“The headwrap originated in sub-Saharan Africa, and serves similar functions for both African and African American women. In style, the African American woman’s headwrap exhibits the features of sub-Saharan aesthetics and worldview. In the United States, however, the headwrap acquired a paradox of meaning not customary on the ancestral continent. During slavery, white overlords imposed its wear as a badge of enslavement! Later it evolved into the stereotype that whites held of the “Black Mammy” servant. The enslaved and their descendants, however, have regarded the headwrap as a helmet of courage that evoked an image of true homeland-be that ancient Africa or the newer homeland, America. The simple head rag worn by millions of enslaved women and their descendants has served as a uniform of communal identity; but at its most elaborate, the African American woman’s headwrap has functioned as a “uniform of rebellion” signifying absolute resistance to loss of self-definition.” – an except from The African American Woman’s Headwrap: Unwinding the Symbols by Helen Bradley Griebel –> http://char.txa.cornell.edu/Griebel.htm
A “uniform of rebellion” – how powerful is that?
I started wrapping my hair about a year and a half ago, but had no idea of the history behind the custom. I simply started doing it because I found it to be CONVENIENT, regal, classy, and bold. Since I’m all about expressing myself through fashion, I started experimenting with my bevy of neck scarves.
Initially I wrapped my head because I had a slew of errands to run and needed to get out of the house asap. I couldn’t conceal my freshly washed natural fro underneath any of my many hats (trucker hats, fedoras, applejacks, baseball caps – you name it, I’m a hat girl) and needed another option so that I could go outside while looking presentable. I thought about photos that I’d admired of my mom, aunts, and women on the pages of Essence magazine with their heads wrapped. I decided to try it out for the first time one autumn day in Queens and have been doing it ever since.
Although the majority of my headwraps are scarves, I do sometime use creativity. I want you to know that you can wrap your head in scarves, dresses, tank tops (or wifebeaters), cardigans, and tees. A little ingenuity goes a long way!
The shirt I used in the photo above –> http://oldnavy.gap.com/browse/product.do?vid=1&pid=898490072
Where Do I Purchase My Scarves?
I’m often asked where I get my scarves from, so here it is. First things first, I think I should focus on the type of scarves that I use to achieve my look. I go for perfect squares or elongated rectangles. As mentioned above I also go right in my drawer and use other garments of clothing as well. I try to lean towards cotton scarves (so my hair can breathe) and polyester/cotton blends because I find them to be light and airy.
I tend to gravitate towards scarves that have pops of color as they are usually the focal point of the ensemble that I am clad in. I like subtle prints (often animal print – cheetah/zebra), floral designs, and solid colors (bold hues of blues, greens, black & white, and neutral earthy tones – as the latter two colors go with just about everything).
The majority of my scarves are from H&M, Forever21, and local beauty supply stores.
A Few Scarf Options
Although I’ve never used a tutorial video (I just experiment along the way), I figured I’d share a great video tutorial for you to experiment with. –>
There you have it. I hope I’ve inspired you to step outside of your comfort zone and experiment with headwrapping. Find a scarf and method of headwrapping that works best for you and let your beauty shine through.
Until next time friends,