Written by Nic
2020 has been the year of remote working. The pandemic has shown that, not only could that meeting have been an email, but that email could have been sent from the comfort of your own home. Commutes have been cut from planes, trains and automobiles, to ten steps down the hall. And with that increase in isolation, video conferencing platforms like Zoom and Teams have taken centerstage, so that participants can actually see who they are talking to.
Last week, an article posted on Refinery29 boldly stated that there was “nothing unprofessional about wearing my bonnet on Zoom”. And with that, I wholly disagree.
I don’t know why a concerning number of black women are determined to race to the bottom. We should not normalize going to work looking a mess! Bonnets do not belong on work calls, and it is not anti-black to speak out against this practice.
It is absolutely unprofessional to wear a bonnet to work. This applies to whether you are working in the office, or remotely via video conference. If you don’t care enough about your own personal appearance to not remove your sleepwear before your video call, then I think it is a safe bet to assume that your work quality will mirror your appearance. Even if your work has been consistently great, showing up looking like you just rolled out of bed will never benefit you. I cannot believe that this needs to be explained.
I’ve never been much of a club goer, even pre-pandemic, but I have never once seen a black woman roll up to the dance floor with her bonnet on. If you wouldn’t wear it on a girls’ night out, you should not wear it to work, even if that work is a cordoned off corner of your living room.
You might say that, since working from home is the new normal, certain appearance adjustments might be in order. I’ve seen lots of memes featuring business on top, like a dress shirt or nice blouse, and the bare minimum on the bottom. Those are fine though, as long as you remain seated. But people are seeing you in your sleepwear. People you work with, who may have some kind of say on your employment. Should Bob from Accounting and Melissa from IT really be seeing you in your sleeping hat? Whether you like it or not, your appearance from your home office will be remembered when it’s time for your performance review.
Let’s try this a different way. Work is not the only thing taking place virtually these days.
Would you wear a bonnet to a Zoom job interview?
How about a virtual wedding or bridal shower?
Maybe a Zoom memoriam since for those unable travel due to social distancing?
If there is something amiss with wearing a bonnet on those occasions, then you shouldn’t wear one to work, even if you are working at home.
False equivalencies abounded in a few comment sections.
On that front, I disagree. I think a better comparison would be nonblack women appearing on screen with her wet hair in a towel. Or, a head full of rollers. Or, if someone, male or female, had their pajamas on for the whole meeting. Regardless, it does not matter. If nonblack women choose to look a rolled-out-of-bed mess on their Zoom meetings, hurray for them! In 2021 please stop aspiring downwards to the lowest of what other people are doing.
Bonnets are indeed a part of black culture. I have more than a few myself. However, it is not a part of black culture to present yourself in a disheveled, unkempt manner. It should be concerning that black and nonblack people alike think that bonnets anywhere but your house is a cultural norm. Unequivocally, wearing bonnets in public, in person or virtually, which are a part of your sleep attire, is sloppy. With the exception of taking ill overnight and getting rushed to the hospital, or some life-threatening emergency, I can’t come up with any reason why a bonnet would finish off any outfit. That is not a part of black culture to me, and it angers me that this is getting promoted.
But then again, when you have lengthy articles extolling this as normal, and a principal getting castigated for requiring parents to show up in something other than nighties and fluffy slippers to do school drop offs, maybe it is the culture. And that’s on us.
Virtual meetings have opened a window into people’s homes. There have been a few news stories about males masturbating on work calls, and so on.
To that I ask: So???
Why would you compare your bonnet-wearing fashion choice to the depraved choices of some idiot with no impulse control?
Today, black women champion the right to look sloppy in front of their peers, coworkers and employers. While relatively innocuous, it opens the door for poor behavior to be the standard. Let’s take it to the extreme. I mean, we already have close to 80% of children being born out of wedlock. Black women are head of household more often than not. You’ll get called mean, out of touch, or elitist for telling other black women to not have that third baby as she struggles with her first two. Twerking indiscriminately, like at graduations or Disney? It’s the culture. And I truly wish it wasn’t. I only see black people as the only group to base the culture off the worst parts, rather than the best. And it was not always like this.
If you are having a bad hair day and turning off your camera isn’t an option, here are some alternatives to looking like you just rolled out of bed:
Headwraps and scarves– you can find these in an array of styles and colors at a variety of retailers. Some come pre-tied, for those of us (like me) who can’t tie a headwrap that well. YouTube has tons of tutorials that can offer tying guidance.
Zoom wigs – I have a pair of pants by my front door that serves as my door pants. Their only purpose is to be close when the mail carrier comes bearing gifts. You can apply that logic to wigs, clip ins, drawstring ponytails, and so on. A simple synthetic unit you can shake and go can do wonders when you don’t have the time or energy to style your hair. You don’t have to apply three wig caps as a second scalp, a tablespoon of Got2B glued and use a dedicated toothbrush to swoop the baby hairs on your lacefront, but a quick little hair accoutrement number can go far.
Bonus: Camera covers – Just to prevent any unfortunate accidents, invest in a nice camera cover. The sliding ones are super handy. That way if a meeting starts and you’re caught unawares, the camera cover can afford you some grace to finish your look.
Wearing a bonnet in professional settings is unkempt, point blank. In your work environment, whether in person, or virtually, you are not only judged on your performance, but your appearance too. Looking messy is never good! And the only thing anti-black is this urge to equate wearing inside clothes for outside to see, and championing for the right to look disheveled.
What say you? Will you be wearing a bonnet on your next video call? Why or why not?