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Following Jesus

Why I Love to Wear a Head Covering

March 7, 2016 by

Editors’s note: Religious head coverings for women have seemingly always been a hot-button issue, but over the last few years, with the rise of inter-religious tensions between Christians and Muslims, the issue seems to have become more polarizing than ever before. Women who choose to wear a head covering (often as part of a generally modest costume) argue vehemently for the rightness of their decision, while the many women who choose not to do so see their religious counterparts as variously oppressed, brainwashed, or fashion-sense-deprived. Norann Voll, one of our featured bloggers, shares her thoughts on the issue here. She’s not trying to convince you that she’s right and you’re wrong; she’s just giving her perspective as a Christian religious woman who covers her hair. . . and is proud of it.


I have walked through cities and villages, restaurants and rainforests in the USA, Europe, and Australia, and I have always been stared at. That’s because I wear a head covering and a long skirt – and, more often than not, I am holding a man’s hand.

Norann walking with her husband and two of their sons

My husband and I have been married for almost eighteen years, and we love to walk hand in hand. When I hold Chris’s hand, we joyfully proclaim that we belong to each other. By the way we’re dressed, I hope we also make it obvious we belong to Jesus – or at least obvious that we don’t subscribe to fashion trends.

I’ve lost track of how many times my clothing and head covering have given me opportunities to tell others about the reason for the hope that I have, to witness to just how much I love Jesus. That’s one of the blessings of dressing differently.

Of course, many people who wear “normal” clothes are far more bold than I am in reaching out to others and sharing the good news of Jesus. I’m not saying at all that I’m a better person for covering my head or wearing homemade dresses, or that doing so gives me a golden ticket to heaven.

So what motivates me? Head covering and modesty have been long-standing concerns of disciples of Jesus from the very beginning. The apostle Paul, whom I admire as continuing Jesus’ example of honoring women, writes to Timothy, “I also want women to dress modestly, with decency and propriety, not with braided hair or gold or pearls or expensive clothes, but with good deeds, appropriate for women who profess to worship God,” and to the Corinthian church, “that every woman who prays or prophesies with her head uncovered dishonors her head.”

I know, I know. Christian women the world over bristle about these words. And one puny blog post isn’t exactly going to be a game-changer. So let me just say that while those Bible references certainly inspire me, my desire to cover my head comes not merely from reading the scriptures or early church history, but from my own conviction, and the answer to what motivates me is actually pretty simple.

Wearing a head covering and dressing modestly makes me feel liberated.

For me, it’s not an omen of oppression, but a flag of freedom.

Freedom in the sense of being rightly related to my Creator and enabling me to maintain an attitude of permanent worship. (A quick aside: I like to think the twenty minutes I spend prayer-walking my way to work each morning – when I luxuriate in the holiness of God’s own house with its great blue sky domed above me and the zebra finches bickering incessantly on the fencerows – are minutes I’ve stolen from the mirror: I don’t wear make-up either, btw., and I don’t have wardrobe/hairstyle decisions to bog down the start of my day.)

Freedom from comparison, that ever-lurking “thief of joy,” because I am not beholden to any fashion standard, nor am I setting an example that makes another woman feel unworthy.

And, most blessedly, freedom to allow the right relationships of other men toward me, and ultimately, freedom from the enslavement of objectification. In other words, by endeavoring to dress and behave in the manner I feel most honors my womanhood, I hope I am inspiring men to behave like true men.

Like a temple adorned from the outside with decorations that denote worthiness, my clothing consecrates. Communicates.

Sets aside.

Sets apart.

By wearing a head covering, I am making a clear statement to the visible and invisible world that my allegiance is to God.

But having said that, my head covering has never, ever separated me from anyone, or prevented me from forming deep and strong friendships with many amazing women and men the world over.

They know that for me it is not about piety or perfectionism – but a reminder of the Grace that covers me every day. They respect me because they know that dressing simply gives me a great sense of peace and belonging.

Belonging to God.

And, as a married woman, belonging to one excellent man.

By covering my hair, I’m saying my hairstyle doesn’t matter, but my mind, heart, and character do. By covering my body, I’m saying my confidence doesn’t come from fashion or fitness, but from a deep sense of knowing I am worthy just for who I am, not what I look like. Wearing a head covering says that I not only accept, but love, the woman God has created me to be. And the belief that dressing with modesty, dressing with the deepest respect for myself, will in turn awaken respect in others.

