There had been a lot of commentary about people’s outward appearance in public, specifically comments on women wearing sleep bonnets and scarves on their heads, wearing sleepwear and house shoes out in public. Ordinarily, I don’t discuss things like this on my blog. I don’t usually make commentary on pop culture or what’s happening in the news, but I believe strongly in putting your best foot forward and taking pride in your appearance. It really is important, and people ALWAYS notice.
Comedian Mo’Nique posted a video in May about something she saw while she was traveling in an airport. If you had not seen the video, she basically addresses black women who wear bonnets, slippers and pajamas out in public. She expressed how it was not a good look and she posted a photo of the woman to try to explain her point. This topic was also tied to race – as she was addressing black women specifically. Unfortunately, I think many people were too worried about the messenger to focus on the message.
Let me just start by saying that this is not the first time something like this has happened in the news. In 2019, Carlotta Outley Brown, the principal of a high school in Houston, Texas created a dress code for parents to essentially prevent parents from coming to school in sleepwear, bonnets, pajamas or any kind of clothing that is deemed inappropriate. I commend Mrs. Brown as I’ve seen first-hand how parents can sometimes show up to school to conduct business on their child’s behalf looking like they just rolled out of bed, down the stairs, and out the door. Appearance matters. It is troubling the principal had to take the position and address this issue, but it needed to be said.
With all this going on, to my surprise (or not) many women were voicing their displeasure about the position Mo ‘Nique and Mrs. Brown took. I saw three consistent responses:
(1) Women absolutely up in arms about how they can wear whatever they please. This is a true statement.
(2) Women upset because they don’t want to be policed. Ok this may be a valid point.
(3) Women claiming that it is not only acceptable, but also cultural. I do not agree.
The question that needs to be asked is why are some women fighting so hard to look bad in public?
Food for Thought…
You have the right to show up in life however you want. However, just because you CAN do something doesn’t mean you necessarily SHOULD.
It seems some women are almost daring for someone to challenge their right to be less than their best. How ridiculous. When you show up at your child’s school in a onesie (true story…a bunny onesie and it was not even Halloween) or your hair is all over your head, believe me you are not showing that you respect yourself or you respect your children. You’re not and there’s no way you can spin this around. Show up as a concerned parent, a loving parent, one that respects themselves, and their children. When you are running errands, shopping, traveling, try your absolute best to show up as your best self and be presentable.
To the women who want to pick and choose and say people should be able to look beyond what you are wearing…I believe you can agree, if you are being completely honest that it’s not realistic, nor is it something you personally probably even subscribe to. At the end of the day-we all judge on outward appearances. Everyone does it.
As humans we’re visual creatures and we judge just about everything. This whole idea where we want to believe that people aren’t judging us by our appearance is foolish. When you go into a hospital you expect the nurses and the doctors to have a certain physical appearance coupled with knowledge. Whether they are dressed in white coats or medical scrubs with a stethoscope around their neck, appearance does matter. Truth be told, what’s in their brain matters more, but you don’t know what’s in their brain initially. The first contact you have with that person opens the door for everything else. Would you feel that your doctor 🩺 is competent if he came into the room to talk to you about your medical history wearing a construction tool belt 🛠👷🏾♂️and a construction hat? No, of course not. This doctor could have been the world’s best surgeon or the world’s best physician but if outward appearance does not match who he claims to be representing – you will have doubts and be skeptical of their abilities. If you walked into your bank trying to get a loan for mortgage or even a car loan and the loan officer was behind the desk was dressed in a bikini, would you take this bank serious? Absolutely not. The same thing happens for us in our everyday lives.
No one is saying that you must go out into the world every day with a full face of makeup or hair like you just left the salon, but appearance matters. Looking like you put some effort into your presentation is all that is being asked. Our sons and daughters are watching us – learning from what we do – not from what we say. I don’t have the answer as to why so many people today feel comfortable leaving their house looking less than put together. Believe me I’m not looking to revisit the strict rules of dress for women we had in the past either, for example- gloved hands, dresses only👗, pumps or heeled shoes👠. Just presentability. Somehow, we developed an entire generation where it became the social norm for so many to be out of the house looking less than put together. But it’s not too late.
