6.15.2011

Unhatted

* green jersey dress- H&M * nude flats-- Steve Madden * white woven belt-- UO * silver Eiffel Tower necklace-- gift from hubs * white tank-- Target * lace earrings-- gift from hubs * huge bun-- all me *
A pretty standard summer outfit for me, with one big difference that long-time readers have probably already noticed: for the first time in three years, I'm outside without a headcovering.

The choice to uncover was not an easy one, nor am I sure that I have fully decided. After the ninth day of my cluster headache a week ago I simply could not (or would not) add to my chronic condition with the daily dull ache caused by my hats, wigs and scarves. Though I had anticipated re-evaluting my covering practices upon moving and starting my graduate program in the fall, my choice suddenly seemed self-evident. I walked out the door, bareheaded.

It is strange to have dreamt about something for so long and to feel so ambivalent about it once getting what I thought I wanted. Certainly I feel free in a way I haven't felt in years. The image reflected in a store's window looks like me, something I felt I had lost with the berets and scarves and wigs. I haven't felt the familiar shadow of pain dulling my senses, something to which I had grown all too accustomed. I can put my hair up, a simple pleasure that is especially sweet as the temperatures rise.

And yet, I feel as though I have given up something important. Observing Jewish law is a huge part of my life, and I do not take its abrogration lightly. It feels awkward to run into people I know and wonder if they notice the absence, to wonder if they think I simply do not care. Can I replace the hat with a tattoo telling observers how hard I tried, and how I agonized over the decision?

I am not ready to say I do not cover. I am not willing to give away the myriad of options and accessories I've collected over the past 3 years. I may wake up tomorrow and choose to simply bear the pain and my misgivings with my appearance. Perhaps in certain situations-- at weddings, which are religious functions, or when in synagogue (outside of a service, for which all Orthodox women wear some form of cover)-- I will choose to don a symbolic hat in respect of a tradition that no longer features in my daily life.
 I'm not sure, and that is ok.

20 comments:

Anonymous said...

The way you feel about your unhatting is the same I feel about my unpantsing.
Even three years later I still can't come to say oh, I don't wear pants anymore.
They are all just sitting in my closet virtual untouched besides for being tried on every blue moon.
As much as I have been shown and discovered skirts are the best for me I just can't make the commitment .

Katie, Interrobangs Anonymous said...

You're approaching this issue with such sophistication and consideration - I'm immensely impressed. Good luck as you continue to explore where you want to reside along this continuum.

Zoe said...

You look unreal, and more importantly, really happy. 

Amanda said...

Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this challenging and thoughtfully arrived upon decision.  :)

Jess said...

I loved reading this entry, Nina. I can only imagine what a struggle it is to even consider drawing back from your religious practices, but I appreciate that in terms of physical pain, sometimes you may feel the need to bite the bullet and go without a headcovering. And it's so okay to be in flux, finding the right place in your life for your menagerie of head accessories! We all go through these periods of indecision and reevaluation, and I think you're doing so in a very smart way. & I'm glad to hear that your headache has subsided somewhat.

On a lighter note: is your scalp less hot now? Also, I adore that dress on you, it's extremely flattering and a great colour :)

Erica Ricks said...

I empathize how that is such a huge decision. I appreciate your honesty about this and hope you can feel peace with whatever you choose. On the light side, you look great in this color! You look fantastic!

North Meets South

guest said...

I was starting to wonder if it was normal that i have felt ugly every day since i have been married. I want to look like a real girl again so badly.

Thanks for being so courageous and making it easier for the rest of us. I tip my (ridiculous looking) hat to you. 

Ilona said...

Kudos to you for your honest post! I can imagine it's awkward to run into people you know in the beginning, but I hope you can take your time anyhow to experiment and find out what's right for you. Because it just sounds natural that you don't feel certain about it during the first days. "I'm not sure, and that is ok" sounds very wise to me - I wish you all the best for your decision!

Anna said...

As a reader it's not my place, really, to congratulate you or otherwise, because it's your (carefully-considered) decision, and nobody else's. But I just wanted to say that your thoughtfulness and candour is really impressive.

Shey said...

