White Girl, Take Off Your Hoops!
I came across an essay yesterday that made me do some serious thinking...
“Why I Can’t Quit You, Hoops,” was written by Sandra Garcia, a Latina who grew up in the Bronx. Garcia’s ears were pierced with tiny gold hoops as a baby and, until the age of 17, they were an ever-present fixture on her face. In her late teen years and as a college student, she started to feel self-conscious about what they represented.
“By the time I was a graduate student at Columbia University years later I was only wearing tiny studs. I felt that wearing large hoops would make me stand out, make me seem too loud, too visible, too ghetto, too black. “ - Garcia, NYTimes
Garcia didn’t start wearing hoops again until last year. She was encouraged and inspired by this mural and the conversation it sparked.
The mural was meant to start a dialogue about cultural appropriation and white privilege. Garcia cites a follow-up essay from VICE as articulating the thoughts behind the mural’s sentiments. She talks about the history of hoop earrings, dating back to Ancient Egypt, their connection with the Black Power movement of the 60’s and 70’s, and their more recent heyday in the fashion world (last summer “Vogue declared that up-do’s and hoops were the ultimate summer pairing”- VICE, 2017).
Garcia, now 30, has made a conscious effort start wearing hoops again, knowing full-well that she’ll be announcing her Latin-ness wherever she goes, especially when the trend is “over” (i.e. when white girls stop wearing them).
As a hoop-wearing white girl, I’m ashamed to admit I’d never considered the implications of my earring choice. I’ve never had to wonder whether I’d be perceived as “too-ghetto” (Garcia, NYTimes) or “trashy”(Pivet, VICE) because I wear them.
Why do I think they make me look “edgy”?! Duh.
On Saturday (a day before I read Garcia’s essay), I went to the Kohler Arts Center with my family and took this cover picture imitating a sculpture by Black artist Dr. Charles Smith. The bust features a Black women wearing large hoop earrings.
Nevertheless, I don’t think I’ll stop wearing them. I don’t think that was the point of the essay, the mural, etc. But from now on, when I do wear hoops, I’ll think of this photo and cringe a little, conscious more and more of how little I’ve felt their real weight.