I unapologetically wear my bonnet on Zoom meetings and yes, my pride is in tact. if you haven’t been keeping up with hair headlines, the bonnet conversation isn’t something new, but a topic that has risen to popularity after the COVID-19 pandemic changed the way we engage personally and professionally. In-person meetings went virtual and conference rooms turned into living rooms as we adjusted to corporate life from home.
Earlier this year, Refinery29 sparked debate when they published a viral article that questioned if wearing a bonnet during a work meeting was professional.. The article was polarizing among Black women who either deemed it unfathomable or, the other half, who didn’t see the harm in the headwear.
I was happy to come across the read, on my timeline, because I am a Black women who rocks a silk bonnet during my meetings; it’s part of my look. I have a short do, which means I need to lay my hair down to keep my finger waves on swim. I don’t think wearing satin bonnets or du-rags outdoors is as bad as people say.
This weekend, outspoken comedienne Mo’nique posted a video, posed the question if “yung sistas” who wear bonnets or slippers in public have lost a sense of pride in their appearance.
“I saw so many of our young sistas in head bonnets, scarves, slippers, pajamas, blankets wrapped around them, and this is how they’re showing up to the airport,” she said in a five-minute IGTV video. “I’ve been seeing it not just at the airport, I’ve been seeing it at the store, at the mall. I’ve been seeing sistas showing up in these bonnets and headscarves and slippers. And the question I have to you my sweet babies: when did we lose pride in representing ourselves?”
As noted by Love & Hip Hop personality Tokyo Vanity, wearing a bonnet in public isn’t about lack of pride. And I agree. There’s many reasons why a woman chooses to wear a bonnet in public — they’re trendy, protect our protective styles and preserve our hairstyles. Mo’Nique’s opinion reeks of respectability politics that never favored Black women in the first place. The “bonnet” debate is an oppressive beauty standards that we no longer have to accept. Black women should be able to show wear their bonnets, in public, without being judged, labeled ghetto or unprofessional.
“Y’all aggravating me w/ the airport judgment if you don’t like bonnets in public don’t wear one” Tokyo wrote on social media to counter Mo’Nique’s argument.
I wear my silk bonnet because protecting my hair is more important than being pressured by social media to maintain a certain level of “appearance” at all times. Unlike our favorite celebrities, most of us do not have the time or glam team to keep us picture perfect throughout the day. Bonnets, satin caps, and du-rags are the best way to protect and care for textured hair.
Deeming headwear like bonnets or scarves unprofessional also welcomes hair discrimination, which is what the entire basis of CROWN Act that seeks to eliminate “race-based hairstyles by extending statutory protection to hair texture and protective styles such as braids, locs, twists, and knots in the workplace and public schools.”
So no, we are not wearing bonnets because we lack pride in ourselves. My bonnet serves a purpose — to protect my beautiful kinks, coils and waves.