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?  

Friday, April 26, 2013

Flattering Your Face

I've posted links to blogs that have talked about choosing hats that flatter your face, in the past.  Those have all been aimed a. at hats, b. at situations where you have hair coming out as well, and c. at a general audience.

I'd like to think about similar considerations for scarves.  What face shapes are best suited by building up height or by high or low buns?  Do layers of scarves draw attention in one direction or another that might interact with emphasizing different parts of your face?  What about creating dangling tails or a more tailored look, bringing the eye up?  How do all these things interact?  What impact do accessories have?

The problem is, I don't really understand this business of face shape, in its complexities.  So it's hard for me to think about what sorts of things flatter what face shapes.  So I'm hoping to start experimenting on my friends (and any other volunteers), to start forming some ideas.

In the meantime, any thoughts you, my dear readers, might have would be very welcome.  What styles suit your face, and what don't?  Do you sometimes choose a "less flattering" style because you just like it, or because it sends the right social message, or because it's comfortable, or for some other reason?

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Back to Photos

Here are a couple of recent experiments, both with the same base scarf.  I haven't been doing daily photos.  I'll get back to those sometime soon.
Here's number one: An under-over woven band around my head, with the tails hanging at the sides.  I liked it, and the scarf didn't slip, either...
(The picture above somehow reminds me of countless pictures of me from my childhood, although I like it rather more than I liked those, at the time.)

And here's a regular style- base scarf and a band around it, but with a dollar-store cloth flower added around the back.  I hadn't realized how big this one was until I put it on, but I guess a little goes a long way, flower-wise.  If it were smaller, I might have put it closer to my face.  Since it was a dollar though, I can afford the occasional experiment, and have this for days when I feel like drama and excitement.

And with this flower, I've got sunshine on a rainy day....

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Head Covering as a Spiritual Practice: My Story

When I started wearing a kippah, it was a spiritual practice.  It made me more aware of my tefillah, it made me more aware of God's presence.  First, I wore a covering only when making brachot, studying, or eating.  The extra action made me more aware of each moment, of each blessing, of the presence of God.

Then I started covering all the time, and it brought a little bit of that awareness to getting dressed in the morning.  Whether I was wearing a kippah or a headband or a scarf, I was aware of having something on my head, and that would help me to remember why I did it.  It brought me more awareness of God, for a while.

It also brought me a lot of obnoxious questions and comments.  I've blogged about that in the past.  "You know that's not for keeping the rain off" about a kippah, and "when did you get married?" when I had a beret on outside, etc.  But the spiritual benefits outweighed the social annoyance, and the obligation to do education at any and all times, including while shopping for new bras.

However, over time, my awareness dimmed.  A kippah, or a scarf, or whatever I wore, just became something that I put on in the morning, just like a shirt, or socks.

And then I got married.  And I had a different awareness of what was on my head.  For a little while I was deeply aware of the double meaning of my new way of covering my head.  It was a thrill, because it reminded me that I was married (and of how wonderful my husband is, etc- I'm pretty sure that I was a quite typical newlywed).  It was also a reminder of the spiritual significance of covering my head, which I'd become sort of numb to.

Now, when I'm aware of anything, it's usually a social marker, what sort of Jew I look like.  And that's not nothing.  It is a part of my spiritual identity.  (Spirituality being generally defined as my connection to something greater than myself, to my community, to meaning, and to myself) But it doesn't help me remember God when I'm seeing a beautiful day outside, or when I'm spending time with the family of a dying patient in the hospital, or when I'm studying Talmud with my husband.  And that's an aspect of spirituality that I want to get from my head-covering practice.

So sometimes I think about that- and more often, I don't.  And I don't like that numbness.  That's Not The Point of this practice, or at least, not the only point.  I like that I look frum, I'm not going to lie about it.  But that's not the aspect of this that is foundational for me.

So I'm thinking about how to help myself remember.

Is covering spiritual for you?  In what way?  What keeps it fresh and meaningful?

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

A Shabbat Cover

Finally, I snuck in a couple of photos of some Friday night head coverings.  Here they are, all ready to be some inspiration.
 This one isn't anything too unusual, just a twist, with the back of the patterned scarf left loose.

And for another one, from when it was a little cooler out:
 This was just before a Shabbat at my husband's rabbinic internship.  (Hence the bedroom that is so very much not ours, which you don't see much of for a reason.)
 The jacket is a gift from my mother, the scarf, a gift from my mother-in-law.  A lucky match...

Being Seen: A Reflection on "My Fashion Choices—and My Husband’s—Reveal the Risks of Looking Hasidic"

A friend pointed out this article, in which the author compares how it felt to wear a wig on the train on her own, to do so in the company of her husband in Hasidic clothing, and  to wear a scarf on the train.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

What We Get Away With

I've never been the most meticulous about my hair maintenance.  I've had long hair since I was quite young, so I've never had the need for more than two or three hair cuts a year, just to clean things up.  When I was young and had bangs, my mother used to trim them up herself.  I've never dyed my hair.  I rarely used to put it up in elaborate ways- I've never owned a can of hairspray.  I certainly don't wash it every day- I never have.

But I have to admit, when I'm short on time, or exhausted, or whatever other reason, covering my hair makes it a lot easier to push the boundaries on when I wash it just a little further than I could when outside people saw more than an inch or two of my hair.

True, for a long time, I used to cover a little bit, and sometimes, when my hair really needed a wash, I would braid it up with a scarf or a cap, and ta-da, it hid most of the offense.  (In fact, I had my hair done that way, and for Precisely that reason, when I met my husband.  It's a good thing he noticed the lack of ring, and went ahead and asked me explicitly whether I was single or not.)  But I was also quite concerned with not looking married, so I couldn't do that too often...  It kept me responsible.

Now, no one outside my home sees what state my hair is in.  Sometimes, I get lazy.

How has your hair-care changed, since you started covering?