Is my headscarf cultural appropriation?

  Harmony Headwraps  

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We hear quite often from people who would love to wrap, but who are worried that wearing a headscarf would be offensive, or would be cultural appropriation.

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The short answer is, no it isn't.

Even if you want to wear a headscarf just because you think they look beautiful, then that's fine. You don't have to be religious or have hair loss (and there are many other reasons to wrap, too) to wear one (or two, or three...!).

Humanity has a long and varied history of headcovering that dates back millenia. No one race, culture, country or religion owns the headscarf, and there are only a finite number of ways to wrap fabric on your head.

There are many European and UK headscarf traditions. Older ladies in Eastern Europe

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wear a babushka. Even Queen Elizabeth II wears a scarf in this way! (While not my style, I'd love to see the size of her scarf colletion!) In fact, she is never seen in public without a hat, scarf or crown. King Henry VIII's wives are six women with elaborate headcoverings. Medieval women habitually wore headscarves.

Here in the UK, it's only in the last century that women stopped covering their heads all the time in public. During the 20th Century, hats replaced scarves, but what is a hat if not an evolution of the headscarf?

Now, onto what is offensive. It's one thing to say anyone can wear a headscarf. It's another to say anyone can do so with no sensitivity to wider issues.  Anyone can wrap a scarf in a hijab style (the Muslimahs I know are very happy for non Muslims to wrap, and the style itself is not exclusive to Islam). But to wear a clearly hijab style scarf and pair that with very immodest clothing, or while getting outrageously drunk, is disrespectful.

Naomi Rose from Wrapunzel has a great discourse on this subject and she also touches on what is offensive. Dressing in a specific headcover on Halloween, wearing an orthodox Jewish outfit, a Native American headdress, or a burka, is disrespectful. It seems to be culturally accepted in the UK to dress up as a nun or a priest, but this too is equally as rude. If you're dressing in a meaningful costume for fun, or to mock, that's not cool.

But if you're wanting to wear a headscarf for genuine reasons, even if that's just because you love them, love how they look, and love how they make you feel, then go for it!

It still baffles us that some people have so much hatred for a piece of fabric on a person's head. We hope that the more people who wear wraps, the more headscarves will become normalised.

To quote some of our wise and diverse wrap sisters:

"No disrespect. We love company. I get excited [to see another hijabi] and hope they'll greet me."

"Every culture is built from others, back and back and back all the way to the first culture. They inspire each other and assimilate different practices for many different reasons. Many honour one another."

"Cultural appropriation is a legitimate conversation in some circumstances, but like most political correctnesses, it's often taken to eye-rolling extremes... Turbans are so near-ubiquitous in the world that if someone accused me of CA for a turban, I'd frankly just bust out laughing."

"It would be quicker to list cultures that don't have a version of wraps/turbans! I personally enjoy the connection with Britain of the past when women routinely covered their hair, and enjoy the connection with people around the world who do... As long as it's not a parody or exploitation, I thought the sharing of art and ideas between cultures and groups is a good and mutually beneficial thing that strengthens bonds between people and leads to human flourishing."

"In ALL European cultures people have covered their heads. The same style that my ancestors used has been used by women in North Africa. This style has also been named Jerusalem style tichel. People have lived next to each other for ages. Cultures meet, fight, mix, and trade."

So, if you're wanting to take the plunge, but worrying about cultural appropriation was holding you back, we hope this takes the worry away.

We'd love to hear your thoughts on the topic, too - please comment and let us know your thoughts and experiences. Has anyone said anything to you?

 


 

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