Despite my role as the owner and CEO of a Fashion Media company, I generally stay out of the fray. I try not to openly express judgment, and am very live and let live, adhering to the tenet, “judge not, lest ye be judged.” I generally look the other way or shake my head to myself when I go through the airport and see my fellow sisters, sometimes groups of them, wearing bonnets. But now that Monique has taken to Instagram to urge these young ladies to present themselves in a respectable manner, I must say that I completely agree with her. My fellow Black Women: Please stop wearing bonnets in public!
Monique’s argument is that we should take pride in our appearance and treat ourselves like Queens. Also, how we present ourselves in the world often times determines how the world treats us. If all were equal, if we weren’t still fighting to affirm the value of our lives to this day, perhaps we could have a bit more freedom of expression. But, we don’t. On a recent trip to Miami, I experienced slight racial aggression. A woman clutched her bag when I approached as if I wanted to steal it from her (first she moved the bag to the other side of her body, then clutched it for dear life. I wanted to be like, ‘Ma’am, my belt costs more than your whole outfit, but I digress:)).
I always come dressed when I go to the airport because 1. My Dad is a pilot (in fact, he will let you know that he is the 15th black pilot to be hired at a commercial airline in the United States) and we always had to dress up and 2. I represent for my brand and I may run into a reader or a potential business contact. So, this woman’s actions didn’t make sense to me. But then as I sat down and saw two black women, with bonnets on, talking loudly and complaining about waiting to get their seat, I thought to myself that perhaps the white woman who looked at me as a thief just had a skewed view of black women because the majority of what she sees gives her a negative impression. Or maybe it was all in my mind. You never know.
Clothes are our way to communicate our values and our station in life. Clothes can sometimes garner respect. How you present yourself matters. And as the fight for true equality in our country continues, I’d encourage all of us to put our best foot forward in all situations.
Aside from ‘respectability politics,’ how about stepping outside with a certain standard of excellence and self respect? Why not adhere to a certain dress code? When I was younger, as I mentioned, in order to fly, we had to wear close toed shoes, slacks, and a top (this is if we wanted to angle to be seated in first class). At my high school, I was once sent home for wearing a skirt that was too short. Perhaps we can blame it on the airport and airlines for not enforcing some sort of dress code, which means that it really is, “Come as you are.” Unless there are real consequences attached to coming to the airport in your bedroom clothes, little is likely to change.
Someone in our comments asked, “How is one is supposed to dress to go to the airport?” I, for one, have worn headscarves and headbands, which are a great alternative. You can wear sneakers and jeans (I clearly save my Zanotti sneakers for the airport though they are a little dirty! I am so not a sneaker head and don’t take care of my sneakers and probably only wear them in the airport. I’ve tried heels in the airport–bad idea and not worth it!). You don’t have to be perfect, just presentable. And if you’re going outside, leave the pajamas, slippers, and bonnets for the bedroom.
Love & Light,
- I never post my airport pix to IG, but behold some of my recent looks. Simple, casual, but no PJs!!