I can totally, tottally relate to you Nina! I didn't wear head scarves or covered my hair but I followed multiple dress codes like not wearing jewelry, pants or make-up and where TV and movies were strongly pleached agaisnt. I did it for three years and when I made the choice to change it was very hard, I was afraid people were going to see me as a backslider for not following the dress code. After feeling that freedom I feel like myself again, there's no longer the feeling that I Have to follow a certain dress code because I have to. I didn't go all crazy after the change, nor my faith changed in fact I think it helped me grow in it because I think I was a little resentful for not being able to wear or watch what I wanted to. So anyways, you have always been an inspiration to me and this changes nothing, you are a beautiful girl with or without your head coverings but let me tell you, no one wears hats like you do, you look super cool in them and you inspired me to wear them and got lots of compliments on it. I love how you are wearing your hair up, you look gorgeous!

Drew said...

That dress looks great on you! Very cute. 
The amount of thought you've put into your decision to uncover for the time being is impressive. I can understand the pull of looking like yourself and being able to wear your hair however you want. As someone just starting to experiment with covering that is all not so long ago for me and everyday it's hard to say, "No, I'm going to put a hat/scarf/pre-tied on my head." Somedays I utterly fail and I walk around feeling like I should have taken the extra 5 mins to pick out a head covering and put it on. (It takes me awhile to tie a scarf) Not to mention I worry about sending mixed messages about my practices at this point. All of that being said, your health comes first and if your headaches subside by uncovering then it's the right thing for you right now. 

This Good Life said...

What a brave and difficult step you took! I have my own headcovering journey and do not cover at the moment either and have also worked through feelings of ambivalence. If your decision to not cover is pain-related, maybe consider using these type of coverings? http://www.coveryourhair.com/Wideheadbands.html Unlike the tichels, they never gave me the 'dull pain' that you describe. They might not cover in a machmir way, but if you follow Dat Moshe rather than Dat Yehudit, then this might be good enough for you. They are really very comfortable and not tight. I'd always keep them in place with some bobby pins and they didn't 'pressure' my scalp. Also, they tend to be widely available in normal fashion stores.

Of course, if you decided to uncover for religious/philosophical reasons and are not looking for an alternative, ignore the above :)I wish you so much luck. And tznius is so much more than a headcovering :)

Bivrachah,
This Good Life

alltumbledown said...

I'm definitely less hot, though I do appreciate the magic of a great straw hat to cover summer frizzed up hair.

Allie said...

I'm impressed. (Both by the clothes and the thought you've put in to covering.) I'm covering for now (I still can't say if it's permanent), but I totally understand the back-and-forth, although obviously I'm not coming from the same background. There are still days when I look in the mirror and thing, "Am I really doing this?" Heaven only knows.

I also like that you said you're not sure and it's ok. It definitely is. And it's very cool to hear you say that.

Intrinsically Florrie said...

That must have been a hard decision to make, but I completely respect what you've said. As I chronic headpain sufferer I also understand what it feels like to not want anything extra adding to the pain.
You look absolutely beautiful in that dress!

Florrie x

This Good Life said...

Oh, that's really unfortunate :( What if you'd remove/sever the elastic. Would that help?

I look forward to sharing your modesty journey. I think there is so much more diversity to 'intentional dressing' than we think :)Shavua tov, bivrachah,This Good Life

Abby Klein (Rosenblatt) said...

I get cluster ("suicide") headaches as well.  they are the worst pain I have ever felt, and i have given birth so i have some idea what pain is.  I also have a hard time putting on my wig when I have one, so i definitely understand what it feels like.  it just makes the pain that much worse, when you thought it couldn't.  I hope you feel good, and happy with whatever you choose :)  BTW you look fabulous !

Jess said...

Oh boy, don't we all? Especially now that temps are 90+ in a lot of places!

a vulpine heart said...

kol hakavod, really. REALLY. really. i agree with everyone who has said that your candor + thoughtfulness are impressive and more indicative of your aishes chayil.ness [it's an adjective now] than any rote rule.following.

Maria Shavzin said...

You look radiant here. Its not so much what you are wearing as...something I can't put my finger on.

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