What called you to wrap?
I'm not sure "what" called me to wrap. I come from a Christian background, and live in an area where most people are Christian or at least believe in/ are agnostic about, some kind of divinity, so the short answer is that I wrap because God told me to. Not long after I had to press battery charges against [someone I knew] for sexually inappropriate behavior, I was in a college religion class studying hijab and that inner voice (you can call it intuition, or being laid on your heart, or feeling called, or insight, or whatever fits your worldview) said, you should try that. So I wore a very poorly done hijab style to school the next day, wondering what people would say. Nobody said anything, and I have been wrapping ever since.
What are your personal feelings on wrapping in relation to modesty?
After I started wrapping, I started gravitating towards more modest dress. It just felt wrong to *me* to wear sexy stuff while wrapping. As I started researching wrapping and wanted to dress more modestly, I looked to religion for guidelines as to what was considered modest. There really is no concrete Christian standard, although various denominations may have community norms. Orthodox Judaism and Islam are very specific. Judaism requires coverage of the collarbone, elbows, and knees, and some women don't wear pants in public. Islam generally requires coverage of everything but the hands, feet, and face in public. A lot of Jewish ideas resonate with me, so I started trying to follow their guidelines. It gets really hot where I live, and while maxi skirts are easy to find and super comfortable (I wouldn't go back to wearing jeans just for practical reasons) shirts with high necklines and 3/4 sleeves are not. I was never really into mini-skirts and shorts, so I continue to wear skirts that come to below my knee, and I decided that some kind of sleeves were appropriate and no cleavage. So I started with basic religious guidelines and have modified them as necessary to fit my own needs, as I am not a member of those religions. I have started trying to wear longer sleeves as often as possible, because I have photosensitivity, and there is a huge overlap between modesty and sun protection! I just hate the layered look and would like to wear the breezy, strappy dresses that are so popular here in the summer...
I never intended wrapping to be a feminist statement, but I think no matter what one's reasons are for wrapping, it is a feminist statement. It is impossible to avoid other people's perceptions because most people associate wrapping with religion unless someone has cancer, and they associate women being modest for religious reasons with submission.
There is no way to separate it from the idea of being forced to cover, and from women having the right to cover if they choose and not be seen as oppressed, as both things exist in the world. I think these are important things that need to be discussed whether one identifies as Feminist or not (upper-case F to indicate the feminist movement rather than just basic ideas of equality.)
As already indicated, I have a history of trauma. Wrapping gives me a feeling of protection from others around me and helps me feel comfortable doing things like going in the grocery store, etc. I guess it has become a bit of a security blanket, because as I have healed from the trauma, I have become more flexible about wrapping. I still wrap mostly full time, but I've noticed that in circumstances where I feel extremely safe, it isn't a big deal if my wrap falls off and I need to put it back on. Occasionally, if my husband will be with me the entire time, I will only half wrap.
Once, while doing acroyoga in a park (we go to the same park every week and it has a special energy not all parks have) my wrap came loose, then I got distracted and forgot to put it back on. I was with some very close friends, so it felt okay. It also keeps me from feeling bombarded by other people's energy, loud noise, etc. that can make me feel like I am being physically attacked. I hate that we can have a fight or flight response while fully knowing that there isn't actually any imminent danger!
Is wrapping a form of empowerment?
Wrapping can be a form of empowerment. In some places it is used to disempower women, but in Western societies women's bodies are highly sexualized. Women are objectified and more value is placed on appearance than on character.
A favorite blogger of mine started a hashtag, #nothereforyou because of the number of comments she gets on her appearance, often negative. It's like people think your body is public property, there for their viewing pleasure.
Wrapping takes the focus off a woman's sexual worth and redirects it to what she is saying, to her dignity, and her value as a person. It's a sad social statement but since I have started wrapping I am treated more respectfully and taken more seriously. Women deserve respect whether they cover or not, but wrapping definitely reinforces for a woman the idea that she has control of her body and can decide who she shares it with and how much.
Hmm... I'm not sure if it is wrapping, getting older, or a response to trauma, since they all happened at the same time, but since I started wrapping and dressing more modestly my sexuality has become a much more private thing.
When I was young, sexuality was a bit of a power trip. I think this is fairly common when girls discover how powerful sexuality is in many ways, and that they can use their appearance to mediate this power. Now, I don't necessarily see myself as less sexual, but I feel much more in control of that power.
I think Judaism has a point about married women covering. It seems very much fitting in the Mother stage of life, while not being necessary for the Maiden. It feels like an expression of femininity that deals with dignity and strength more than ostentatious display. Like old aristocracy vs. nouveau riche. I will find out how it feels for the Crone when I get there...
Yes. Wrapping has been a journey that has helped me to grow, heal, and continue to be more deliberate about many things. I first started wrapping out of obedience to that inner voice. After I started wrapping, I started studying. One overarching theme I came across in many wisdom traditions is the concept of boundaries. Making space for a couple, apart from the world. Making space within a relationship, to exist as a person.
At the time that I started covering, the person I wanted to share my body with was refusing sex, and someone who had no rights whatsoever decided to take something that wasn't theirs. Wrapping brought back a sense of bodily autonomy.
While I was examining my reasons for wrapping (I frequently get asked why!) I came up with reasons like keeping my own energy in and other people's energy out, the mental health aspects discussed earlier, a physical reminder to keep my mouth shut, that not everything is for everybody, etc. About 3 years after I started wrapping, I was sitting quietly and the phrase "he restoreth my soul" came to mind and wouldn't leave. I pondered that for awhile, and realized that wrapping had indeed restored my soul by setting to right those broken boundaries and giving me back a sense of bodily autonomy.
Without wrapping, I may still be stuck on things in the past, rather than being able to move on and have the blessings that have come with that healing.
Thank you, Evie, for your openness and wisdom. We are blessed to have you as a member of the wrap community.