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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Review: SuperSlip by Shell Sheli

I was recently contacted by one of my favorite online shops for modest layering pieces, Shell Sheli, to review their new product: the SuperSlip. As a tall woman, I can definitely appreciate the idea of a skirt extender, though I was a bit hesitant to accept the product as I am so tall, I feared it still wouldn’t work for me. After some very nice and informative emails, I agreed to test this new and innovative product for you all.

Here is the basic info:

The top is a smooth polyester slip to lay flat under your skirt without adding bulk.

The bottom 8″ is made from a thicker material to extend the line of your skirt.

It is 26″ long and held in place with a thin elastic band which allows you to comfortable wear it at any point to make it the perfect length.

It comes in A-line and Pencil shapes to meet the needs of your wardrobe.

 

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When my package arrived (quite speedily!), I was eager to get a good feel for these innovative slips. I tried one on under my comfy skirt just to get an idea, and it was love at first sight.

Post by Melissa

I wore the a-line slip under a skirt to work on Thursday, and the pencil slip under a summery dress on Shabbat.  The pencil slip was worn in place of a jersey knit layering skirt, and was a very different feeling.  It stayed in place better while walking, and was also much lighter – such a great alternative for summer! Both days I found myself to be extremely comfortable, not having to mess with my skirt or be self conscious. While I had to wear them down around my hips in order to be long enough, it didn’t bother me at all.  I also pulled it up to wear high for a test to see around the house, and that was also comfortable.  The diversity of these slips is amazing. The only negative I can say is that it did shorten my stride – though that isn’t inherently a bad thing, sometimes its nice to be forced to slow down a bit.

For a limited time, use coupon code “blossom” and save 15% on your order, and if you are fast, you’ll have them in time for Pesach!

Note: I received both slips for free to review, however I did not receive any additional compensation. 

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 😉

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.

Modest dress, Modest life

On Friday, my Facebook Newsfeed was flooded with an Op-Ed piece in from the New York Times, by Rabbi Dov Linzer the Rosh Yeshiva and Dean of Yeshivat Chovevei Torah Rabbinical School.

The opening startled me.

Is it possible for a religious demand for modesty to be about anything other than men controlling women’s bodies? From recent events in Israel, it would certainly seem that it is not.

Really, Rabbi Linzer? You’re taking that route? I was shocked, but kept reading.  As I read more, it became clear that the emphasis of that statement was the it would seem.

After describing the recent events in Beit Shemesh, Rabbi Linzer reminds us that this comes from a deep concern about modesty.  However, he does not stop there, he expounds on this by saying the following:

But the Talmud, the basis for Jewish law, offers a perhaps surprising answer: It places the responsibility for controlling men’s licentious thoughts about women squarely on the men.

Put more plainly, the Talmud says: It’s your problem, sir; not hers.

At this point, I silently cheered. (Ok, maybe not so silently.) It is not every day you hear (or read) an Orthodox rabbi speak out in this way – echoing what so many women have been saying all along.

I was excited as I kept reading, and I couldn’t help but have a huge grin on my face all day after I read his closing point.

Jewish tradition teaches men and women alike that they should be modest in their dress. But modesty is not defined by, or even primarily about, how much of one’s body is covered. It is about comportment and behavior. It is about recognizing that one need not be the center of attention. It is about embodying the prophet Micah’s call for modesty: learning “to walk humbly with your God.”

I have made this same point since I embraced modest dressing a few years ago.  It is not about how much is covered, it is about how it affects the rest of my life.  By dressing modestly, I put myself in a different place in my interactions with the world.  I find it empowering to take control of my body and how I present it to the world in a positive way, and I make the choice every day when I get dressed. By dressing modestly, I remember to live modestly – which at the end of the day is the most important part.

I want to reiterate what I said about it in my interview for The Tzniut Project:

 

Tzniut tends to be most commonly translated about modesty in reference to clothing. I think defining it down on this level does an injustice to tzniut and people who uphold the ideal of modesty. Personally, I believe that the most important component of tzniut is how we carry ourselves, not how we dress ourselves. Holding your head high with confidence, without boasting. Being a good person and friend, without advertising that you feel you are such. Lending a hand when needed, without making a big show about how helpful you are. That is the inner-modesty which is so much more valuable in today’s society. While how we dress should reflect the person we are on the inside, should a woman’s skirt length be more important than living a modest life?

So I must say thank you and chazack u’barcuh (lit: strength and blessings) to Rabbi Linzer for saying so publicly what  modesty is really about and shining a positive light on this great mitzvah.

 

Q&A: Baby wearing and head covering?

Post by Melissa

A good friend recently asked me the following question and I knew I had to come ask you all:

A friend of mine who likes to baby wear also covers her hair (scarves, generally). But kiddo is starting to pull. Any tips/tricks to keep head covered against baby hands?

Since I am not yet a mom, I am able to be intentional in my head coverings when I am going to be spending prolonged amount of time with kids.  I tend to wear the beret style hat/snoods which are easily adjustable as they get touched and pulled. However, I know many moms who wear tichels full time, so there has to be a trick, beyond just waiting for them to learn not to touch.

So dear readers, do you have any insights about how to keep little hands away from a covered head?