The Bigger the Hoops, the Bigger The...
Identity politics: The power of the hoop earring
Those that know me well understand that hoop earrings are a big part of my aesthetic. For example:
I love rocking big gold hoops for a night out dancing.
I gained the nickname “Hoops” during a play I did from the minute I walked into the audition with my hoops swinging strong.
I’ve been very vocal about waiting for Apple to add a hoops emoji since they decided to add curly hair.
They are an accessory I flaunt and obviously have strong feelings about, given I’m writing a whole entire post about them. Basically... I don’t mess around when it comes to my hoops.
MORE THAN A LEWK
My love for hoops is not merely based on my sense of fashion. Nor are they chosen as an afterthought as something I just “throw on” before heading out the door. Putting on hoop earrings is a deliberate decision to own my brown skin and post up an image that says, “Yes. I am wearing large hoops and they are loud but I don’t care if they make you laugh or feel uncomfortable.” I put on hoops despite knowing that some people think they look too ghetto or like I’m seeking attention.
In the last year, I’ve been shying away from my go-to giant hoops and opting for more conservative versions. I bought a pair of tiiiiny gold hoops in Mexico City (later to lose them in an Uber—I’m still mad about it) and love the hoops I received in my Spiritu subscription box this spring because they are less loud and more tame. I believe I’ve been attracted to smaller hoops because I’ve tried to simplify my look to appear neutral (a.k.a., non-threatening POC), especially when going to commercial auditions that appeal to the mainstream. The fear of appearing unapproachable crosses my mind despite my small frame and generally friendly demeanor.
Other instances where I find myself opting for smaller hoops:
- Meeting a friend’s white boyfriend so I don’t look like a ho, making her look less like a ho by having classy AF friends
- Going on a date with a white guy so I come across as “cool, let’s experiment with dating a dark chick” vs “damn, I don’t know if I can handle this much ethnic”
- Walking a dog in Brentwood
- Going to Whole Foods (in general), but especially in Brentwood
- Basically existing in Brentwood
BUT WHERE IS THIS VOICE COMING FROM?
Who made me think that smaller hoops = less threatening = more acceptable?
Who made me think that smaller hoops = less ghetto = more professional?
Who made me think that smaller hoops = less hoedom = trustworthy wingwoman?
As you can tell, I’m a little bit psycho in my over-analysis of hoop earrings. But it’s been a growing obsession especially since they seem to be popping up all over (per the 90s fashion throwback). Especially on white women or in mainstream media and advertising. But when they are presented on a white girl, hoops come across as edgy or trendy. Urban cool. And given that hip hop is the new pop, I shouldn’t be surprised.
So am I just using this post as an excuse to bash on white women who wear hoops and scream, “CULTURAL APPROPRIATION IS REAL!”
No. I am not in the business of negatively judging others’ choices of expression. It’s merely an observation that I think is important to point out. And sure, you might be thinking, they are just earrings, who cares? But it seems to be a trend in our country to have the same thing take on different meaning depending on who is behind it.
Selling weed is bad when brown and black people do it.
But MedMen is cool and vibey and designed like an Apple store.
Drug addiction within the projects spurs a War on drugs.
But opioid addiction is an Epidemic.
Hoops worn by Latinas or black women is ghetto, ratchet, and hood.
Hoops worn by others is edgy, trendy and cool.
I could go on and on about the injustices in the world, and how different races or ethnicities are viewed by society. But instead, I’m going to do better about not believing the narrative that’s been presented. I’m gonna get radical.
Maybe I should wear large hoops to church and believe my soul can still feel the Lord’s blessings.
Maybe I should wear large hoops to a country music bar in Nashville.
Maybe I should wear large hoops to my dream job interview where all the bosses are white.
Maybe I should wear large hoops to a casting for the role of “business professional”... hell, even “CEO."
Maybe I should wear large hoops on my goddamn wedding day even if I marry a white guy who’s fam is all Amish. (JK, hope that never happens.)
Maybe I should wear large hoops and not care that a white girl probably has the same pair and puts them on without blinking an eye.
I can’t control how others view me. But I can control how I view myself, and how I make myself feel when choosing how to present myself to the world.
And today, I’m thinking the bigger the hoops, the bigger the smile on my face for being loud and proud of who I am.
Halogen - Nordstrom Rack Queen Hoops - Fashion Nova Twisted Gold Hoops - Madewell
“Hoops,” short video
Written and directed by: Mikki Hernandez
Featuring: Mikki Hernandez and Valentina
Director of Photography: Cody Buchanan
Edited by: Cody Buchanan and Mikki Hernandez
Produced by: All of the above