Melissa is a Wrap Star!

Post by Melissa

Post by Melissa

One of our new favorite blogs is Wrapunzel – a great resource for hair covering ideas and inspiration, and one of the regular features is interviews and photos of women who cover in different ways.

I was honored to be interviewed and featured as this week’s lady wrap-star so be sure to hop on over and check it out!

Andrea (the princess Wrapunzel herself) asked some great questions for the interview, and I did my best to give thoughtful and insightful answers. There are also lots of fun photos for your viewing pleasure. 🙂

Headbands to Headscarves

As of this month, I have been covering my head in some fashion for five years! Those of you who have been paying attention are surely thinking “wait, Melissa hasn’t been married that long!” – and you are correct. Head covering was so important to me that I took the time to figure it out emotionally, spiritually, and physically in advance.

You see, I started the journey to covering my head once I knew we were going to get married. Though there was 18 months between the two, it was a very valuable time and growth experience for me. I always saw that one aspect of head covering was the visible distinction of being “off the market” for lack of better phrase. While no one would know that wearing a headband, ribbon, or wide headscarf  was for such a purpose – I did. The other driving factor was my propensity to headaches. I had to adjust to having something on my head and learn how to work that so that it wasn’t a headache trigger.

I started with cloth headbands and skinny fabric tied as a ribbon. Then I moved to wider pieces of ribbon and skinny scarves. Next was slightly wider scarves. Finally I reached the point where I was wearing scarves that mostly covered the entire top of my head or hats on a daily basis. The transition from that to a scarf which covered all my hair once I got my married was subtle, but vital. I had been building up my tolerance – emotionally, spiritually, and physically – over the past 18 months, and by the time I woke up and needed to cover it all, I was ready. I knew what I was getting into and was comfortable with my decision. Over the next 3.5 years. I experimented with how much hair I was comfortable having out and what sort of coverings worked for me. I’ve done chunky visible bangs to not a strand exposed, and everywhere in between. I wear hats, caps, berets, snoods, pre-tieds, scarves, and/or a sheitel. There is no one size fits all way to cover and my choice on any given day depends on where I’m going, what I’m wearing, and how I’m feeling.

I don’t know what headcovering will look like in another few years, but for now, I’m grateful for the past five years of experience and growth.

I now present a slideshow of a sample cross-section of my head covering styles over the past five years…

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Advice Five (Plus) Years In

post by Jessica

post by Jessica

In honor of a friend’s engagement (mazal tov!), I decided to write a post that I have been thinking about for ages, even before our five year anniversary. That’s right, R and I have been married for five years (and 4 months), and it’s been kind of a wild ride. Another friend, when talking about our marriage so far, said, well, you haven’t had a chance to get bored!  I think part of my reservation about writing this is knowing that not all advice is useful in every situation, and that my situation and relationship is different from yours. Not only that, this is clearly formed with the understanding that we are, as a family, very involved Jewishly. So, basically, your mileage might vary, but maybe this will be useful.

Dating and Engagement

You never know where you will find your person. And that person might not be exactly what you expect. We met because we were both Jewish students at school, but on the surface, we were not particularly compatible. We saw things in common that seemed to enable us to overcome our differences – one of which was our commitment to Judaism, living a Jewish life and raising a Jewish family. When we met, our definitions of those were different, but we knew it was important so we dealt with it – many difficult conversations followed. And once we decided we were going to go for it, we sought experiences that would help us become more like one another. Beyond our story, how many stories do you know that begin with “I never thought I’d marry someone who/like/etc.”

That doesn’t mean don’t be looking. Just be aware that it might not look like what you were expecting. Life is exciting and surprising.

I’m not sure if you “just know” that he or she is your person. But I did. I get this question regularly, and while being confident seems to be the norm, it doesn’t seem to be the only answer. But truly, the only person who can answer the question about your relationship is you. And it is a leap of faith. Lots of things in life worth doing are.