But I still get stares and sometimes, in addition, loud exclamations of “You look so beautiful!” or, “Your clothing is just so peaceful.” But always, always, I get the great questions, and love the opportunity to tell people about why I dress the way I do.

I love all the questions, but the one I’m most often asked is, “Do you have to?”

What I hear them saying is, “Is this really your choice?” I get that, I really do, especially as I’m part of a community in which all women wear the same modest “style.”

The answer is no, I don’t have to. I wear what I wear because I choose to. For the reasons cited above. And so that my three sons see that the love of Jesus, and the deep love and respect of my husband, are all I need to feel whole.

Now, read Norann’s thoughts on a related topic: modesty of dress.


To keep up with Norann and her thoughts on motherhood, discipleship, and great recipes, follow her on Twitter at @NorannV. Comments

About the author

Norann Voll portrait

Norann Voll

Norann Voll lived in New York’s Hudson Valley until moving to the Danthonia Bruderhof in New South Wales, Australia in 2002...

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  • Norann, Loved your article. Do you ever cover all your hair, or always leave the front showing?

    Chantelle
  • Happy Sabbath Day Of Rest And Gladness Norann! I am dressed and have my head covering on for church. My heart is so full of joy and Thanksgiving to my sweet Jesus for all he has done for me! My fellow believers don't understand WHY I wear a head covering. But I am UNDER (covered by!) the blood of The Lamb Of God. God bless all my sisters in your fellowship. I love you all!

    Traci Comstock
  • Norman, I cherish your blog. Thank you for letting me share. It means a lot to me. My mom is going to study 1Cor11 also. She is interested because she sees that my heart is full of love and joy for Jesus and the Word. The more I study this teaching the deeper the Word is. God bless you. Women in the world are too wrapped up in their hair, makeup and body type and size. I am so thankful that Jesus loves me! I am so thank ful that Jesus loves you! I am so thankful that Jesus loves all women. God bless you Norann. We are sisters in Christ. And I love you! I love all mysisters in Christ.

    Traci Comstock
  • Norann, I believe that when Jesus came into this world, born of woman, he was fully God and also fully man. And, just like us, he was born as one of us, in a human body. This human body was created "a little lower than the angels."

    Traci Comstock
  • Thank you for your personal insight, Traci. May Jesus continue to protect, guide and provide for you and your loved ones in many tangible ways. Norann

    Norann Voll
  • I find that when I am under strong attack from the enemy of my soul, that covering can my head, Because of the angels, gives me great confidence by that my Lord Jesus is protecting and providing for me and my family.

    Traci comstock
  • I'm not laughing, Traci, that's awesome! all the best, Norann

    Norann Voll
  • I just went to Walmart (don't laugh!) and bought two attractive but inexpensive head coverings.

    Traci Comstock
  • Norann, I love your writing, can't wait to read more about you!

    Chantelle
  • Thank you for your encouragement Angela and Sarah. I appreciate you sharing this piece on your blog Elle. All the best to each one of you ladies as you strive to be faithful to God's calling on your life. Love and blessings, Norann

    Norann Voll
  • I love this! Thank you so much for this and Godbless you!

    Angela haire
  • Hi Norann, I'm delighted to hear it is truly a choice, and not a pre-requisite. I'm happy to know of your community, and I'm glad to hear you allow for this freedom for women. Thank you!

    Sarah Johnson
  • Hello from Texas! I referenced this article on my blog about modesty and head covering. I cover full time and thought your write up was spot-on! It's referenced at www.theacculturatedhousewife.com

    Elle Ibanez
  • I’m so glad you enjoyed this, piece, Sarah and thank you for your honest questions which I don’t find to be offensive at all. In this post I am answering the implied question “Do I have to wear a head-covering?” and said, no, I choose to. I’ve also chosen to be a part of a church that has a tradition of modest dress, including head covering. So, in a sense, head covering comes with the territory. But clearly there are women in our community who don’t cover their hair (girls and teenage women, for instance, and there are two women on the community in which I live who choose not to cover) and wouldn’t be made to do so as a condition of membership. It’s a bit like asking a nun if she “has to” wear the dress of her order. Of course she doesn’t have to. But then, she also doesn’t have to be a nun. In other words, the dress style is undoubtedly a uniform, but it’s one I’ve chosen – and ultimately it flowed from a much more important decision, which you described well as my “own personal relationship with Christ.” Hopefully this answers your questions. Wishing you blessings and encouragement, Norann

    Norann Voll
  • Hi Norann, I enjoyed your post. Respectfully, my question is this: how can you say it is a choice when women who are born and raised in your community wear the head covering as a uniform? Is it not required by your community? Does your community allow for women to choose, for their own reasons and conscience, not to wear the head covering and still partake in all community activities? I do not mean these questions at all to be offensive or attacking, but simply inquisitive. To my understanding of the word 'choice', it means that you allow for women to choose otherwise, according to their own personal relationship with Christ, and identity with God.

