Hoop earrings criticised as cultural appropriation

'A style that links so heavily with identity is not taken seriously until it is seen on a white woman' 

Rachel Hosie
Tuesday 17 October 2017 09:11 BST
Model Hailey Baldwin in hoop earrings
Model Hailey Baldwin in hoop earrings (Getty Images)

Along with hair scrunchies, ripped jeans and body glitter, hoop earrings are, to many people, simply a current fashion trend.

To others, however, they carry a lot more meaning, and one woman has now called out hoop earrings as a form of cultural appropriation.

Ruby Pivet is a Latina writer who has suggested that hoop earrings should be seen in the same light as bindis, braids and Native American headdresses.

“Hoops exist across many minority groups as symbols of resistance, strength and identity,” she wrote for Vice. “I was three years old when my paternal grandparents visited Australia for the first time, the gift of hoop earrings in tow.

“Much to my grandmother’s horror, my ears were un-pierced. During her visit, that changed. I began to navigate the world as a first generation Australian of mixed heritage, small gold hoops dangling from my earlobes.”

In the UK, hoop earrings certainly haven’t always been seen as particularly fashionable items - who can forget Catherine Tate’s chavvy schoolgirl character Lauren from the early noughties, who was always sporting large hoop earrings to accessorise her school uniform?

But in recent years, they’ve been given a new lease of life by edgy, young, stylish women, many of whom are white.

“In the grand scheme of things, hoop earrings may seem insignificant,” Pivet says. “But seeing white women wearing them is unnerving. White girls did not start the ‘trend’ of over-sized hoop earrings and yet they’re the ones being praised for donning the ‘edgy’ style.

“Meanwhile, women of colour who wear them face racial stereotypes or the assumption that they’re participating in a disposable trend.”

Taylor Swift in her video for Shake It Off

She explains how last month, Vogue decreed that wearing gold hoops with an up-do was the ultimate summer pairing. The fashion bible said that the trend had been started by a group of mainly white models too.

“A style that links so heavily with identity is not taken seriously until it is seen on a white woman,” Pivet writes.

She’s by no means the only one to feel this way.

In March this year, three Latina students sparked controversy when they painted a mural asking white classmates to stop wearing hoops at their college near LA.

“Because it’s cute and aesthetic when they wear hoop earrings, but it’s ghetto and hard for us to be taken seriously when black and brown bodies wear them,” one of the students responsible for the writing, Alegria Martinez, wrote on her Instagram account.

“White girls, take off your hoops, stop calling yourself mami and start respecting our existence.”

But the mural was met with much confusion on the part of white people.

“Women of colour from all walks of life and cultures have been wearing hoops long before white models whose careers were born of nepotism wore them in Instagram posts,” Pivet says.

“It’s only a matter of time before latinx style gets stale and hoops are declared over in favour of a new accessory.”

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