Engagement means things are real. Expect that the relationship will suddenly be much different very quickly. The stakes are much higher (even if the relationship was serious beforehand) and it will strain your relationship. Not only that, but it is the first declaration to the world and your family – which brings a lot of stress. Don’t be surprised, and don’t let it shake the foundation of your relationship – even as you are working towards understanding each other better.

Marrying Young v. Marrying Later

There is no magic age. R and I met ten years ago, and started dating almost eight years ago. Because of that, we have become grown-ups together. And that has had it’s difficult moments – we grow and change and have to figure out what comes next, together. We literally don’t know what our lives would be like without each other. And we’re okay with that. People who met later have to figure out how to mesh established patterns together. There is no magic age – just different issues and problems.

Creating Traditions

Understand where you both come from. Things that seem obvious to you can cause problems. For my parents, birthdays and holidays are something special – whereas, R’s family generally was much more relaxed about celebrating. Therefore, it was important for R to know what I expected, because it was so different from his family. And knowing what it meant in each family made it easier to plan joint events as well – fewer surprises for everyone.

Don’t wait, but don’t be afraid to change. That is, start figuring out your ways of doing things. For us, in particular, this means how we do Shabbat and holidays. This has changed with every year and every new living situation, but figuring out what makes us happy has really helped create meaningful traditions.

The Day-to-Day

Make time for each other. And choose to, again and again. Part of this “not being bored” thing I mentioned above means that our life together has changed a lot since we first got married. Each time, we have had to make the conscious decision about spending time together – either when we were working at Hillel and it was about making sure we had personal time and professional time, even as we were working together, or now, when we struggle through the difficulties of both being full-time students. More than that, it’s about making that decision every day, as new things come up. It’s always a balancing act, but an important one.

Sneakily Styling Scarves

I love scarves as headcovering on a daily basis, however I don’t like always looking the same. So while I have watched many a Style Underground video to get inspiration, I’ve also found a few creative ways to expand my scarf styling repertoire lately which I wanted to share.

My hair is roughly shoulder length, and grown out from a pixie cut so it still has lots of layers and thus doesn’t make a great bun or really give bulk on the back of the head for styling and generally not looking hairless under the scarf.  To combat this, I have started wearing a hair donut (shown to the right) under my scarf. I pull my hair up into a messy ponytail where I want to have the nice bun look at, and then simply place the donut around that pony. I don’t roll it all fancy like people who would use it properly do, since it doesn’t show anyway.  This gives the illusion of a fuller bun, and also allows some bulk on the back of my head. (These are widely available on amazon as well as drugstores, grocery stores, etc.)

Another side effect of my grown out pixie cut is an inability to form one solid ponytail, so I often wear a wig grip headband under my scarf which serves a double purpose.  It both helps my scarf stay in place without pins, and hols all my short pieces securely under the scarf too so they don’t become escape artists.

I also miss having a bit of volume in my hair, and one day while strolling along with a friend I saw some Bump Its on crazy clearance and I wondered if it would work.  Well, it does! You do have to style the hair over it otherwise the teeth of the comb show through the scarf, but its a great way to add some height to your look. It also allows me to do some of the fancier styles which you need a high ponytail to really bulk up. I mostly use the middle level of the three, it gives height without being so obvious. When I do this, I can also wrap headbands or second scarves better because you have more surface area on the head to balance it out. (These are all over amazon for under $2!)

Most simply though, I sometimes just tie a second scarf underneath to give some bulk and fullness.  If you want to have an extra touch of color, you can layer it so it sticks out or wrap the tails visibly, or if you want to be sneaky, you can wrap it totally underneath and only you will know.

What other sneaky tricks do you have to mix up your look for scarves?

I’m only going to say this once…

So listen (ok, fine, read) carefully.

I bought a sheitel.

Yes, you read that right. I’ll give you all a moment to catch your breath.
Proceed when you are ready.

