One of the few cultural icons to survive the tribulations of the American slavery era, the head wrap has become a regular fashion statement for the African-American society. It has been in existence in the United States for many years, although mostly used by women of African descent.
The head wrap works best when it wholly covers the hair and holds it firmly in place as the ends are tied into knots on the upper part of the skull. This has made it ideal for covering natural hair. A trend that has been passed from generation to generation, the head wrap will most definitely maintain its popularity amongst African-Americans for many more years to come.
In the meantime, they are tied by a large number of the American population. The head wrap is no longer exclusive to blacks alone as people of different races and ethnicity have picked up the trend owing to its beauty and usefulness. However, it’s cultural significance to blacks remains a key factor in its popularity.
Head Wrap Styles
There are various possible ways to tie a head wrap; however, you should be aware of the two major styles and their cultural interpretation. The two major styles are the African style and the Euro-American style of head wrapping.
In the Euro-American style, a piece of fabric is folded to form a triangle around the head, with the narrow end along the jawline. The loose ends are then tied together under the chin while the untied section is allowed to fall over the back of the head.
On the other hand, the African style is quite different because it involves wrapping the fabric in a rectilinear shape across the head and tying the loose ends on the crown of the head, rather than under the chin. The knots could be tied on top of the head or by the sides depending on your preference. In this style of head wrapping, the forehead and neck are left exposed. A little psychological mind game may be at work here as any onlooker would be drawn towards looking up rather than down, just like one would when looking upon a queen with a crown on her head.
Tips on How to Tie a Head Wrap
Despite the popularity of head wraps amongst black American women, a good number of them are uncertain as to how best to tie a head wrap. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to make use of a head wrap in the African style:
- Step 1: A headwrap usually comes in a rectangular shape and has a right side and a wrong one. The first thing you should do is lay yours down with the wrong side facing upward. Grab hold of the short ends and place the flat end against your neck while you tie them across the crown of your head. Allow other parts of the fabric to fall freely from your neck.
- Step 2: The left side of the fabric should be folded across the center of the head. Fold the right side the same way and make sure it overlaps the center of the head.
- Step 3: At the fore of the fabric is a long end that can be moved with ease either by you or someone else. This part should be twisted toward the left like a tube of cloth.
- Step 4: The final step is to adjust the cloth tube into an upward position and tighten it around the head as you would a coil. After this, do your best to tuck it in and make your head wrapping as neat as possible.
Benefits of Wrapping Your Hair
Yes, the head wrap is a thing of beauty and cultural sophistication. However, it has various uses and benefits most especially for natural hair.
While asleep, the average woman does a great deal of moving around and for an African-American woman, the friction between hair and a pillow fabric could lead to breakage. A light head wrap could serve as a means to protect your hair from falling out while sleeping.
Natural Oil Distribution
Pillow fabrics have a tendency to soak up the natural oil in a woman’s hair, thereby causing dryness and itching, in most cases. Head wraps are quite effective in regulating natural oil content of hair and aiding in its even distribution.
All the hair kinks and bends that accompany everyday activities can be avoided with the use of a head wrap. They keep the hair in its natural shape and allows it to maintain a shiny appearance. Head wraps can also help tame the edges of your natural hair.
Head wraps are the best way to protect your hair in style. You could avoid damage to your hair and scalp that could be caused by sun, wind, and moisture. A head wrap will create more time for deep hair conditioning since head wraps reduce the need for styling.
African Head Wraps
It has already been established that head wraps for women in America originated from African slaves. In the African-American society today, different types of head wraps are used by women on a large scale. Perhaps the most popular of these fabrics has to be the Gele.
The Gele has its roots deeply embedded in the Yoruba tribe of Nigeria, West Africa. It is a piece of fabric that is flat and smooth to the touch. Worn as a means to complement African attire, the African head wrap can be tied in various levels and styles.
The African head wrap has left the African shores and has crossed over to other continents such as Europe, North America, and South America. In these places, it is not uncommon to find non-Africans wearing Geles while attending African events.
Head Wraps for Men
Women are not the only people who find head wraps fashionable enough to wear. However, the head wrap most used by men has to be the turban. A turban is a piece of cloth winding used as headwear.
In some countries around the world, the turban is a customary headwear. Customs that greatly encourage wearing of turbans can be found in some parts of Asia, the Middle East, and Africa. The culture has been adopted by men living in America and is becoming more popular by the day.
There are various uses of the turban and it has been a way to differentiate men of varying social status and cultural background.
For African American men and women, the head wrap is a great way to look amazing, stay fashionable, and remain connected to your African roots all at once. Over the years, slight variations in the fabric have been made and it is clear that the head wrap has come to stay.