Summertime challenges with hair covering


I’ve been covering my hair for almost 6 years.  Truth be told, it was a bit of a struggle getting started since my husband wasn’t really on board with the whole concept of covering hair after marriage. So, I didn’t push it and after our wedding, I didn’t cover my hair. About 6 months after our wedding, my husband told me that he was okay with me covering my hair. I remember being so excited when he got on board with it!

The next day, I went into town to a hat store that sold different types of head coverings. And, I was like a kid in a candy store. I tried on hats and berets, half scarfs and full scarfs, fedoras and even some snoods. Since it was February and quite chilly, I decided I liked the whole beret look. I liked the way it felt on my head, and how it looked on top of my straight fall.

I convinced myself that covering my hair was going to be super easy, and for about 4 months it really was. Until I encountered my first Israeli summer covering my hair. The beret and fall combination was just way too hot for the 90+F heat. I started searching around for a hair covering I could wear that didn’t require a wig underneath. And, I settled upon the colorful bandanas that I could wear with my hair up in a ponytail or wrapped tightly into a bun.

But, after 6 years of the summer bandana being my staple, I’m finally ready to admit that it just doesn’t work for me. Somehow, on my head, it makes me look like I’m either ready to go out and milk a cow, or that I’m about to perform as one of Tevye’s daughters in Fiddler on the Roof.

If I’m really being honest with myself. I don’t just dislike the way I look wearing a bandana, I miss my hair. I miss walking around with a nice blow out, running my fingers through my straight hair with the sun beating down on it. And, if you know me at all, you’d realize how shocking this is. I have spent YEARS fighting with my hair. I was born blessed with curly, frizzy, light brown hair. I’ve spent majority of my life fighting my hair in its natural state. I’ve cut it short and grown it long, I’ve had bangs and layers. I’ve highlighted, straight out dyed it, and chemically straightened. I’ve been blonde, blonde with brown highlights, brown with blonde highlights, brown with red highlights,  Goth black, and last year – on a whim – I went black with purple streaks. That little experiment was just an absolute disaster.

In high school and college I would fantasize of the day when I would be married and I could wear a really, really nice straight wig and be done with worrying about my kinky, frizzy, curly hair. And, I am lucky that I own a really, really nice wig. But, living in Israel, my nice wig is worn only during special occassions like conferences, work meetings and weddings.

I remember laughing when we learned the Halachot (laws) of hair covering after marriage. My hair, I exclaimed, was not a body part that was particularly attractive to men. Especially not in its natural state.

I have never had a man come up to me at a bar to tell me that he had to buy me a drink because my hair was so gorgeous.

I’ve never had a man tell me that he wishes he could spend hours just running his fingers through my hair.

I’ve never had a man turn away from me because my hair was just too darn beautiful to look at.

But, even though I didn’t think that my hair was particularly beautiful, these days, I absolutely love and miss it.

So yesterday, when I was so frustrated with my bandanas that I just threw them on the floor, one by one, I stopped and considered walking outside sans covering. Of course, I totally chickened out.

Instead, I grabbed a pink baseball cap my in-laws bought for me while they were on an Alaskan cruise. It was 95 degrees yesterday and, when I walked the couple of blocks to gan to pick up DD2, I was sweating. By the time we got home, my hair was drenched and my face was bright red from the heat. Baseball caps just won’t do in the Israeli summer heat.

So, I’m at a crossroads. Do I continue wearing my coolest (in terms of weather, not style) option of the bandanas and just not care that I look like I’m about to go to work on a dairy farm, or do I search for something new?

Truth be told, it’s starting to be really difficult to keep my hair covered when I just don’t like what looks back at me in the mirror.

Most days, I feel like I want to just rip off my bandana and let my Jewfro hang out.



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6 Responses to Summertime challenges with hair covering

  1. Jen says:

    This was a fascinating piece for me to read. Though Jewish and living in Israel, I am pretty far from getting why women cover their hair — i mean intellectually, I understand it, there are laws — but I still don’t get it. It’s just not a space I grew up in or have experienced at all save for my interactions with observant women here in Israel.

    So allowing me a little access into your emotions, your experience, was eye-opening for me. Thank you! I’d be interested in hearing more about your experience as you move through it. And I hope that as you move through this period of questioning, you do so easily, and are able to come to a comfortable conclusion.

    • holylandhipstermom says:

      Thanks for your comments! It means a lot; hopefully I’ll be able to figure things out soon!

  2. Mrs Belogski says:

    If you’ve got the time and patience to experiment, there are some great websites with haircovering suggestions, pictures. videos, etc. Try and if you fancy videos with music (!)

  3. You went blonde once?! Really? I’d love to have seen that. As for head coverings – you look fine in the scarvesnas imo. I squirm with discomfort when I see some of the heavy head coverings worn in the sweltering summer heat. My suggestion would be much larger cotton scarves that you can wrap around, mix two colors together, have a bit hanging down the back (or not), etc… These are some of the coolest summer head coverings I’ve seen. I’ll try to find pictures and show you.

  4. Melissa says:

    Can I just tell you that i absolutely LOVE your writing?? hipstermom…your pieces are so readable, honest, and not flowery. Love it. As you know, I definitely had this struggle…and ultimately opted to stop covering my hair (although i still do so at work and at shul, obvi). It was a super personal decision for me. So far it’s working for me, and you’ll have to see what feels best for you. As I’ve told you before, my reasons were the following: 1) I too missed my own hair 2) I’ve never liked the milkmaid, either, and baseball caps make me hot and zitty 3) As someone that never did (and never will) make the leap to stop wearing tank tops and shorts, let alone pants, it seemed that letting it go wasn’t that much of a stretch. 4) I’m ashamed to admit this one, but….as much as I’m pretty firm in many of my observances (I still consider myself an Orthodox Jew) – I didn’t want to go around looking like one. I wanted to blend in and let my religious core and practices be part of who I am, but not show on the outside. 5) running around in flip-flops, short, and a bare ponytail is just ME. It’s always who I’ve been, and who I will always be.

    So, as you can see, for me it felt right. It’s also a function of a latest religious struggle, and rebellion against a community that I don’t feel 100% comfortable with.

    Whatever you do, ultimately, will be the right decision for you.

    • holylandhipstermom says:

      Thanks for your comment! It really helped me hearing your own experience, and why you made the decision to stop covering your hair. Funny, but I was itching to cover because I felt I was being treated differently at Bar Ilan. People were confused when they met me, when they noticed my wedding ring they would almost get annoyed because it wasn’t so obvious that I was married. As soon as I started covering my hair, I felt I was treated almost better on campus. I think if I were living in Manhattan, I might feel the same as you. The need to blend in has always been a thing for me. But it’s a whole different rule book living here in Israel 🙂

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