Something to Wrap Your Head Around

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04 Jun 2015
Arts & Media

two-webIt’s an educational forum. It’s a skills-building website. It’s a communal sanctuary to discuss the deeper, the spiritual, the real. It’s a sisterhood connector. It’s a morale builder. It gives options to the clueless, and inspires the doubtful. It’s a trend that’s not a trend.

It’s a revolution that’s been developing for the past few years, steadily gaining momentum. A “Wrapunzelution” they call themselves.

And, as a Jewish woman, if you haven’t heard of Wrapunzel: The Blog yet—brace yourself for a feel good, eye-opening and mind-stimulating opportunity within the realm of hair covering. Now that’s something to wrap your head around.

Wrapunzel creator Andrea Grinberg

Featured across Jewish media, Wrapunzel is a website dedicated to the married Jewish women’s mitzvah of covering her hair. With its beginnings as a musings for its creator, Andrea Grinberg, 28, a married Orthodox Jewish woman, on her personal blog mixed between personal anecdotes and recipes, the section dedicated to hair covering tutorials received a booming amount of attention, convincing her to create a blog dedicated solely to her holy hobby.

Together with friends across the Internet, Wrapunzel has become an online community for Jewish and non-Jewish women interested in covering their hair. The website, just as the mitzvah, is for women of all ages and hashkafas. Wrapunzel’s tone is warm and welcoming, encouraging questions to foster friendships.

“Style is not one size fits all and you have to find what colors and designs are flattering to your face shape and coloring,” noted Andrea. “The best advice for anyone considering covering their hair is to find support and not panic.”

Best insight to covering hair, Andrea says, is to enjoy your experience and allow the act of hair wrapping to be fun. “A woman shouldn’t feel oppressed. It should be liberating,” she added.

Judith Bernstein-web
Judith Bernstein of Bentonville, Arkansas

The year she turned 65, Judith Bernstein of Bentonville, Arkansas started to wrap her hair. A friend turned her on to Wrapunzel, and she used the videos as an inspiration. As a massage therapist, Judith’s wraps have become her trademark look for networking.

“If something comes out particularly lovely, I try to get someone to photograph me,” Judith shared. “I love the feeling of elegance, the creativity and finally the comfort of wrapping my hair. I love to accessorize with jewelry, long earrings and make-up.  I walk taller and do not have to worry about bad hair days.  Sometimes my head hurts, itches or sweats, and I have yet to figure out how to deal with those issues.”

Andrea and her diverse mix of friends—whom she refers to as “Lady Wrap Stars”—create video tutorials explaining techniques from the most simple of staples and up a few notches. Andrea has traveled to Jewish communities across the United States and in Israel for in-person consultations on best techniques. Her shows have become wildly popular across the spectrum of observance—from Borough Park, to Jerusalem, to Montreal, to St Louis.

Emunah Murray of Columbus, Ohio

During a Wrapunzel visit to Columbus, Ohio, Emunah Murray was assisted with choosing scarves and accessories, feeling like a queen in the process. As a professional in a law office, Emunah wears sheitels to work. “Learning about covering my hair in a beautiful and modest way with tichels freed me from the sheitel prison,” Emunah felt. “I always get a lot of compliments when I wear them.  I look forward to watching the videos and learning new ways to tie them.”

Andrea notes that “a lot of women see these crazy braids and crisscross effects we’re able to do with some practice and  think they can’t do that—but I’m telling you it’s like tying your shoes, as a kid it’s difficult and as an adult you don’t blink an eye,” she insists. “Once you master the basics, it might take some practice, but once you get the hang of it none of these styles should take more than five minutes to look great.”

Even at Wrapunzel events hosted within Modern Orthodox circles, Andrea tries to emphasize a sense of holiness—not focusing on the mitzvah of hair covering as all or nothing. “Some women find cooking for Shabbat is holy and they cover only while cooking for Shabbat,” she shared. “My role is not like a rabbi; my role is to be a friend.”

wives-webOn a given day, the Wrapunzel: The Fangroup Facebook  page, which boasts more than 2,000 members, will have women posting photos of their new ‘dos for feedback and compliments. It’s a forum to ask questions on hair covering experiences and best practices for techniques and budgets, to share life’s joys and challenges of a modern woman covering her hair.

“When you look at your scarves, they should give you pleasure. A woman doesn’t need ten scarves [or more] but you want to find some that make you shine,” advised Andrea. Women have an instinct knowledge of what colors look good on them—colors that speak to you—and a woman should wear scarves that speak with her and her personality, not simply something that’s “in-style” or “in season.”

Recently someone wrote on the blog as a color analyst, using charts to discuss how to tell which colors are most complimenting to a person’s skin tone or clothing choice. There are posts on best practices from keeping a scarf tied while exercising, to adding simple adornments to accessorize, to wedding-fancy styles, etc.

Recently women over the age of 45 have described how they’ve embraced scarves to complement their age.

Jocelyn, who lives in Chicago, had been covering her hair since she first got married almost 40 years ago. She wrote to Andrea, “I’ve never worn a wig—except for Purim—so hats, berets, and scarves have been part of my wardrobe for years.  I’ve worn scarves from the first day after my wedding and haven’t stopped yet. I must own more than 200 scarves of varying sizes, shapes, colors and fabrics.  I’ll admit there were times in the past when I wanted to chuck the whole thing but I got over it each time.  I knew in my heart covering my hair was the right thing to do.  I believe that many times people have treated me a little differently and acted—and spoken—better because of how I dress, including covering my hair.  It’s become part of my identity and as I get older and more comfortable with myself I’m less concerned with ‘looking different.’

I have very religious extended family.  I’ve gone to lots of weddings in New York where I was the only married woman (besides a very few who don’t cover at all) not wearing a wig.  My tichels have always been admired and sometimes a little envied.  Once a friend with older children and I were talking about head coverings. She doesn’t like the feel of wigs on her head and wears a hat most of the time.  But she said to me that when my children start getting married I will buy a wig.  She was so wrong.  With the first wedding I had a hat made and used the same hat form to make hats to match my dress when my other two children got married.  But scarves are still a big part of my identity.  I’m creative, so wearing the same style of wrap gets boring to me.  I love all the new ways to wrap that I’ve learned and have been inspired to try by Wrapunzel.  Thank you for your inspiration and encouragement.”

Judith Factor of Cleveland, Ohio, who will be 69 this August, writes that she has embraced her age and wrapping. “I so enjoy color surrounding my face and the creative expression wrapping adds to tnizus dressing. As a business woman, the statement wrapping makes is significant and I rather enjoy making that statement. I suppose this is the self-confidence that comes with age. I enjoy the daily compliments from my husband—we have been married for 42 years. When he sees me come down in the morning dressed for the office and his face lights up, if for that reason alone I would wrap.”

Andrea Grinberg-webOver the past year, Wrapunzel has begun selling scarves and accessories, although it’s a sidebar to the focus of embracing the mitzvah.

Check out Wrapzunel: The Blog. The Wrapunzel Fanpage on Facebook is for women only, with membership by request.

Below are some of Andrea’s favorite video tutorials from Wrapunzel:

The Regal Wrap

Double Braid Wrap

The Sari Scarf Wrap

Layered Shira Tails with Lace Wrap

The words of this author reflect his/her own opinions and do not necessarily represent the official position of the Orthodox Union.