Monday, October 20, 2008

Wrap your head with this material....

Anyone who knew me a couple of years ago, or even a year and a half ago, knew that I was good for ‘rocking’ a head wrap. I mean the ones that shot straight up [think of E. Badu’s “on and on”] and pointed to Allah, saying “yes, I am a refined Queen”. But I transitioned out of head wraps over the last couple of years because I started to feel confined to a piece of cloth.

I started with the art of head wrapping when I became a citizen of the Nation of Gods and Earth [Five Percenters] at seventeen—dutifully wearing my 3/4ths (rockin three-fourths of cloth never showin' your stuff off, boo—Method Man) of clothing and keeping myself refined and fly. Moving from occasionally wrapping my hair to rocking 3/4ths and sporting head wraps as an everyday part of my clothing was something that transpired during my sophomoric and junior years of college.

An African Woman from Ghana first showed me how to master the wrapping of my head, but it was an elder in the Nation of Gods and Earths that help me put meaning to what I was doing. Black Women she told me, who were Earths” in the Nation of Gods and Earth were to cover every "curve on their bodies" including your hair, so your body could not be seen. So for most of us, if any part of the body was exposed---you wrapped your hair. If legs were exposed---wrapped, if your arms and/or legs were exposed--wrapped, if skirts were floor length and arms not exposed, you could wear your hair out. It was the “Queenly” thing to do…. because dressed in 3/4ths signified the beauty of an Black woman valuing herself and setting herself an apart from other Black Women by being an illustration of a Queen, an Earth.

In my senior year of college, I stopped building with the Nation of Gods and Earths, but kept the head wraps…also around that time, I picked up a Black feminist agenda and became a Women Studies major in college. But my head wraps started to become something very fetish-like to the White girls in my class, as one White girl said to me one day “I wait everyday to see what color head wrap you have on your head”. I eventually stopped wearing my head wraps and just let my naps be exposed to the world.

A couple of days ago, I found a bag at the bottom of my closet, with my colorful head wraps and I started to question why I had even stopped wearing them in the first place. Had I transitioned from Queen Mother Earth in undergrad to Black feminist academic Sistah in graduate school, where I NEED to actually show my naps on my head, because I was now in a place where acculturation looked good to even the most confident person? *maybe* Or, was I tired of the stigma attached to them (external representation of Afrocentricity—which I do not ascribe to)? *shrugs* Or, was it because of the rampant Kemars and Muslim Women in Philly that I wanted to distance myself from? *Nodding*

Although those questions may have had some bearing on my decision, I think the real reason I stopped wearing head wraps, was due to way that I got caught up with attaching “Queen” to a piece of cloth…it became gimmicky. Between the ages of 17 and 22, I kept hearing that real Queens never exposed themselves….real Queens wore their hair covered for their righteous Black man, (even though he never had a dress code)….real Queens never let their bodies be exposed to the White man’s eye…blah, blah, blah….it was like my crown or something…my cape… and if I didn’t have it on, my super Black Woman powers were juiced out….so the head wraps had to go, because if my self-worth was tied to a head wrap, then I was in big trouble.

But I say to the Sistahs that rock head wraps, keep rocking on (I may rock one tomorrow), but know that ¾ths nor a head wrap starts with a mental elucidation, nor does a mental understanding starts and then a head wrap follows…with or without the head wrap, we still can shine as beautiful Black women.




MB said...

wow sis! that's deep dish like a casserole! thanks for exposing me to something new.

Miss Kristia said...

hey ma, i'mma come in on this as an asian and specially filipina woman.

head wraps in general were not a common thing for me until i moved to ny and went to school upstate. in high school i'd work indian salwars occasionally, partially veiling. but in ny, i learned to veil in the winter. not for religious purposes in my case.
and i also found myself building a lot, on a whole other scale from my life prior, with black and brown women who wrapped up and covered their hair in different ways, for a variety of personal reasons.

before this i think covering one's hair was coveyed to me, in white society, as something desexualizing in a way. over time i began to experiment with it as another means of adornment. something else to do with my apperance. the whole while i had the privilege however of knowing that myhair type was priased by white folks.

i think in the early years i also saw it as a means of solidairty, and as a means to subvert white peoples' own racialization of my 'asian' body.

years have passed and i still use it as another way of adorning my head and hair. and other times, i hella just want my hair away from my face, i think it helps put me in a different mindtstate...

that always is the purpose of self-decoration, isn't it?

just wanted to chime in.

Theresa said...

Appreciations to you! I just stumbled on this site while looking for some instruction on how to wrap my hair more neatly. Your perspective and insight, as well as Miss Kristia's comment, has helped me feel more confident in wearing wraps when I want, as I want, because I want to. I live in Arizona (need i say more).

I have worn my hair in many ways and usually no longer than passed my shoulders because my hair is demanding. Being biracial my hair is somewhat schitzophrenic. In order to let my hair grow with as little fuss as possible, I dreded it. Now that it is passed my shoulders and cold outside, and to get it out my way, I found that wrapping is the best solution.

Knowing how I might be perceived and the comments I will inevitably come across, I feel so confident with how I will float on passed it all. One reason for that confidence is due to the fact that
the higher my wrap my hair (do to legnth), the more senual energy I feel. Not as a Black Queen, but as a My Own Queen.