    Sarah Johnson
  • Great questions, Teresa. My head covering is just a simple, home-made triangle of lightweight cloth. I use a bobby pin on each side to keep it in place. Norann

    Norann Voll
  • Hi Norann- thanks for this article! Where do you get your head coverings & how do you keep them from falling off?

    Teresa Jones
  • Dear Nikki Thank you for your comments and questions. I would encourage you with your own words that "I feel like I am being led by the Holy Spirit in this." As you continue to ask for the Spirit's guidance, I am confident you will receive solid answers to your seeking. You are right that covering will not make you any more "spiritual" or endearing to God; we are His beloved daughters always and all ways. Likewise, I don't think the style of covering, rules about when you wear it, or pearls or braids are the most important thing. It's the attitude of the heart and forgoing those things which we do to make other people notice us which is important. I wish you God's guidance and peace as you continue to seek His will about this. Wishing you every best blessing, Norann

    Norann Voll
  • I'm in the beginning of studying 1 Corinthians 11:2-16.. Every time over the last few years as I read through the bible I always really ponder these verses. "Are they relevant"? "Am I sinning unintentionally by not wearing a covering "? And more. So I am Looking into it more..I feel like I am being led by the Holy Spirit in this. I don't believe it will make me any more "spiritual" or a way for God to love me more. I have questions like how often am I to wear a cover? And what constitutes as a head covering? Is it always scarf-like? What about a ladies hat? What about my hair. Can it show? the verses about not wearing pearls and braids, is that literal? Does it mean specifically those things or anything that makes you more noticed ? Where do I find a swe s to these questions?

    Nikki
  • I agree with you

    MARCELLA
  • I love the level of your understanding in the word of God. I am very well encouraged

    EVANGELIST ATUAH ANDREWS
  • Thanks for your thoughtful comments, Greg. We live in Australia where the intense sunlight is known to increase risks of skin cancer, so wearing a hat (whether you’re male or female) is a sensible way to protect yourself. My husband and sons don’t wear hats while at prayer, and (in keeping with 1 Cor 11:14) they wear their hair short. As I wrote, I don’t in any way judge other women and how they do/don’t practice head-covering, but I take joy in covering my head in public both while at formal worship and throughout the day, seeing it as an act of worship as well as a sign of modesty. For me, there is no “outside of worship” context, since my heart is to live in a way that reflects worship constantly. But at the same time, I’m a down to earth, straightforward kind of person…I hope this helps. All the very best, Norann

    Norann Voll
  • Your picture shows your boys wearing head coverings too. Does your husband ever wear a hat too? Do you consider this a violation of 1 Cor 11:1-15? I hope not. Outside of a worship context head coverings are just common clothing. Likewise bread and/or wine consumed outside of communion is just food, and bathing or swimming submersed, outside of a baptism context have no spiritual symbolism. Secondly, the head covering (or not covering for men) in worship, is a symbol of God's headship, and our gender identity and roles. But it has nothing to do with modesty. Modesty is a 24 hour a day, seven day a week practice. But covering, as described in 1 Cor 11:1-15 is specifically designed with a particular symbolic purpose. I applaud your willingness to cover. I think all Christian women should....during worship. Adding man's requirements to God's word can be just as dangerous as disobeying them.

    Greg Cowen
  • Thanks for your encouragement, Leona, Chantelle, and all of you who have responded to this post. Your comments mean a lot to me. I wish each one of you God’s grace and wisdom to keep loving, serving, and Kingdom-building in whatever vineyard He has placed you. All the very best, Norann

    Norann Voll
  • thank you for sharing your thoughts..I have been reading up on headcoverings for awhile now and am becoming more and more convicted that it is somthing I should be doing..prayers for wisdom would be appreciated thank you

    Leona Dubois
  • Norann, great story, thanks for sharing.

    Chantelle
  • Stumbled across your page and I am a headcovering homemade dress - wearing woman who by God's grace only found His path of covering. Your page blessed me and your sentiments are the same. It is nice to find kindred spirits on what can be a lonely walk. May our Father Bless you and yours sister.