The question is where, as a collective did we go wrong when there are women out here fighting tooth and nail for the right, yes I said it, the right to be less than their best selves. There are women fighting for the right to show their children that putting your best foot forward is not important. Ladies and gentlemen, I don’t agree with this. I said gentlemen too because within this topic there are many men who can in my opinion benefit from this message (sagging pants👖 and du rags). That is for another day and another blog post😉.
For the ladies who are ok with this type of dress in public, what exactly are you defending ladies? The right to NOT put your best foot forward. That is something I just don’t understand, and I can’t wrap my head around. So many women were upset because they are being asked to be presentable while in public and in many cases being asked to set a good example for their children. What sense does that make to fight for the right to be less than presentable? Use your fight and voice for something worthy.
Don’t fight for the right to be less than your best.
With so much in this world we can’t control, such as a coronavirus, global warming, financial crisis, etc. this is something that is TOTALLY within our power and sphere of control.
There are also ladies who have chimed in on the discussion stemming from Mo’ Nique’s video who use the excuse of having young children, being busy or running late for coming out of the house dressed in sleepwear, bonnets or house shoes. I’ve also heard the excuse about poverty being a factor. I’m not buying it. I don’t agree with these excuses. To these same ladies I would ask when the last time they dressed in this manner for church, their jobs, or the club. The answer is NEVER!!! Because they know it’s inappropriate no matter how busy you are with your children, how late they’re running, or their financial status. They would NEVER do it.
Fashion Policing and Respectability Politics
Respectability politics aside, remember there is a distinct difference between the head wrap, which is meant to be worn outside, (can be dressed up and can be as fashionable on a bride in a wedding or to wore to work) and the hair bonnets intended for sleep.
Silk and satin hair bonnets certainly have a wonderful place and serve a purpose for women. I personally own several and use them at night. Silk and satin pillowcases work well too and for the same purpose. These bonnets keep your hair from frizziness, breakage and help maintain your hairstyle.
Head wraps and Gele serve the purpose of style and in some cases are tied to tradition.
I am aware that some women wear sleep bonnets in public when they are in between salon visits. I assure you whatever you are working with naturally looks better than going out with sleepwear on your head.
No matter what race or ethnic group you belong to, the message I’m sending is clear and is the same – always put your best foot forward. Always. No matter what. Clean. Neat. Respectable. Presentable.
But What About…Outliers???
There are those people, the outliers, who physically are unable to do this and people that mentally can’t do this. I respect that and I understand it. There are people out there who have certain forms of depression where they are not able (at this stage) to put their best foot forward. I also get that there are people in a medical circumstance where they can’t put their best foot forward, I get that. I’m not talking about these people.
I’m talking about folks that have the means and the ability but are CHOOSING to be less than what they can be.
Now what – What’s the point of all this???
Ladies you don’t have to leave your house looking like a beauty queen or like you are in a pageant – that’s not the point. The point is to have your best foot forward always. It’s simple and presenting yourself outside of your home with sleepwear is not your best foot forward.
Please do not take the message to the deep end of the spectrum. Just asking that you have pride in your appearance.
When you look good you tend to feel better about yourself. Whenever you take a moment to wash your face, put some lotion on your skin, do your hair, wear clean, wrinkle free appropriate clothing, you’ve essentially said:
I take care of myself.
I take pride in myself.
I respect myself; therefore, I expect you to do the same to me.
Am I saying that we should not respect people that don’t agree with this type of ideology? Absolutely not. Everybody deserves respect. However, we tend to have a little more respect, compassion, and overall reverence for people who look like they showed up on purpose.
There is a saying that you should look good enough to run into your worse enemy. If that doesn’t resonate with you, consider that you may meet someone you may deem important for the first time and first impressions are everything. There are no do overs for a first impression. Stay ready so you don’t have to get ready.
I appreciate you and look forward to your comments.
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Until next time.
Be Polished. Be Alluring. Be Elegant. Be You.
Be Unapologetically You.
Modern Feminine Life