I recently wore a horrible wig for a day (oh Purim) and I thought that ended my buried desire to have a sheitel as a part of my head covering repertoire. It was uncomfortable on so many levels, which I have already written about so I won’t recap. However, that Sunday, I had an opportunity to support a friend of mine who is a local sheitel macher (wig maker, seller, stylist extraordinaire) as she was hosting a large sale, and I knew I wanted to get a wig grip headband to wear under my scarves, as they have received rave reviews from many of my friends.

As I walked into my friend’s basement, the sight amazed me. There were wigs of every shape and color imaginable. I had no idea what I was getting myself into.  A few friends were shocked to see me, though they were quickly appeased with the statement that I was just there to support the host.  After spending some time looking at the wigs on people’s heads and on the tables, my friend S encouraged me to try one “just for fun.” So I looked for a bit and pondered, and somewhere in my gut I was afraid to try on the wig.  Afraid to see myself with “real” hair. So I picked up a wig and held it on my hand for awhile, until S came over and again, encouraged me oh so lovingly to try it on and offered to help me since I clearly had no idea how this worked. S and I worked together to get the sheitel on my head, and her immediate reaction was a huge smile and pushing me to the mirror.  Everyone in the room reacted similarly, even me.

I couldn’t stop looking at myself. I felt like me, but with hair.  The color and cut (even before it was actually cut right) were very reminiscent of how my hair often looked in the summer before I got married.  It was beautiful without being too much.  Just a simple, classic Melissa look. I started freaking out.  I could see myself attending community events and weddings of non-religious friends in this wig.  I could imagine going to the fun young-adult events I have so often avoided because I didn’t want to deal with the inevitable awkward looks at my (often gorgeous) scarves.

The girls encouraged me to go upstairs and see it in the light, when I hesitated they reminded me that my head was in fact covered and we all laughed.

As I walked up the stairs, my good friend Talia had arrived.  She looked up from setting down her purse and with a shocked but happy expression she cried out “Oh! Its you!” You see, Talia immediately saw the friend she had met three years ago, a week before I got married. I made her take a photo which I texted to my amazing husband.  After texting back and forth, while I watched lots of women try on lots of fantastic wigs, my husband came over and met me outside to discuss the wig which I was rapidly falling in love with.

For those of you who are long time readers of the blog, you know that my husband is Sephardi and the idea of wearing a wig has long been a pipe dream I thought would never be actualized.  So the fact that he came to talk to me while wearing one was a big step.  Being the amazing husband he is, he reminded me that it is my hair and my mitzvah, and that while he doesn’t particularly like wigs, he understood my reasoning for wanting one and supported whatever decision I wanted to make. We didn’t dub ourselves Sephardekenazi for no reason – we each have things we cling to of our minhagim that the other doesn’t do (ie, he eats kitniyot and I still don’t).

I went back inside and had a small breakdown. I just couldn’t believe this was happening. I couldn’t believe that I, the girl who doesn’t wear wigs, was thinking about buying a wig.  My friends were extremely supportive without being pushy and in the end, they said some very inspiring and true things which helped me make my own choice.  Options are never a bad thing, so while I intend to still primarily live in scarves, I am excited to have another option.

I didn’t have buyers remorse at all, just a lot of shock and awe and I found myself saying “I just bought a sheitel” to Talia a lot the rest of that day.  Over the last two weeks I have slowly told a few friends who I knew could understand and be supportive, and eventually got to the point where I was ready to share this news with you all. Getting it cut and styled also helped make it more real, as did wearing it out for the first time.  I am slowly learning to love this look and get excited to have it as an option for the times where having a scarf feels more immodest as it draws significantly more attention than the incognito factor a great wig provides. I am also happy to announce that it did not irritate my head at all! Being pain free after 7 hours of wear and not having to futz with it at all is also pretty impressive.

Oh, and I suppose you want a photo huh?

Post by Melissa

Please be nice, this was a very difficult decision to make and I’m still in shock, though very happy. If comments are nasty, I will not approve them. Its my blog and I’ll moderate if I want to 😉

Talia wore a Tichel!