    Marcee Florczak
  • Norann, I love your take in life, and your wardrobe!

    Chantelle
  • Just discovered this blog and your article on modest dress and head covering. Beautifully written and helpful to me. Thank you.

    Dianne Plourde
  • Very informative post.Really thank you! Awesome. edecafddeeecbdbd

    Smithb564
  • As a Xian in the world, I can tell you that the headcovering does not witness to Christ in the minds of most unbelievers. It is seen as an oddity of dress that only puts more distance between those in Christ and those without Christ.

    Barry Lillie
  • Good article. I agree and feel the same.

    Lucinda Leamer
  • Wearing a covering and dressing modestly makes me feel liberated, too! Thank you for this encouraging post, sister in Christ!

    Deborah
  • I really enjoyed this blog post. You gave me much to think about when you talked about it in reference to your husband. I dress modestly in long skirts and modest tops but have gone back and forth with covering. Mainly because it has been hard finding a covering I am comfortable in, and also, I do not live in a community as you do. So it can be very lonely at times. Thank you for this wonderful look into your life and sharing your thoughts.

    Kerri Gallion
  • Beautiful. I couldn't have said it better myself.

    Sherry Gore
  • Very beautiful message and well-written. Thank you.

    Rhonda
  • Thank you for your thoughtful words. I agree modesty is not enslaving, but brings one closer in your relationship to God. May He bless you for your stand for Him.

    Margaretanne Connors
  • Beautifully written. I love the image of you walking to work under the "dome of blue" with the zebra finches making their noise. You exude peace andjoy - not just tour clothing but your smile and your manner. You are a beautiful person inside and out.

    Dana
  • My family and I have spent some time with you , Chris and your boys. I have always valued your insight. You touch the lives of people how open their heart .

    Sandy Moylan
  • Dear Norann, Such courage and integrity! Thankyou. Yes I have wondered why you dress as you do but have believed it is personal to you and none of my business to have a comment on it. So it was lovely that you volunteered what it means to you. I remember you saying to me once, years ago, that to be part of the Bruderhof community, is a calling. It’s not for everyone, and it’s not to be taken lightly. Yes, I can understand that! And I understand that having made that decision, as an aware adult, you are free to say, I commit to the vision of the community and all that it entails. Although I do not believe I am called to this, I do respect and honour the calling you have and accept whatever that involves, for you. However, as you said in your blog, your decision on outward adornment has gone beyond the commitment to Scripture and church history, and comes from your own conviction. Such a profound statement! And because it comes from your own personal conviction, I can rest in that! For me, the clothes I choose reflect my values and preferences, and thus reflect who I am. Yet I can see what you are saying and deeply respect that. In my own life, I have been a victim of a lot of controlling people, who have abused me in all sorts of ways, and am therefore cautious of being under anyone who would control me. But knowing that you dress as you do, because you freely choose to, gives me a great sense of peace. You are free! I loved your statements: liberated, flag of freedom, freedom from comparison, freedom from the enslavement of objectification, and so many more comments. I loved your statement that your confidence doesn’t come from fashion or fitness but from knowing you are worthy for who you are, not for what you look like. Yes and amen! (BTW I could identify with you regarding make-up as I do not wear any either.) I consider it a joy and privilege that God has placed you in my life. Yes indeed, it is the inner person that matters, and I value who you are. Love, Heather xx

    Heather Kerridge
  • Thank you. You spoke so eloquently exactly how I feel about my dress and head covering.

    Ruth Maendel
  • Thank you for your blog. Although I have read the scriptures many times to get the head covering bit sorted as I too want to please God and worship Him in my daily walk. But I still am not totally convinced about your stand. I feel it is about our bodies daily worshipping Him from His Spirit within us not showing the world how by wearing headscarves is outwardly showing our piety which in a way is showing off. Thank you so much for your blog it certainly gives me food for thought and is blessing me every time I read it. May God richly bless you and the ones you love and keep blogging. With love in Christ Susan Asplin

    Susan asplin
  • I enjoyed reading your post! It made me think more of my own actions when choosing what to wear and how to dress.... and i love your admiration for your husband :-)

    Meaghan Stamer
  • Wonderful, so enjoyed and uplifted by your writing's. Thank you.

    Lydia Lewis
  • Beautiful article......

    Donna Rochelo
  • Well said....and thank you for your insight.

    Rhonda Shoemaker