Ready? Then let’s begin.
My Head Covering Conviction
Yes, it was all very well to decide to wear a dress and an apron, but after I felt called to simplify my dress I thought “I will never cover my head. That would be too extreme, even for me.” Well, never say never. In the spring of my first plain year I was looking at modest clothing websites for a sunbonnet as I am fair and prone to burning and don’t like to put sun cream on my face. Plus, if I’m being honest, I had a crush on Holly Hobbie as a kid. I came across http://www.plainlydressed.com/ and while looking for a sunbonnet stumbled upon a picture of a plain soft muslin cap and my heart did a summersault. All of a sudden I felt flooded by the most peaceful feeling and the thought that I really wanted to wear that prayer cap. My hair had become a real struggle for me since I went plain. As some of you know I cut my own hair. Daily. Obsessively. And I have a real problem with checking my hair out to see if it is still sticking up in a punky way in every mirror, window and reflective surface. And all the dampness of England meant my hair wouldn’t stay punk and I was constantly fiddling with it. I think the lowest moment was when the Amazing Spiderman caught me checking myself out in the back of a spoon. Oh the shame of it. It had become a real burden for me and I saw that cap as a way to lay that burden aside. So I ordered two (one to wash and one to wear) and began wearing them on a daily basis. I wore them faithfully for many years.
This summer I noticed they were looking a bit tatty so I needed to decide what to do. First I had to decide if I still needed to wear one. So I asked myself these questions:
1. Was I still obsessed with looking at my hair? Not so much. The head covering really helped me to not think of my hair as an accessory, but as the stuff that grows out of the top of my head. When I wore it I looked neat and tidy without having to fix my hair constantly.
2. Was I still having hair cutting obsessions? You bet your sweet bippy. Perhaps even more so. The cap was meant to be worn with long hair pulled up in a bun. My hair is short and thin and didn’t really fill out the back part. Any bit of hair sticking out, particularly at the fitted neckline, really bothered me because it looked scraggly and I cut. So much cutting. Lots and lots of cutting. It probably is a fair guess to say that I may have cut a bald spot from time to time, but the Amazing Spiderman refuses to comment. So one improvement, one backslide.
3. Did I want to continue with the same style? Tricky, that one. I had lots of good outreach with the Muslim students I teach. They saw me as someone like them: someone who loved their God enough to wear something out of the ordinary and not be ashamed. One student in particular who just started wearing a hijab last year at the age of 10 said with wide eyes when she first saw me wear it, “Oh, we look like twins!” and was forever talking to me about the practicality of head covering and how we looked alike. But I wasn’t as keen on the style. The fitted back and my lack of long hair was an issue as well as the ties. I really hated them tied under my chin but letting ’em hang loose meant always getting tangled with my backpack straps.
4. What effect did a covering have on me? I really liked the feel of a hat on my head. The feeling of weight. Like a gentle reminder to think before I spoke or acted. To keep my head about me when all others are losing theirs. To be a symbol of my faith in God. To set me apart as a believer and empower my Muslim children to be strong in their faith which in turn strengthens my faith. So yeah. I needed a new hat.
So, I did some research (thank you Google) and again the perfect example appeared before me. A mob cap. Worn in the 18th century by respectable married women, but by the 19th century worn mostly by the servant class. But a mob cap! Betsy Ross wore a mob cap. Mob caps are cool. So I dug around in my handy-dandy box of scraps and found enough fabric to make two. Traditionally they were white, but I cannot for the life in me keep anything white clean so mine are black.
So that’s the story of my clothes and my hair and how I (mostly) beat my obsessions and how I learned to stop worrying and love the bomb. Or something like that.