Hoop earrings sound like a weird way to discuss your insecurities, right? At least for me, I thought I was doing myself (and my people) a favor by being a “good” or “ideal” representation of what a Black person in education and/or the workforce should be. I figured hoop earrings had no place in my sense of style.
But I’m getting way ahead of myself over hoop earrings
Once upon a time, I’d advocate that I wasn’t your “stereotypical Black girl.” In short, that just means I spoke the King’s English, listened to a lot of Sum41 and Fallout Boy, and I didn’t know what a T-Pain was until the 6th grade. Despite being made fun of by my Black counterparts for, well, all of those things, I still knew wearing hoops went against what I thought I had to be for my people and for the perception surrounding us as a culture.
To me, Hoop Earrings Are Like Natural Black Hair
You can’t wear them around white people without interrogation. Hoops, like natural hair, don’t fit the standard of what it means to be a socially acceptable Black person. If you’re a Black person with cornrows, it’s deemed ghetto. Rocking a do-rag is deemed “gang-related,” and with the addition of some big gold hoops in either of those styles? Fuggetaboutit. Hoop earrings are big, gaudy circles that hang from the ears. And god forbid a Black POC, particularly women, wear anything that brings attention to themselves.
But the rise in Cultural Appropriation Has Helped Me Welcome the “ghetto” connotation attached to Hoops
From the Kardashian’s “boxer braids” and Ariana Grande’s “My hair, just bought it” debacle to the gross demand of Blackfishing Instagram models, to even Gwen Stefani’s Hollaback Girl days, there are endless instances where white women have derived Black culture and claimed it as theirs.
However, the anger I once felt towards all the lengthy acrylic tips on Caucasian hands that my Black ass could never get away with, overly tanned skin intended to Blackfish, and Bantu knots tied up with nap-less tresses pushed me to love my culture harder than ever. As I felt the trends that my people created begin to (again) drift into the hands of people who don’t know Blackness as a life experience, I took ownership of those trends again. Nowadays, I tap into my Rico Nasty “I was wearing wigs, think I’m moving onto Braids now” energy. I would proudly rock Jstlbby-long tips (if I weren’t like, a writer or anything) without the inquisition of white eyes lingering on them for uncomfortably long periods of time.
Of course, now I never leave the house without a pair of oversized hoop earrings because they really do have the power (with or without makeup on) to make you that bitch. Neither cultural appropriation nor stereotypes about jewelry are going away anytime soon. However, as long as I’m still standing and breathing…