As I mentioned in a recent post about my Purim wig wearing experience, my good friend Talia got to be me for a day – headscarf and all. While I was wigging out (ha!) about the feeling of hair and interesting reactions, she too had an interesting reaction.

Here is just a brief excerpt:

I arrived at Mel’s house at 7:45 am. She was dressed as me and I was dressed as her. Her husband had a good chuckle at us and we went to work. We picked out jewelry and then got down to the good part. I had to pick out a scarf to wear and she had to get her brand new wig situated. Yes wig. My dear friend, who hasn’t had hair graze the back of her neck in more than two years, purchased a ‘lovely’ (read: cheap) red wig to mimic my hair. We dissolved in giggles and I helped her position it. Then it was my turn. We picked out a lovely plain brown scarf and then a fun, silky giraffe print scarf to top it off. She put it on my head and tied it for me…

WOW.

I went from wacky single to mature married lady in one quick tie! It was a complete change for me… I felt different. Modest. Amazing. We drove to work and stopped at a fruit and veg mart to get some goodies for our co-workers. I felt funny… oddly conspicuous and inconspicuous at the same time. For a minute I wanted to shout… “THIS ISN’T ME! I’M NOT MARRIED YET!” but I also wanted to revel in the respect people paid me. More than anything… I started getting a crick in my neck! I felt like I had a work of art on my head and I couldn’t move.

Its funny how different reactions can be. For more of Talia’s – check out her full post on Talia, She Wrote.

I’m wearing a wig!

Yes, you read that right – Melissa, the woman who doesn’t wear wigs, is wearing a wig.

Luckily, its just for a Purim costume and I shall return to the world of scarves tomorrow, but for today I am be-wigged – and its weird! Aside from the obviously very different look, it feels weird physically, mentally, and spiritually.

@thdpr and @melschol - but who is who? (Post by Melissa)

The first question I’m sure you have is – what were you and what did the wig look like? Well, thats simple.  My dear friend Talia and I decided to be each other at work. We wanted to celebrate but also be work appropriate, and so a brilliant idea was born.  We wore outfits that were totally how the other dresses (and each other’s work name tags just to clarify), but the crux of it was clearly our “hair” – my be-scarfed head and her beautiful red hair are quite distinct. So today, I am wearing a wig. I’ll be back later to reflect on the experience!

***

Ok, it is now motzei Shabbat, and the wig has been packed away and I can take a moment to reflect on the experience.

Overwhelmingly, I just didn’t feel like myself.  Maybe it was that the color was so far from my own, but I think it was more that it just didn’t feel true to who I am and my ideals at this point in my life. Plus, I was super freaking hot! I honestly felt like I was over heating all day, and while it was unseasonably warm, it was still only  ~65′ – I can’t imagine having it on in 85′!

The biggest shock to me though was number of comments I got about how pretty/beautiful/etc I looked with a wig on and subsequently “why don’t you wear a wig.” While I so know that our society values hair as beautiful, it was still striking to see how much it really affects people’s views of each other.  That having on a (very cheap) wig made such an impact on my appearance that people felt compelled to comment as amazing to me. So, while my vain inner voice said “what, so I don’t look pretty normally?” my rational voice reaffirmed the sephardic reasoning for not wearing a wig, and my overall non-sheitel status. (Though ironically on Sunday I am attending a Sheitel Sale, though that is primarily to support the friend hosting it and to get a WiGrip which I have heard such amazing reviews of but would love to try on before committing to.)

At the end of the experience, I am honestly so glad to be back to my scarves and hats, though I do have an increased appreciation for women who wear sheitels daily and there is still the lingering inside me to own one for fancy events.  However, I am sure all I will have to do to sway myself back to reality now is to remember how hot I was and how uncomfortable I was with people telling me how good I looked. For my physical, mental, and spiritual well-being – I really need to stick to scarves.