Scandal: The Head Scarf Speaks

Naomi Campbell for Dennis Basso

It was just a couple of months ago that we broke the story about the eviction of the Head Scarf from hair care routines and bedrooms across America. While many were dismayed and are clinging to the long-time hair care tradition, others are saying good riddance.  Well as with any scandal, there are two sides to every story.  For the first time, the Head Scarf speaks about the accusations, the controversy, and what’s next.

RDD: Over the years there’s been a brewing controversy about your presence in the hair care routine of African American women as well as the bedroom. Some of the allegations have been been made a part of conversations ranging from standup routines to spirited debates in salons.  To some you are seen as a tradition, while others have vilified you.  What do you think the issue is here?

HS: Well, I think that this is all a result of a misrepresentation of who I am and my intended purpose.  It has always been my intent to beautify women from all walks of life.  I think when people look back at my legacy over the past few decades, they’ll see that I have always been about beauty and empowerment of women. Unfortunately, there have been some…haters, who twisted my purpose into something it was not.  They said things that unfortunately many began to believe.

RDD: And there has definitely been a lot said.  Just a few of the accusations have been that you come from a negative past and history, you were unkempt, not clean enough, that you removed intimacy from marital relationships, that you kidnapped “sexy” from the bedroom, an enabler of stiff and lackluster hairstyles, and that you encouraged laziness in the beauty routines of women.  How do you respond to those allegations?

HS: Wow.  Where do I begin? Well, first of all I’d like to clarify that I don’t come from the negative, downtrodden past that people have claimed.  A lot of people believe that.  But the truth is, for centuries I’ve been considered a symbol of beauty, grace and regal presence from women of all walks of life in various countries.  I think the real problem is that many don’t know or esteem their own history.

RDD: So the association with, lets just put it out there…Aunt Jemima, slavery, domestics, etc., you’re saying that is not true?

HS: The thing you have to remember is that I represent beauty and I bring beauty to all women.  I have never limited myself to a particular group or class.  So if women who were domestics or whatever used me as a means to beautify themselves, I don’t regret that.  I knew Aunt Jemima and she was a beautiful woman.  She wore lipstick, is that a negative  because she wore it?  I think people see me as a negative because of their perception of her and the time period that she lived in.  She wore me in the way that she felt comfortable at the time.  It is not a reflection of who I am.  I’m comfortable with who I am, I wish others were.

RDD: What about the other allegations?  I don’t mean to be harsh, but you’ve been labeled unattractive, often times even referred to as a rag.  What about those comments?

HS: I feel that this whole thing has been a setup.  I’m being made an example of.  The accusations about not being attractive, unkempt, “not” sexy…(sigh).  As much as I beautify women, I need to be taken care of so that I can bring the best out in a woman.  The hypocrisy is deafening.  I mean how can you claim to want to be strong and beautiful, but neglect to care and clean the staple of your “beauty routine.”  How many other items of clothes go weeks, months [or longer] and are not washed?  It would be an embarrassment.

In fact, what I’ve been through is embarrassing.  Not to me.  To them.  They were raised better.  The level of neglect I’ve had to withstand saddens me. Frankly, I consider it abuse.  I know that I’m not alone.  There are other beauty products that have been neglected as well.  Still I think that for most women, at least the ones that are complaining, I have been their mainstay.  This is betrayal.

RDD: And your unwelcome presence in relationships?

HS: That is one of the most hurtful.  It was never my intention to be relegated to the bedroom.  But I do believe that is what led to me becoming a “dirty” little secret.  As I stated earlier, my purpose was to beautify women in their every day lives-not when they slept.  The fact that I could be used for that purpose was cool, but it was not my primary use.  That is where the abuse began.

Whatever issues there were in their relationships weren’t there because of me.  I was an easy scapegoat for what was already missing.  And when you look at the amount of neglect I was enduring can you blame anyone for complaining?  What other undergarment wouldn’t be washed?!  Really?  But what’s done is done.  When I was enduring that and being paired with lingerie, foundations and night silk teddies-yeah it wasn’t a good look.  I can understand the awkwardness of the situation.  I lived it.  But I can’t change the past.  And honestly, if women understood the beauty that I have to offer them, they’d wear me in ways that complimented them even at night time.

RDD: Well, let’s address that, because I think most women have stayed true to the traditional tying at the back and wrapping the edges to the front?  What other styles would you suggest?

HS: Are you serious?  Let me count the ways.  There was always the option to tie the knot at the nape of the neck and allow my edges to flow freely.  That is a very sexy look, especially when I’m paired with the right gown.  Then there’s the option to actually tie a chignon at the front sides or the nape as well.  A twisted bandanna that protects the edges of the hair and allows the crown to flow freely was a beautiful look as well.

Rihanna’s Bandanna on the Beach

RDD: Interesting.  I do have to mention that in spite of all of this you do still have some strong supporters.  Why do you think that is?

HS: They get me. And they didn’t buy into the negative hype that was out there.

RDD: We’re being told that your presence in the bedroom is being replaced by the silk pillow case.  How do you feel about that?

HS: Relieved!  Actually, I’m elated [smiles].  Just as I have a purpose so does the Silk Pillow Case and this is where she will shine.  It also frees me to get back to the beauty that I want to bring to women.

RDD: So what’s next for you?

HS: You’ll see a lot more of me in fashion spreads.  I’ll be very busy this spring as women want to protect their hair from heat.  I’ll be a nice alternative to hats. You’ll also see a lot more of me internationally.  It’s time I get back out there…I’m taking this thing global!

Iman Home Collection

Related Story:

Salon Chronicles: For The Head Scarf, It’s A Wrap!

Photo Source: Naomi Campbell (AvenueJo.com); Rihanna (RihannaDaily.com); Iman (Unknown)

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