Durag For Dummies

Solange Knowles ascended the steps of the Metropolitan Museum of Art wearing a gold halo — the theme of the Met Gala was Catholicism — over a black durag. Ms. Knowles wore the durag with the cape out; it dripped down her back. At the hem, in gold Gothic type, were the words “MY GOD WEARS A DURAG.” Godly, queenly, on theme.

Still, her headwear stood out among the papal hats and crowns, and led to some debates about the spelling (and possible hyphenation) of the word durag. So we figured it was time to clear a few things up.

Who Invented the Durag, and Why?

There is no specific inventor of the durag. That’s like asking who invented the comb. But the use of having a scarf or a rag to keep your hairstyle in place and frizz-free took a great leap forward in the ’70s.

Darren Dowdy, president of So Many Waves, claims his father, William J. Dowdy, invented it as part of a hair grooming kit.

Mr. Dowdy called his durag a “tie down” — he hated the name durag — and it was first sold widely in 1979.

“He realized he really wanted to have something to keep the hair in place,” said Mr. Dowdy. The idea was that you didn’t want the hair to revert to its natural, tightly coiled structure after brushing it down. “The tie down was worn to protect the hair pattern,” he said.

It’s All About Spinning Waves

“I wore a durag because I was trying to get waves,” said Debo Sodeke, 23, who started wearing durags when he was 12 and is now a collector. “Waves are actually defined curls.”

Mr. Sodeke broke it down for our straight-haired friends: “You brush your hair continuously in the same direction, then you find your hair’s pattern and continue to brush with your pattern. Some people use pomade and brush the hair a lot. You then put on your durag to compress your hair.”

While we’re here, it’s worth noting that the spelling of durag is a tiny bit fraught with controversy. Merriam-Webster renders it as “do-rag,” observing that it is a rag used to protect a hairdo. On the other hand, anyone who has ever worn a durag spells it durag. Moving on.

In Season 2 of the TV show “Atlanta,” there’s an episode called “Sportin’ Waves.” Tracy, who has just been released from jail and is looking for a job, won’t take his durag off because he wants his hair to look good for an interview. He spends the episode with the durag on, only taking it off while he is walking into his potential employer’s office. The camera finally focuses on his hair to reveal uniformed, shiny, silky waves. Perfection.

This is the general use of the durag. To keep your waves on swim, spinning or, as Mr. Sodeke put it, “You’re ready to drown everybody, you dripping.” Source

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