Wearing Headwraps and Natural Hair

lady wearing green turban

Headwraps and turbans have been in fashion rotation before Erykah Badu stepped on the scene in the late 90s. Her fashion look was captivating. The unique, earthy, regal, and natural look was just in time for the era. She adorned beautiful textiles wrapped around the shape of her hair, her locs. For me, her crown (head wrap) is what stood out the most. 

Erykah Badu “Tyrone” source Youtube

Those with locs, afros, big chops, and natural hair started covering and wrapping their hair. The culture embraced wearing bold colored clothing, mixed African print fabrics, jewelry with crystal and copper metals, and incorporated Egyptian symbols (the Ankh) into their jewelry pieces. Fashion was shifting for my generation. 

The influence she had on the culture, (inserts “ME”) is paramount to my story. 20 years later, here we are in vibration.

The cultural renaissance of the 1990s shifted us into the natural hair movement, where the hair culture started to morph into the confidence trial period. Out the window with bone straight hair and into the front door with the textured hairstyles of locs, braids, twist, fros, and natural hair.  20 years later, here we are in vibration.

Navigating hair decisions isn’t an easy task, but seeking solutions as you figure out what’s next is not something that comes overnight. Well, unless you are tempted to get a buzz cut (done that too)! Sometimes these decisions are short-term, temporary, and long-term about what to do with your hair.  20 years later, here we are in vibration

I’ve been creatively incorporating scarfs, headwraps, and turbans as a short-term style or in-between hairstyle decisions. Using various textiles or fabric material based on the occasion has kept my head and tresses warm and cool, while also acting as a protective covering. I’ve been able to rock my headwrap crown with confidence during my casual days in the office or wearing a fancier turban for a special event.

Turban/Head cover from Imani Aisha’s Art of the Headwrap

The various weather elements can play an essential part in the care of your tresses. Just like that, the DNA of protecting our crown continues to live in many ways.

Before my headwrap was in vibration, I made a life-changing decision. I took my power back. 

I stopped perming (straightening) my hair.

Cutting out the chemicals from my own creamy crack tresses led me to discover the many lessons of relearning what to do with my hair in its natural state (chemical-free, the way it grows out of my scalp since birth).

I did not have a plan about how I would navigate my hair journey without a bone straight perm, but what I did have was an idea.

 Doing something with my hair was unfamiliar because my parents did not give me full autonomy over my hairstyles. I watched many hairstyles across TV shows and magazine covers that would influence the experimental chemical encounter my scalp would endure over those years, while the hairstyles from the African American Women in my village at school and home painted visuals onto the backs of my eyelids.

My route of resistance came when I tried my hand at loc’n my hair. The journey led me into a self-discovery period of experiencing the unfamiliar texture of my follicles, as my hair had been full of chemicals since I could remember. 

After cutting my locs and uncombing them.
Source: Imani Aisha

This new hair or let’s say my original texture before the millions of chemicals was thick and strong, kinky and soft, and not completely straight. I had been led to believe that it was unmanageable without the aid of creamy crack perms. 

I hear my mother’s voice in my head, as she would always tell me that “she was trying this product to grow my hair, or this product to thicken it.” The empty promises left me a bit disappointed because I often admired the lengths of my cousin’s hair. Their ponytails were always shoulder length, as the other girls in school. I just wanted some longer hair, the kind my mother was promising.

I am still wondering where was the product to lengthen my hair. She should ask for a refund because it never happened. My hair stayed the same length majority of my childhood. LOL

My natural hair journey was a research project, an experiment during my newfound freedom. I could see just what would happen by unfollowing what my mother did with my hair. This was simply leaving it alone and chemical-free.

20 years later, the vibration I single-handedly witnessed the growth of my tresses past my shoulders for the FIRST time in my life. The pigtails, turtle plaits, and perms never provided this length of growth. I became reacquainted with my hair texture and I loved it.

My new autonomy allowed for the exploration of natural hairstyles that piqued my interest, as well as learning to creatively incorporate headwraps into my seasonal headgear rotation. 

Finding inspiration in Erykah Badu’s headwrap style was another reason to compliment the fashion style I was discovering. I’d use colorful sarongs as a headwrap over my newly, budding locs that were often hidden from the eyes of the public.

Underneath, my hair was taking its journey of winding itself coil by coil. My hairstyle secret was a mystery to the public eyes. At home after work, in the privacy of my home, I would unwrap my hair and let it land where it lay. I’d take time to examine the length, oil it, palm roll it, and stare in amazement. My hair was officially in what was called “dreads” at the time. 

Now that I think about it, none of the women around my childhood had worn headwraps nor “dread” locs. The most I’d seen a scarf touch their heads was when someone was covering the rollers in their hair (as a protective measure). Sometimes we wore scarves at nighttime to protect our freshly done hair. There’s a whole scene about this in the show Insecure. I only saw loc hairstyles in Jamaican music videos or some random person I passed by in the shopping mall.

Back to my story

During the stage where my hair length had grown about 4 inches, I found creative ways to use a scarf or turban. I would dress my head up by using georgette types of hijabs. The material was soft and flowy like chiffon. These hijabs (scarfs) were traditionally worn differently than the creative way I folded and placed these around the exterior of my locs.

Styling my headwrap this way did expose my hair and allowed it to breathe.

After Erykah Badu’s entrance into the music scene, the headwrap became part of my lifestyle. I’d closely watch Black hairstyles even more now that I’d let go of putting perm chemicals into my Black hair.

When in public places, my headwrap and my locs had many encounters with either stares or compliments. Sadly, I even experienced being asked to remove my headwrap before. (At the airport. At the Motor Vehicle Office) I am happy to report that I resisted and persisted in reclaiming this part of my DNA.

Until recently, a new law around hair discrimination is being passed for the first time in the United States. Out of 50 states, only 13 have enacted the law. The state of California is the first place where The CROWN Act was created in 2019 by Dove and the CROWN Coalition, in partnership with then State Senator Holly J. Mitchell. This law was put on the books to ensure protection against discrimination based on race-based hairstyles by extending statutory protection to hair texture and protective styles such as braids, locs, twists, and knots in the workplace and public schools. 

Sadly old American Laws implemented hundreds of years ago still creep systematically into all places seen and unseen, that today, a whole new law called the Crown Act is made to undo them. Meanwhile, in my backyard, St. Louis, the bill is sponsored by Missouri State Representative Raychel Proudie and most recently the state of Missouri is discussing the anti-hair discrimination bill in more detail as I write this blog post. 

Today, the growing attention to black hair and hairstyles has continued to be scrutinized in the workplace, school, and some other public places, but as we move past Black History Month, also the start of year three of the Pandemic, let’s not forget to sign The Crown Act. PLEASE. Share this blog post and ask your friends to sign it too.

As I purposefully reflect in this month’s blog story post, I stand today in awe of our continual influence that unfortunately disturbs others, yet proudly belongs to us. I stand in awe of the resistant DNA that runs deeply in the veins of Wild Women. The ingenious ways Black hair and natural hair protective styles have played in the journey can be traced back to when braid patterns hid our food. .

May we continue to boldly explore, experiment and stand proudly of our untamed glory, our crowns.


If you or your loved one is interested in learning about our private styling sessions, group workshops, and programs, please contact us today.

 P.S. I send a personal birthday shout-out to Erykah Badu also.

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