clothing · culture/multiculturalism · fibromyalgia · hair · Hispanics/Latinos · Jews/Jewish/Judaism/Orthodox Judaism

Non-Jewish Latinas Rocking Head Scarves!

“Urban Outfitters Finds Frum Inspiration?” talks about how head scarves have suddenly gone hip, even hipster…and not just on the heads of Orthodox women.

Now, this head scarf innovation isn’t new. I should note that I’ve seen many non-Jewish women, particularly black women, wrap their locks up in elaborate head scarves. Just walk around Harlem and count the head scarves. I even know a young woman who is in the conversion process who was wearing head scarves long before she decided to convert and for some reason, always seems to find the coolest ones to don over her afro. (Not to self: Some of us are born with fashion sense…and less recalcitrant afros. Also, if I can offer some advice, if you have dark or olive skin, RUN, DO NOT WALK from the head scarf colors you see on your pale friend’s head.)

This week, one of my favorite magazines (don’t judge, I’ve been reading it since I was 10 years old when I decided I was going to become a movie reviewer/entertainment writer/screenwriter/TV writer), Entertainment Weekly recently DISSED Jennifer Lopez recently for donning a headscarf on a recent American Idol episode. What the…I was enraged! Okay, not enraged really. I mean, I was reading it on Shabbos and I try to stay cool on Shabbos even if I’m saddled in bed all day with pain. In fact, I think I was reading it while icing my joints and I even fell asleep with it on my chest. Don’t know if this says more about my magazine subscription or my fatigue this past week.

ANYWAY (can we get anymore stream of consciousness here?), let me explain. I was pretty upset because of all the kinds of head coverings, my all-time favorites are tichels (aka head scarves)–after Parkhurst and Rastafarian berets–was being called a fashion faux pas! Oh no, they didn’t!

I didn’t really discover tichels until I was in Israel the summer before I converted. Before that, I’d been in Modern Orthodox synagogues where women wore sheitels (wigs), headbands, doilies or nothing at all. But in Israel, I proudly wrapped my afro up in tichels daily to keep the Jerusalem heat at bay. Even when people joked that I kinda looked like that alien from the Alien movies the way my hair stuck straight out, I wore my scarf. Even when an elderly Conservative Jewish lady accosted me after a class and told me I was being oppressed and setting back feminism for all-time.

Sadly, those days are long gone now that the doctors have finally figured out why head covering finally became so unbearable–it wasn’t just the fibromyalgia–that even once I had discovered head scarves and berets that fit my head (duh, extra large!), many are now in a pile collecting dust in my closet or passed on to very excited newly married friends and cute little girls who like to cover their hair as they play Shabbos Ima (Mom). I like to think someday I’ll be pain-free enough to steal my aforementioned  in-the-process friend’s scarves. In the meantime, I live vicariously, especially through those wearing those 1920’s hats that would only fit me if I shaved my head bald. (I actually am pretty close to bald now, from afro to less than pixie, which is easier on my hands and for my facial/head/neck therapist.)

Fans following my newly restarted fan page and Twitter account note that I completely disagreed with Entertainment Weekly‘s assessment of Lopez’s look. In fact, seeing J. Lo (can we still call her that?) in a headscarf made me think that she looked, well, pretty Jewrican (a Puerto Rican Jew!). My Jewish (thanks great-great-grandma) and Puerto Rican (thanks great-grandpa) would be so pleased at my mixed cultural pride.

And as if all of the pieces of my identity hadn’t collided enough already in this post inspired by insomnia, I love this Latina magazine post: “Fashion 101: J. Lo’s Love of Head Scarves”. Unlike Entertainment Weekly, they LOVE the headscarf look! And as “Is that J-Lo Style?” My Journey to Haircovering” on, covering your hair apparently isn’t just cool now, it’s “kosher cool.

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