Monday, April 29, 2013

Seeing Yourself

A friend recently said that she saw my usual outside head-covered as my geeky presentation, and me with my hair down as a freer and looser self.  I'm certainly a geek- but...

My own image of myself is rather the opposite- my covering makes me feel adult and competent and a very different sort of pretty from how I presented myself with my hair down, which tends to feel rather innocent or young when I'm imagining myself.

Covering my hair often does give me that "I'm wearing a crown" feeling that motivational speakers and writers talk about.  I feel more dignified and adult, while also feeling beautiful.  I think I associate it with stories and historical pieces where only young women wear their hair down- married women, or really, adult women, put their hair up in various setting-appropriate hair-dos.
(What I happen to be wearing today)
Only my hair is quite slippery, and while it's very long, it lacks body.  And I've never had the interest in figuring out the mysteries of hair spray.  So up-dos have never been my thing, I never figured them out.  Not to mention that they are generally quite incompatible with a scarf or kippah.

In other words, covering for me is not only a religious choice, but also a powerful aid to my self-image.  I feel more confident, more beautiful, more capable.  It surprises me to hear that some people have the opposite reaction to my covering.  But I'm sticking to my guns- I'm not letting this disturb my vision of myself, I like it too much.

How do you envision yourself with your favorite style of covering?  


  1. Sigh... intellectual, down-to-earth, serious, all business...

    But not totally myself.

    1. So covering is associated with professionalism for you. I wonder what aspect of yourself it doesn't welcome.

  2. ...This one is complicated. Doubly complicated, perhaps, because I tend to have qualified favorites.
    In terms of hats, I've loved cloches more or less since I got married. They make me feel stylish and pretty and they work really well with my face. But hats, especially in the summer, can be something of an unpleasant presence and I always wonder how distracting they are in a classroom and how much of someone else's vision I am blocking. But they are my staple items, the things I go to when I want to feel well-dressed.
    And then there's my love-hate relationship with scarves. I love with the beautiful, complex, layered wraps that you do, but my hair is quite short, very fine and exceedingly straight while my face is quote round, so volume is something that happens to other people. I tend to stick to one or two scarves that can be wrapped flat and that hang down on the left (I wear my bag on my right side). And part of me loves the way that I look in them: I feel elegant and as though I give the impression that I actually thought about my outfit that day and like I am making a statement.
    The other part of me wishes that it was a comprehensible statement. Living away from a large and settled Jewish community means that I spend a lot of time wondering what I look like to those who pass me by. Do they understand that there is an element of religious obligation to what I do? Is the statement I am making the statement that they are hearing? (And I can't get away from wondering whether they think I look "weird".)
    My favorite style of scarf (which, by the way, is usually a rectangular scarf with fringes, wrapped twice around my head with very little height, and then tied with the knot above my left ear so that the tails hang down) leaves me, on the one hand, feeling as though I am doing something meaningful and brave and beautiful and different, on the other hand, feeling like an outsider among people who cannot understand her language.

    1. It's hard to separate fashion and the way that the people around you interpret things from how they communicate inside, isn't it? (Although I can tell you that I get compliments on my "hat" from assorted non-Jewish Brooklynites...) I sometimes wonder why the most powerful spiritual messages (brave, beautiful) are located so close to feeling alone (different, weird).

      And you definitely look great in a cloche. I also wonder about them in terms of the brim and eye-contact (it's one reason I don't wear them to work), but they are undeniably classy.