Hair Covering, Appropriation, Hate, & Health

Hey there, everyone! I’ve been thinking a lot lately(or was it soul searching?) and I think this blog is headed in a more… open direction. So there’s gonna be more lifestyle lifestyle posts. You know what I mean. Fashion, recipes, DIY projects, the whole sha-bang. And a big part of my lifestyle is hair covering.

I do it for a lot of reasons, but not for religion. And would you believe nobody’s ever asked me about it? Which I totally appreciate! But it took me a long time to decide it was okay for me to cover my hair in public. I was worried that it might be cultural appropriation, worried about Islamophobia, and thought I needed to be religious to cover my hair. Maybe you’re in the same boat right now.

Don’t worry, I’ve got you covered! Here’s some info to avoid appropriation, and some non-religious reasons to cover.

Most Cultures Have A History of Hair Covering

Seriously, there are so many different types of head coverings! They can be found in most cultures. We’re not going to talk about all of them here because there’s just so many. BUT we are going to talk about cultural appropriation!

What is cultural appropriation, anyways? Well, it’s stealing and disrespecting a cultures intellectual and/or artistic property! The key word here is stealing.

For example, a couple of years ago there was a cultural appropriation controversy involving Marc Jacobs. One of his runway shows featured white models wearing their hair in Bantu knot mohawks. Bantu knots have been around for basically forever as a protective style for African hair.

The lead hairstylist for the show credited the look to Bjork, which is fine, she was the inspiration after all. However, the original name for the style wasn’t mentioned at all. After the show, a beauty blog did a tutorial for the style, calling them mini-buns and crediting Marc Jacobs with the style.

And aside from ignoring the rich cultural roots of Bantu knots, many African hairstyles are seen as unprofessional on black people but trendy on white people. Big yikes.

Taking a traditionally black hairstyle, changing its name to sound more white and ignore it’s cultural roots, and only crediting white people is cultural appropriation, plain and simple. Giving credit where credit is due is just basic respect, babes. Learn about the cultural history of styles before just taking them for yourself, and respect any restrictions that culture may have on those things.

You Can’t Take Whatever You Want

Intercultural dialogue is important, but that means you have to listen. And if you’re in the majority group, it means you have to do your own research. It’s not minority groups’ and oppressed peoples’ jobs to educate you.

Did you know that white Americans used to make black women cover their hair? You should know that if you want to cover your hair, too. Why? Well, it’s a matter of respect. What you see as cool or trendy can be a reminder of painful histor, and some styles have even come to represent resistance to white oppression. And before hair covering was forced? It was a sign of status and African pride!

Understanding the cultural history of something before you wear it is important. Clothes aren’t always just clothes, everything from the pattern/design to how it’s worn can carry cultural significance. I’m not telling you that you aren’t allowed to wear certain things if you’re not from a certain culture, just be respectful about it.

I’m gonna assume you’re all familiar with the MAGA hats by now, right? The red, pro-Drumf Make America Great Again baseball caps, you know the ones. Chances are if you see someone wearing a red baseball cap you’re gonna think that they’re a Trump supporter. Yuck, I know. But what if that person just likes red hats or the hat really matches their outfit?

I’ve never left America, so maybe those hats aren’t as common in other places, but people here assume right away that someone in a red baseball cap is probably a bigot. Seriously, clothes carry meaning, babes. Just be mindful of the message you might be sending when choosing certain styles and patterns.

Religious Hair Coverings

Here’s a list of some common religious hair coverings. Don’t ever assume that people cover their hair because they’re forced to, or because they’re oppressed. And remember, if you wear these styles people will probably think that you’re religious.

Like I said before, it’s really important to understand the meaning behind what you wear because other people will read into your appearance whether you want them to or not. Islamophobia, the “fear”(ignorance and hatred) of Islam, is a serious issue. People die because of it. Bigots won’t take the time to ask you if you’re religious or not, they’ll see a hair covering and jump to conclusions.

The sad reality is, it’s dangerous to wear certain hair coverings in certain parts of the world, religious or not. Covering with hats like snoods and beanies is an option if you want to cover your hair without attracting attention.

But why would anyone want to cover their hair if they aren’t religious, anyways?

Hair Covering For Solidarity

After the Christchurch shooting in New Zealand, which killed 50 people while they were praying in mosques, the women of New Zealand got together and wore headscarves in solidarity with the Muslim community in a project called “Headscarf for Harmony.”

In 2017, the President of Austria called for all women to wear the headscarf in solidarity with religious women who cover.

And it is not only Muslim women, all women can wear a headscarf, and if this real and rampant Islamaphobia continues, there will come a day where we must ask all women to wear a headscarf – all – out of solidarity to those who do it for religious reasons.

Alexander Van der Bellen

Bigots and right-wing terrorists will have a heck of a hard time targeting Muslim women if they can’t tell who’s Muslim. Will it ever happen? Who knows. But if it does happen, it’ll probably be one at a time.

By covering your hair in solidarity, you can help other women feel safer and more accepted in public. And with all that research you’ve done before choosing how to cover your hair, you can help dispel harmful myths and stereotypes people may have about women who cover. I’d be willing to bet an ignorant bigot would be a little more willing to listen to someone who said they weren’t covering their hair for religion. And maybe if they listened they would start to un-learn their hatred and fear.

Check out this article about World Hijab Day and some of the nuances of wearing a headscarf in solidarity with Muslim women.

