I came across an article written on r29unbothered about black women wearing bonnets on zoom calls and thought it was quite interesting.
The article title is – There’s Nothing “Unprofessional” About Wearing My Bonnet On Zoom. The article was published on January 7th and written by Sydney Clarke.
In the piece, Sydney posed the question about how much our natural hair routines do we keep under wraps, especially since we are no longer headed to the office.
This is a topic that I thought was pretty interesting because Sydney created a direct line between the conversation around taming black hair to what is deemed presentable on a zoom call.
Read a snip of what she shared below:
Last week, ahead of a last-minute meeting, panic ensued as I hustled to figure out how to do my hair and look presentable on camera for seven minutes max. The debate around “presentability” as it pertains to Black hair is a frustrating and tiresome tug of war, with Eurocentric ideals on one end and expectations we’ve grown up with on the other.
The concept that Black hair is wild and needs to be tamed is real, as evidenced by the fact that anti-hair discrimination had to be legislated, and still isn’t outlawed in all 50 states.
Messages like this added pressure to Black girls who become Black women with unsettled and uncomfortable relationships with their hair even before the complexities of the professional world set in.
We walk through spaces hearing that we have to work twice as hard to get half as much as our white colleagues and that work includes styling our hair. Not everyone can just do wash-and-go’s before an event — for some of us, wash day is an all-day routine that includes stretching, blow-drying, parting, and twisting with a mixture of oils and creams dripping down our hands.
Sydney made some valid points and I couldn’t help but think about a similar experience I had just today.
This morning I did what I like to call a “quick wash and braid”. I knew I had a phone meeting within the hour so I was pressed for time.
I, shampooed condition and added 4 braids to my hair. Im talking about 4 wet ‘bye Felicia’ braids that I planned to dry using a t-shirt, so yall already know what that looked like!
(Rarely will I do a wash and go especially during this period of quarantine, protective styles are always on my mind! Period.)
Fast forward to my call, the call was at around 10.30 AM and I found out it was a zoom video call and not just voice at around 10:15 AM.
Que the panic and decision making!
10- 15 minutes isnt really enough time to prep unless I do a wet style or ponytail or something.
My hair was already in the four braids which meant I would have to unravel my braids or tie this bad boy down.
For me! If my zoom call requires video especially if the team is on video then I should be on video. I think thats the curteous thing to do.
But today I opted not to do it. I stayed on voice and felt guilty for the entire call.
Never once did I consider hopping on the call with my bonnet on.
In an interview exploring the topic on R29 one of the women shared this opinion:
“When you’re in a group of women who look like you, it feels more like family, like a safe space; there’s an understanding there.
I don’t have to explain myself,” Stephanie Long, Senior Editor of R29Unbothered, started us off in the ZBM.
Her dark purple bonnet and matching lipstick were her effort to dress up that morning for the meetings she had later in the day — much more of an effort than I’d made.
As a member of R29Unbothered, she works with Black women who understand the hassle and flat-out laziness everyone feels when doing their hair.
Wearing bonnets to their meetings is not a call for an intervention, but once she steps out of those meetings, there’s a different dynamic.
“When you’re in a group of people that’s outside of that understanding, that’s outside of your community, you definitely think about how you’re coming off to other people,” Long said.
I should add at this point that my zoom call was with black women, but still the bonnet was not the option that came to my mind.
The ladies also shared this opinion:
“I feel like this whole pandemic has just helped me be like, ‘This is my hair, this is how it looks.
If you want to say something, screw you,” Morgan said, giving voice to a feeling of take-it-or-leave it.
KP Garrison, another 2030 Fellow, noted how put off she was by her professor forbidding students from leaving their cameras off during class and discouraging towels, scarves, or bonnets.
“We’re balancing having our work life within our personal life now,” she said.
“Not only is it already pretty invasive having everyone in your bedroom and in your living room, I felt that taking away something that makes you feel like you can get out of bed for the time being was super disrespectful.”
On top of that, Morgan said, “We’re not even working from home. We’re trying to work through a pandemic.”
As accustomed to these workplace changes as we may think we are, we’re working against fatigue, distractions, and stress compounded by fear of the unknown.
When trying to figure out how we, as Black women, should present ourselves on camera in meetings that should have been emails, Long hit the nail on the head: “My normal, as a Black woman, is walking around all the time with my bonnet on.
Who are you to tell me that my bonnet is not ‘class-appropriate’ or not ‘work-appropriate’? As far as I’m concerned, I look fabulous.” Komonibo added, “You can over-perform or respect yourself and be like, ‘I don’t have the capacity to do that.
I don’t have the capacity to take off my bonnet today, I don’t have the capacity to draw on my eyebrows today. I’m here, and I’m going to be doing my job and doing what I came to do.”
Feel free to read the rest of the article, but the conclusion was simply “that its complicated”.
How we deal with our hair while working from home is simply complicated (oxymoron I know).
My take is less complicated though.
I am still affected by the perceived notion that bonnets are for bed much like face mask is for self-care or flip flops arent for the gym.
I see it as serving a specific function that opperates at a specific time. Others would argue that I have an internalized fear that I need to quickly address.
I would love to hear your opinion!
Do you think, bonnets are appriate for zoom? I say no! But What do you think?