The head wrap probably has as many names as there are ways of tying it. Whether you call it a head wrap, turban, scarf or even gele (Nigeria) or doek (South Africa) the idea is the same. You cover your hair with a piece of fabric. There are different fabrics and ways to tie a head wrap all over the African continent as well as in the African diaspora. Wearing a head wrap is nothing new, but it became more mainstream in the late 1990’s thanks to African- American entertainers like Erykah Badu and India Arie. Not only is it worn by Africans on the African continent but it has become a popular accessory in the African diaspora as well. It is a great way to hide a bad hair day (or that you are deep conditioning your hair) but it’s also a great fashion accessory. The options are endless with different fabrics such as bright colored wax print and traditional African cloths as well as scarves bought in big department stores. The size of the fabric you use determines how big your head wrap will be as well as how many options you have to tie your head wrap. You can also buy fabric for head wraps made in a size that suits use for a head wrap on different web shops online. Some tailors that make clothing in African fabrics will also give you a matching head wrap if you buy let’s say a dress or a skirt made by them.
Wearing a head wrap in a country like Sweden sometimes attracts quite a few looks from strangers and at times some questions. Questions like, “how do I get it to stay on my head?” and, “is it hard to tie into place?” sometimes accompany curious looks. I mainly wear a head wrap when I’m feeling uninspired when it comes to my hair. I love how versatile and easy it is. I can go from wearing a neutral color like black or gray as a small bun behind my ear or I can wear it in a colorful wax print fabric in a big beehive style. And every time the style comes out a little different.
Wearing a head wrap sometimes brings on comments like “African queen” or “African sister” from other people of African descent. This is something I perceive as being a sense of pride to see another person of African descent wearing something that most of us link to the African continent. Many of us have grown up around mothers, aunties and grandmothers that wrap their hair and for us, this reminds us of home. I also like to compliment women when I see them wearing a beautiful head wrap. There is something regal and empowering about it.
For more head wrap inspiration check out the Wrap Life or just use #headwrap on social media for endless inspiration.