But remember, you don’t need political or religious reasons to want to cover your hair!

Hair Covering Saves Time

I used to wear my hair in a ponytail or a bun every day. It was easy and quick, but it broke my hair and gave me headaches. Plus, it made me feel….blah. But I’m no good at styling hair, don’t like styling hair, and certainly don’t have the patience for it. Now I just wrap my hair in some silk to prevent friction and breakage before throwing it all in a beanie or wrapping another scarf around it. It always makes me feel more put together than a ponytail. Always.

But it might actually take more time when you first start out. Unless you’re just throwing a hat on, you’re gonna need to learn to wrap scarves. It takes time, practice, and patience. Lot’s of patience. Oh yeah, and some pins to help everything stay in place, too! Once you get the hang of it though, it’s a breeze.

You Can Go Longer Between Washes

In case you haven’t heard, washing your hair every day is bad for your hair. It strips your hair of it’s natural oils, which it needs to stay healthy. It does a bunch of other bad stuff too, and can result in dry, brittle, lifeless hair. Or, drying out your hair with frequent and harsh washes could make your scalp overcompensate, resulting in oily, limp hair. Yuck.

Counter-intuitive as it sounds, a great way to fix both dry and oily hair is to go longer between washes. For many people, dry-shampoo helps them with this problem. As much as I want to love dry shampoo, I just don’t. It’s okay. The scent is usually strong and I just never get decent results with it. But a hat or scarf? Works every time.

A Healthier Scalp

This is kind of embarrassing, but part of why I started covering my hair was because I had dandruff. And I really like to wear black. Yeah, not a great combination. Beanies and scarves are perfect for keeping snow off your shoulders.

Hair goes through cycles of growing and shedding. Shedding can be so annoying, hair just gets everywhere. In the drain, on outfits, in the vacuum, just everywhere. Brushing your hair every day is a good way to combat it since the hair collects in the brush, it can only do so much. I haven’t had to worry about any loose hairs on me since I started covering my hair and it’s been nice.

Since covering my hair, I started washing it less, and wouldn’t ya know it my dandruff went away and I’ve been losing less hair. My hair is healthier and shinier now than it has been in years!

Just be careful that whatever it is you’re covering with isn’t too tight. Wearing tight or rough fabrics every day could cause friction and damage your hair, irritate your scalp, and even cause thinning.

A Greater Sense of Security

Aside from feeling way better about myself because of my healthier hair, I’ve also experienced less anxiety since I started covering. Turns out, I’m prone to sensory overload and didn’t even realize it. But what’s sensory overload? Exactly what it sounds like; you’re hearing too much and seeing too much and everything is just too much. Here’s a video that does a really nice job of showing how it feels. Trigger Warning: it’s a lot of audio and repetitive sounds.

One of my favorite ways to cover my hair is with a hoodie. The kind with the draw string in the hood so I can just tie it closed around my face. It muffles sounds a little bit, and the sides of the hoodie block a little bit of my sight. It’s great!

Sounds have always been a trigger for me, whether it’s a specific sound or way too many going on at once, sounds give me anxiety more than most things. Growing up, I didn’t know what anxiety or sensory overload were, I just believed people when they told me I was overreacting. Even though I apparently wasn’t. But whatever. The same thing happens with too many bright colors, or too much motion, so grocery shopping and the highway can be super stressful.

I wouldn’t have thought that something as simple as a piece of fabric would be able to help me deal with my anxiety as it has. It helps me make sure things don’t get to be too much.

The Right To Choose

I cover my hair because I choose to cover my hair. Because I get to decide how much of myself to show the world. Nobody else gets to make that decision for me. It saves me time, it’s good for my hair and scalp, and it makes me feel secure.

Sure, covering my hair helps with sensory overload and anxiety, but do ya know what it helps with even more? The male gaze and anxiety.

I’ve been grabbed, kissed, cat-called, and threatened with sexual violence by so many men. Not all men are like this, obviously, but I’ve been dealing with inappropriate comments and more from men ever since middle school and it doesn’t seem like the trend is gonna be letting up any time soon. Eventually, you learn to spot the men to expect it from. How? Their gaze.

Dilated pupils, a lingering gaze or even a downright stare, usually paired with a patronizing grin. You know the look. Ugh.

Not to sound vain or anything, but I’m cute as hell. I love taking selfies, I love looking in the mirror, I love myself. And I hate being looked at like that. Those men don’t deserve the satisfaction of seeing how fine I am. My will to spite the living heck out of creeps is way stronger than my desire to fit their beauty standards. 100 percent.

Honestly, I think I look good with my hair covered. A handful of people have been “kind” enough to tell me how much better I look with my hair down. Like…..that’s kind of the point. To uuhhhh avoid attention because I don’t care what people think about how I look.

Freedom of Choice Is a Privilege and a Right

You’ve probably heard the narrative that women who cover their hair are oppressed. There are definitely countries that force women to cover when they might not want to, and that’s not okay. There are also countries that forbid women to cover, which is also not okay.

Both of these are examples of governments trying to control women’s bodies. Be able to recognize that what is liberating for you can be oppressive for someone else, and vice versa.

Freedom of choice is more than a privilege, though, it’s a basic human right.

Share your reasons for covering, or not covering, in the comments! Don’t forget to like and subscribe for more 😊

Published by Sam

Hey there, I'm Sam! I'm a freelance writer. Stick around for some writing tips, cheesy poetry, and free wallpapers! ✨

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