(This is the first in a three part essay on headcovering for women, written over the course of a day.)
I was just in a class where they were talking about diversity. The presenter brought up the idea of different cultures from the US, using the Middle East as an example.
The presenter (a white woman, probably in her 60s) was speaking about how women cover their hair there. She said that some women from the Middle East who move to America don’t cover their hair here because they become “more modern”.
I winced when I heard her say that. It sounded so negative, so pejorative. As if covering your hair is archaic and backwards. As if covering your hair is primitive. I decided to wait until the end of class to speak with her about this, in part out of respect for her position and in part to not embarrass her.
I told her that covering your hair is not a sign that you aren’t modern. I said I have a lot of friends to cover their hair who were very modern. Now, I did not have my hair covered at the time. Currently, I only cover on the Sabbath, but after this experience I kind of want to cover more often. I considered covering that day but I didn’t. Would she have said what she did if I had been wearing a tichel?
I said there are various reasons for women to cover their hair. She on her own suggested modesty. That is a very important reason, but it is just the start. I didn’t feel like going deep into this, but I wanted her to think about what she said.
I just expect more acceptance of diversity out of a diversity class presenter.