When I sighted (came to the knowledge) of RastafarI some years back my life completely changed. At some point, I'll talk about how that came to be but today I want to talk about an outgrowth of RastafarI: my appearance. For many years now, I have embraced modesty as the ideal for a RastafarI woman. What that means is that in public my hair is always covered (and if we have non-female visitors at the gates), wearing long skirts exclusively, and putting on no makeup amongst other things depending on the Rastawoman you ask. The point is that doing these things, we declare our rebellion and separation from the Babylon system which emphasizes and exploits a woman's physical body and her sexuality.
I've come a very long way these past few years and while I still identify as RastafarI, I'm hesitant to place a label on myself. After all, trodding in RastafarI, you come to find that there are so many different interpretations and understanding of what the trodition is and of who His and Her Majesty are and of what repatriation and Africa represents, it's difficult to point to something and say, "Yup, that's RastafarI." It used to be that you could see a bredren with bongo natty and say, "One blessed Love" with a hand over your heart and be greeted in kind. These days, you might get a bewildered look.
In any case, it's fairly easy, generally speaking, to tell a Rasta sistren because of how she looks, particularly because she would have her natty wrapped up usually on the top of her head or have some other head covering to cover her natty. (She might be wearing red, gold and green buttons or pictures of His and Her Majesty too.) If you've been following this blog since I started it last year, you know the struggles I have had with my hair. It has been kind of traumatic in ways that I can't fully express but that have to do with not being able to physically manifest such an important symbol (to me) of my spiritual trod: dreadlocks. When I started to lock up after I sighted FarI, I was determined to have 7 big congo natty locks like Samson. (Babylon take that!) Never happened. Right now, I have not one lock. I wear a low boy (took it down from a caesar) and I can't imagine ever attempting to lock up again. It's difficult, to be sure. I so would like to rock a lovely wrap full of cascading, organic locks. I've crocheted so many lock caps and custom hair nets for sistren and bredren with waist long (or longer) locks. I've looked forward with sincerest anticipation to the day when I'd be crocheting my own. I chuckle because back when I was brand new to Rasta, I would stuff my wraps with fabric just waiting for the day, faking it till I made it. These days, I hardly bother with intricate wraps (although recently I've started making the effort again) and I'm finding it even harder to keep up a Rastawoman appearance.
In snow, it's much easier to wear pants when slinging around two kids, stroller, diaper bags, etc. It's easier to wear pants if I'm going to be sitting on the floor at story time or chasing my babies around the playground. Since I spend most of my time doing these things, it's easier to wear pants all the time (not tight fitting or form revealing--just comfortable, loose style yoga pants or wide leg style pants--I'm still not interested in letting everybody see what I've got going on--Honor).
While I don't wear makeup at all, I did go back to painting my toenails. It's something I was forbidden from doing as a child/teen but ended up loving to do. I like to keep my feet looking nice and polish on the toes seems to complete this. Newly sighting Chi-Chi would have frowned heavily on pant wearing, nail painting Chi-Chi. Her brows would have furrowed all the more because she's considering wearing foundation again, from time to time.
And this brings me to the main point of this post . . . I just cannot seem to get comfortable with going outside my gates (house) without something covering my head. Because of my scalp issues, yet unresolved, wearing wraps or hats causes me a fair amount of itchy discomfort. The hubby has even encouraged me to stop . But honestly, I feel bare. Naked. Strange without something on my head. I guess it just became a part of me, covering my head, and I can't give it up. Not to mention that I still am self-conscious that I might run into a bredren or sistren and they would see 1) I have no locks and 2) my head isn't covered. What would they think? (I know, I know, it doesn't matter what they think but in a trodition where it's important to "rep" if you will . . .well, it still kind of matters to me).
I mean, these days I'm equally as likely to toss on a beret or a skull cap instead of actually tying a headwrap. I mean, I have lots of headwraps, mainly cotton gauze and cotton printed African material, but lately I've been lazy about tying them (although since I know I actually look more royal with one on I've been making more of an effort of late). That means that even if I'm with my Kingman (aka the hubby), it's not likely that other Rasta people will hail (greet) me or even acknowledge me, I guess, assuming I'm the baldhead the Rastaman is dealing with. I've come to terms with that and it doesn't sting as much as it used to. Of course, I'm keenly aware these days that a headful of locks doesn't mean anything right off the bat . . . that locks don't confer any kind of spirituality or consciousness and neither does a big, colorful African headwrap. I know others have realized that too. Yet, I'm still not ready to cast off the whole head covering altogether though. I'm not sure if I ever will. Even though it's not the rebellious statement it used to be.
Oh, the hubby is a skilled barber and he keeps my hair looking neat. But I still have traction alopecia at the edges, I'm not comfortable all the way with short hair and, most importantly, I'm not at ease when my head is not covered in public. So you'll rarely see the hair cut. Heck, I'm not 100% comfortable rocking pants in public but I'm also practical.
Anyway, the issue of modesty for women crosses many religious and philosophical traditions and is especially interesting to me when considering the perspective of women whose appearance immediately indicates their trod (which is not necessarily the case in the RastafarI trodition).
The Benefits of Hijab
The Public Face of Our Nation