The first moment I saw Heather’s glowing face when she posted a photo on the Wrapunzel Store facebook page, I was bowled over! Her smile! The infectious love for hair covering! Wow! Who is this woman? A few photos later and it was more than clear that she had to be a Lady Wrap Star on this blog! I was also very curious to hear her story and get to know the woman behind the smile! Well, thankfully she was happy to share with us! Let’s hear it for Heather!
I wasn’t raised frum. I was barely raised with any real Judaism at all. My idea of Orthodoxy was full of misconceptions and stereotypes galore. In my own naiveté, the idea of hair covering brought up images of women shaving off their glorious locks, only to deprive them and their husbands, and made me cringe. When my mother, a”h, learned I was becoming frum, she initially cried thinking that I would also do this. I assured her that this wasn’t the case.
When I got engaged, I struggled with the idea of covering my hair. My hair was my most prized physical possession. It was long and red, and k”h, pretty amazing. So what changed my mind?
I was teaching at NYU at the time and living on the Upper West Side. While I was waiting on the subway platform, someone came up behind me, and raked his fingers through my hair, from the nape of my neck to the ends and then just walked away. I never saw his face. Of all the parts of me to be groped on the subway (and as New York women know, unfortunately that happens) he chose my hair. I immediately called my husband (then fiancé) and told him what happened, and we both decided that Hashem had just sent us a message.
That doesn’t mean that it was easy for me. I started with berets (it was the 90s, and that was the cool thing) and moved on to hats of all sorts. When I started teaching at the Yeshiva of North Jersey, I chose a sheitl because that seemed to be the thing to do. My main problem was that I would have to cut my hair to fit under the wig, and every time I did it made me sad. Wrapping allows me to keep my hair as long as I (and my husband) likes.
One of the reasons that I became frum was that I craved a connection to the past. I tried to connect to the generations before me, all of whom lived a life of Torah and mitzvot. When I came across the Wrapunzel website, the first thought was that the Imhaot did not wear hats and they certainly did not wear sheitls; they wrapped their long beautiful hair. I could imagine them wrapping, and showing nothing but their beautiful shining faces, and I wanted to emulate that.
Truth be told, my husband was not initially a big fan, as he loves my hair, and for him, a sheitl is as close as you can get in public. But what I told him was this: The hair is for us, but the cover is mine. He couldn’t argue with that.
I spent (spend) many hours watching Andrea’s and Rivkah Malka’s tutorial videos, and they are beautiful. They are always smiling and glowing, and there is no way that radiance shows with the distraction of a sheitl. To each their own of course, and there are some beautiful sheitls out there, but there is nothing like a wrap to show the true beauty of an Aishes Chayil.
Heather Okoskin Benjamin