We see people wearing bonnets, especially when going to bed, and wonder whether only specific cultural groups should wear them. But in essence, are bonnets cultural? That is the question we’re about to answer in this article.
Who Used to Wear Hair Bonnet?
Anyone can wear hair bonnets including white people. In the 17th century, only high society women wore hair bonnets. It was a standard head covering for them until the late 1800s.
Religious ideals meant that hair bonnets were a symbol of womanly grandeur.
Hair bonnet represents women in both lower and higher social classes. It was a sign of feminine devotion as dictated in popular religious teachings.
As society became more aware of freedom in terms of fashion, the bonnet was considered an honorable badge of tradition and modesty.
Despite all that, what is the culture behind bonnets?
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The Culture of Hair Bonnets
Only high society women used to wear hair bonnets during the early days of the 17th century. It was meant to cover the head and eventually became the trend by the 1800s. Based on the traditions of religion and the significance of womanly subordination, hair bonnets could be viewed as cultural items.
But is that the case today?
We cannot dispute that society has changed and what was once seen as a symbol of culture in the 1800s may no longer hold the same status.
Are Bonnets Cultural?
Bonnets are not cultural even though their origins may be traced to specific social groups. Anyone with curly hair or weaving and want to protect their hair can wear a bonnet. It is not a cultural appropriation to wear a bonnet to get these benefits.
It is okay for anyone to wear a bonnet, whether male or female.
But here is the problem that comes with women not of color wearing hair bonnets…
The main reason why black women wear hair bonnets is for limiting hair breakage since black women’s hair is not sufficiently oily to maintain softness on its own. It gets brittle when drained of moisture.
When Asian and Caucasian women on vacation, say Morocco, Greece, or Malindi frolic around in scarves and bonnets, it makes us people feel in a certain way.
More often than not, these women treat bonnets as fashion and fail to understand their significance.
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We cannot also eliminate the understanding that black culture has not been copied and profited from in the past. Celebrities such as Bo Derek, Kim Kardashian, Katy Perry, among others have adopted high fashion that is appropriated from other cultures.
Therefore, even if bonnets were cultural, there is no harm in the appropriation of bonnets and giving credit for borrowing the product. Cultural exchange is acceptable in every corner of the world.
Does this mean you can wear a bonnet if you’re white?
Yes, you can wear a hair bonnet even if you’re white. Being Caucasian or Asian does not stop you from desiring the benefits that come with wearing bonnets to bed. They are necessary to protect your curly hair and ensure that you sleep tidy at night.
A bonnet is that fashion that transcends race. Even if someone told you you’re appropriating culture by wearing it, it shouldn’t matter because you’re doing what’s good for your hair.
Hair Bonnets and Black Culture
Hair bonnet has come to be one of the most popular items among women in the Black community.
However, millions of men and women from all corners of the world wear bonnets. Even though their designs may vary, they serve the same purpose: fashion and protection of hair.
Is it Cultural Appropriation to Wear Hair Bonnet?
There are millions of white and Asian women whose bathrooms and bedrooms are filled with bonnets, scarves, and turbans to protect their hair.
They wear them every night to protect their strands from any breakage and to hold the moisture and natural oils in the hair.
Bonnets serve specific roles to different people and that is why they cannot be considered a cultural item.
Instead, hair bonnets should be viewed as a fashion that can be embraced by anybody. Given the benefits of wearing bonnets, it does not make sense to appropriate them to certain cultures.
Up to now, it may be unclear but wear your bonnet. Is a bonnet cultural? All this depends of why you’re getting it.
If it is for cultural appropriation, go ahead.
For those buying bonnets for their hair benefits, the decision is all yours.