The Durag and Bonnet: A Duo Modernizing Love for Black Hair
Like a traditional ’90s rom-com, we love the makings of a love story. By the tip of the film, the pair has all the time bonded collectively after going via one thing. We witness the identical symbolism with regards to the durag and bonnet. The long-lasting duo in Black magnificence are synonymous with energy in vulnerability. By means of cultural celebrations, the durag and bonnet have modernized our love for Black hair.
The long-lasting duo has been styled for pink carpets, graced journal covers, and appeared in music movies and movies. They have been on the heart of Black magnificence rituals for generations. Celeb hairstylist and founding father of Brush with the Finest, Felicia Leatherwood, shares “It is a staple for us. It is the very first thing we seize earlier than going to mattress at evening. Each the durag and the bonnet preserve our hair intact.”
The English dictionary describes the bonnet as a “hat” and the Merriam-Webster dictionary calls a durag (spelled do-rag) “a close-fitting, usually stretchable piece of material that’s worn on the pinnacle (as to carry a coiffure in place), and that often has lengthy ends that are tied within the again.” Neither definition does the accent justice. For Black folks, “it is paying homage to soul meals for the hair,” explains Larry Sims, a star hairstylist and the co-founder of Flawless by Gabrielle Union. “It is a type of issues that always reminds you of childhood—and the way we develop and deal with our hair.”
Whereas we are able to respect the great thing about the duo now, the bonnet and durag have not all the time been celebrated. Entrenched in racist stereotyping, the hair equipment have confronted some turbulence. Extra than simply “material,” each the durag and bonnet are as complicated to historical past because the molecular construction of Black hair itself.
Birthed from oppression, the concept of overlaying the pinnacle was initially offered by Black feminine slaves as a type of perform after they labored within the fields. Then, housekeepers donned the headwrap as a an emblem of servitude. It illustrated rank within the family. It quickly turned unlawful for Black ladies to go away the home with out their hair lined with the inception of legal guidelines just like the Negro Act of 1735 in South Carolina.1
This positioning in historical past has motioned a fragile connection between the hair equipment and generations-long discrimination.
Even in immediately’s panorama, the pair (particularly the durag) have been demonized by society and mainstream media. “There’s something referred to as ‘social categorization’ in psychology, the place we place people into classes. What has occurred over years, via conditioning, is folks have perceived the durag to be synonymous with gang tradition or adverse stereotypes,” explains Dion Terrelonge, a chartered academic psychologist a style psychology lecturer. Terrelonge explains the connection: “When one factor seems concurrently one thing else, which may very well be innocent or impartial, our minds start to affiliate the 2 collectively.” Leatherwood provides, “Mainstream media associates durags and bonnets with being ‘unkempt.’,”
Moreover, it is common to see somebody take away their bonnet earlier than answering the door or leaving the home, which, in accordance with Terrelonge sends a dangerous message: “It affords this narrative of hiding your Blackness, that it is a shameful factor,” she says, including, “I believe the durag and bonnet have traditionally been objects in our tradition which are a bit too ‘Black’ for the broader inhabitants.”
However, in contrast to what society has tried to challenge onto us, each the durag and the bonnet are iconic symbols inside the group. “It is a pure a part of our tradition, it is a type of issues we are able to relate to at least one one other with,” Leatherwood explains. In some methods, it is a proper of passage.
Greater than only a piece with cultural significance, the bonnet and the durag are sensible and useful components of our magnificence routines. It will probably lay down edges, preserve them neat, and protect a number of hair types from friction and breakage. In its rightful glory, the enduring duo connects generations of practices rooted in Blackness. “There have been so many occasions all through historical past which have torn us away and tried to tug our roots with it. Our grooming practices bond us. Over generations, regardless of what corners of the globe we have been dragged to, we’ve been capable of protect our hair and its practices,” Terrelonge says.
Now, social media helps lead the cost in celebrating the bonnet and durag. There are numerous accounts and movies sharing the great thing about what the duo can do. “The durag and the bonnet symbolize how we love ourselves—I really like that it has been translated via the generations with out being watered down,” says Sims.
Worn both in the home or as a style accent, fashionable Black tradition has positioned the bonnet and durag as an emblem of reclamation. it is helped to shift the dated narrative and validate the love story untold in Black hair, till now.