Head Wraps and Culture: What You Need to Understand

Head Wraps and Culture: What You Need to Understand

Head wraps have been around for thousands of years, but how much do you know about them?

A beautiful hair accessory and handy for keeping your locks in place, it's no surprise that hair wraps are popular. But as an item that also has a lot of racial and religious connotations, is it right to wear one to look good?

If you have head wraps, it's important to know when it is appropriate to wear them and how they can be used.

Find out more with our guide and make sure your hair always looks great without offending anyone.

The History of Head Wraps

Before diving into how to wear a scarf in your hair, it's important to know that there's a lot of important history attached to this item. It's much more than just a fashion item; it's a cultural symbol that has deep-rooted connotations that every person who wants to wear one should know about.

In fact, the first recorded use of head wraps is actually back in the 13th century. In an Assyrian legal document, the first mention of wearing a head wrap is seen. In this society, the scarf is an indicator of how eligible a woman is for marriage and her social status.

In this time, wives were made to wear a scarf or veil, whilst prostitutes, slaves, and lower-class ladies were never allowed to. In fact, if they did they could face a death penalty. In Western culture, that practice is of course very old fashioned, but the scarf still carries the weight of its previous uses. 

Headscarves, wraps, and veils have been used throughout history to indicate social or religious status. In fact, it's likely they were used long before this first record, and they'll carry on being used for many years to come. 

Head Wraps and POC

For people of color, head wraps have a long and complicated history. They've been celebrated, used as a symbol of freedom, and as a staple in wardrobes across the world. But they've also been a sign of oppression, racism, and hatred.

They were first used as part of the traditional dress for African women. It was invented by people of color but was quickly used by others for more sinister purposes. 

One of the reasons that head wraps are culturally significant for people of color is their use in the slave trade. When white people were conducting the buying and selling of slaves across America and Europe, a lot of slave masters used head wraps. In fact, they made it compulsory for black women who had been enslaved to wear one.

The purpose was to keep away lice and grime, whilst protecting the scalp from the harsh sun. But they were also a symbol of ownership and oppression. They were a way to highlight how inferior slaves were at the time, and yet another rule forced upon these people. 

At the time, black women managed to turn their headscarves into tools for liberation. They used them to communicate with one another, using the folds in the scarves to convert secret messages. 

Since then, the head wrap has become a symbol of liberation. in the 1970s, it was embraced as part of the Black Power uniform and used as a sign of rebellion. The scarf was embraced and celebrated for its cultural roots, taking the power of it back and giving it to its rightful owners. 

Can White People Wear Head Wraps?

A lot of white people look for ways to wear a headwrap, but with such a complicated history it's hard to know whether they should wear them at all. Traditionally it belongs to people of color and wearing one could be seen as cultural appropriation. 

As a white person, it's best to avoid wearing a head wrap out in public in the Western world. If you're in a place where a head wrap is culturally appropriate or you should wear one for religious purposes, then definitely do! You can also wear one in the comfort of your home to keep your hair in place or dry it, but don't take it outside. 

It's respectful to leave this historic item of clothing to the people who were both forced to wear it and used it as a sign of liberation. It's part of the identity of people of color, and that's not something that a white person should take lightly. 

How to Wear a Head Wrap

If you're looking for ways to wear a hair scarf, check out these ideas that are using head wraps for black hair.

If you're wondering how to wrap hair at night, both white hair and black hair can benefit. You can use a Turbie Twist hair towel to dry your hair as you sleep and keep it in place overnight. These are super simple to use and ideal for being worn at home. 

You should also use a silk pillowcase to keep your hair protected overnight. These soft cases help reduce frizz and tangling whilst keeping your hair damage-free.

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