myself, venerating icons, and all the other trappings of being Orthodox. The headscarf was the key that opened the door: It was time to stop standing around like a dolt and do "the Orthodox business."

Fast forward a few years. I've reached the point that being in church without a headscarf makes me feel naked. I have one gray bandana and the little white scarf (which isn't looking so hot anymore). So I went online searching for headscarves and found the other Orthodox--the Orthodox Jews. Turned out that Orthodox Jewish women cover their hair basically all the time after they got married. They consider the hair of a married woman to be holy and something for just her and her husband. Needless to say, Orthodox Jews are doing a brisk business in various headcoverings: scarves (tichels ... pronounced tickle), pre-tied bandanas, snoods, you name it. And don't forget the Shabbat hat (hoowee--fancy pantsy!).

I began to embrace the Jewish notion of modesty, seeing its common heritage with the Orthodox Church, and took to wearing hats and tichels while we were in Marfa. But Marfa had anonymity. Marfa embraced quirkiness. I could wear a piece of cloth tied up in a funny way because I could blend in with the other random nuts who lived in Marfa. The beginning of the return to Denton and to civilization marked the end of covering my hair, at least for a little while.

I began seeing a therapist for reasons completely unrelated to the subject of this blog post, and after each session we'd go to a little Italian restaurant for a late lunch and a deflating period (therapy's harder than it looks). Since we were there at an off-period, we were usually served by the manager, a Muslim woman who practiced hijab (if you don't know what it is, look it up--it's good to learn about other cultures). I realized that I admired her modesty. I realized that it was wrong and silly that devout Jewish and Muslim women covered their hair while Christians got increasingly less modest in church. And then I realized my fate was sealed.

Back on went the headscarf.

Now I only wear a tichel or hat when I'm around other people. When it's just Chris and me, he gets to see my hair in all its limp yet dreamy-brown glory. I haven't gone completely frum ... yet. (Once again, if you don't know what it is, look it up. Google is amazing.) And I'd also be lying if I created the impression that I did this for entirely religious reasons. There's a wonderful, unique element of fashion to headcovering that gives me a little more self-esteem than my sorry excuse for hair would. I also don't want to come across as judging those women who don't cover their hair ... although I would like to see more women do it. :)

But now the important part: where to get good tichels and how to tie them.

Where to Get Tichels and Other Goodies!
The Style Underground - This is my favorite place. More expensive than most, but that's because she makes substantially better tichels. And her new stuff is kee-yoot!
Sowers of Hope - Admittedly a little creepy (let's just say it's abundantly clear that they're not Orthodox of any kind), but they make cute and good-quality tichels among other things.
Tznius - So many consonants right in a row, so little time. (What?) I've gotten some great tichels here, especially the Luminescence Scarf--get it before it sells out! Oh, and if you can figure out how to get the Classic 'Forget-me-not' Beret into the cart, please tell me. I really want that beret.
My Tichels - I admit to never having shopped here, but their stuff does look cute. One thing you'll figure out if you do a search for tichels on your own is that everyone seems to have the same stuff--these guys have different tichels, which makes me a happy camper.
Aliza's Boutique - I have shopped at Aliza's Boutique, and I love it. Tichel selection is spotty, but their collection of pre-tied bandanas and hats are not to be missed. The berets are so cute that one could theoretically die of cute overload just looking at them ... theoretically. Proceed with caution. - My interest in this website has waned as I look for more interesting finds, but it's great for basics. They have a stock of solid cotton tichels that periodically dwindles down to nothing and again is periodically replenished, so it's nice to have that source for a "nothing fancy" headcovering. They also have some videos that are handy for basic tying methods. :)

How to Tie
Tznius has a good guide and a good variety, but they kind of overcomplicate things a little. It may be better to check the videos on to learn.
If you're feeling more adventurous, the Style Underground has truly thrilling options. Make sure and check out this video to learn how I discovered one of my favorite songs (and I think my hair is finally long enough to do this one--woohoo!).

So there. That's the post on headcovering I've been planning to do for like a year. Hope you enjoyed it ... or at least weren't utterly scandalized by it.

1 comment:

Svetleah said...

Great. Now I have to buy a Shabbat hat. ;)

I tried covering my hair for most of Lent by wearing snoods. I liked doing it, but it didn't give me the same comfort that I feel wearing a scarf in church. It just kind of felt like wearing a hat. Maybe I'm just not enlightened enough yet or maybe I was expecting too much. Probably something that I should just do whether I feel something or not. Like most things.