In the Black community, if you want to preserve your hair, whether it’s a silk press or worn natural, a trip to your local beauty salon is exactly what you need. For under $5.00, you can head into the store and come out with a black satin bonnet. The bonnet has been used for a long time in our community to combat the friction of our hair against abrasive bed linens. The constant movement of your head against your cotton pillowcase when you are sleeping can lead to loss of moisture and your hair shafts becoming quite frizzy. The bonnet helps prevent all of this.
Imagine my surprise when Fashion Magazine posted a story on founder Sarah Marantz Lindenberg who “created” NiteCap. The article describes it as “a washable silk hair wrap that aims to protect both skin and hair, and makes you look like Greta Garbo circa 1930.”
This is straight up FOOLISHNESS! Now that a white woman is marketing something black woman have worn (and perfected) for at least ALL MY 46 YEARS, it’s a THING? GTFOH!
— I Am NikkiFree (@iamnikkifree) July 21, 2019
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They said Greta Garbo and I’m sure your Auntie Denise is rolling over in her grave (while wearing her bonnet) at another attempt for white people to not only co-opt, but also profit off of our culture. The NiteCap will cost you $98.00 and is available in five colors, including black, pink, navy, bone, and red. The cap is cute, featuring an oversize bow but at $98.00, I would never. And while we are most likely not even the audience Lindenberg is attempting to sell to, at least she is using and featuring a Black model on the website.
The ‘About Us’ section explains the origin of the idea, “During her pregnancy with twin girls, Sarah was required to go on bed rest – allowing her time to grow the idea of silk sleepwear for hair. She was inspired by the delicate benefits of this luxurious fabric along with the rich history of hair wrapping.”
The rich history of hair wrapping is history for Black women. In the United States, particularly Louisiana, the Tignon Laws forced Black women to wear head wraps because our hair and its intricate styling was considered a threat to the status quo. In Africa, Black women have been wrapping their hair for centuries wearing styles for both celebratory and every day situations. It would have been nice if Lindenberg shared more details about the “rich history” that led her to be so inspired.
Lindenberg isn’t the only perpetrator. SILKE London sells hair wraps for $65.00 with retailers like Revolve supporting the brand (and using a white woman as the model). In the “About Us” section, the London based hair care brand describes the founder as a “London hairstylist” with “Mediterranean and Caribbean descent.”
It’s not to say that Black women are the only individuals that can play in this space; however, by ignoring the inspiration and historical references of the style, is literal erasure of Black culture. At minimum, these brands need to acknowledge the culture.
What do you think? Are these brands in the wrong? Would you pay $65.00 to $100.00 for a silk bonnet? Sound off in the comment section.
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