I feel a style resurgence coming on ….
I’ve been wanting to write a little something about hoop earrings for a few months now and as I was doing research and curating pieces, I felt increasingly drawn to curating some Bamboo earrings (Door Knockers if you prefer) for the Spring/Summer season; you know Door Knocker (Bamboo) earrings: Bold, statement-making, usually metallic gold earrings shaped liked door knockers, popularized in the mid to late 1980s. I followed that urge and found some empowering history; major cultural relevance surrounding the love of Hoop and Bamboo earrings and the necessity of having them in your Jewelry wardrobe.
Hoop History 101:
Let's take it all the way back to fourth-century Africa: the birthplace of the hoop earring.
Around 2500 B.C.E, the Nubia civilization, located in what is now present-day Northern Sudan, was the first to rock the hoop earring. It was afterward adopted by the ancient Egyptians. Men, women, Kings, Queens and Pharaohs alike, adorned the fashion statement, not only as a fashion statement but also a symbol of cultural status. According to author and associate curator of Egyptian art at the Brooklyn Museum, Yekaterina Barbash, “Hoop earrings originated in Africa, dating back to Nubia … the earrings were seen as something that enhanced one’s beauty and sexuality.”
So far we know
From the beginning of time our ancestors saw hoops as “something that enhanced one’s beauty and sexuality.”
Over time fashion, style and Freedoms evolved. But traditions did not, in many Caribbean Islands it was customary to give a newborn baby girl her first set of hoop earring upon her birth. In the 60’s and 70’s women of color were wearing hoop earrings, which “became associated with African beauty,” Vogue Editor at Large Andre Leon Talley said, according to The New York Times. Further the during the Black Power movement in the 60’s and 70’s, hoop earrings along with black women embracing Afro-Centric and natural hairstyles became symbols of resistance, strength, beauty and identity.
Slide into the mainstream Bamboo Earring trend of the 80’s and 90’s: This is where it (the trend) all began, although the earrings had been around forever it was during this time, they became a mainstream trend. It was in the mid 1980s that we saw the first renditions of the bold, statement-making, earrings. They were sold in beauty supply stores in urban areas across America for just a few dollars and became an instant favorite amongst women of color.
Door knockers essentially became a mainstream trend, when female hip hop stars like Salt-n-Pepa, MC Lyte, and Roxanne Shante stepped into the spotlight and rocked them hard, wearing them everywhere from red carpets to their music videos. And of course, we cannot forget to thank LL Cool J for amplifying the trend (and loving on Black and Brown women in the process) with his lyrical stamp of approval in his 1990 summer hit “Around the Way Girl”.
All together now
“I want a girl with extensions in her hair. Bamboo earrings. At least two pair. A Fendi bag and a bad attitude That's all I need to get me in a good mood …”
~ LL Cool J ~
Side Note: Hands down this was one of the greatest songs and music videos for my 11/12 year-old self to watch.
Bamboo earrings were created in a multitude of styles and shapes: horseshoe, door knocker, round, hearts, rope twists and the most memorable name plates among many more. Regardless of the style, the bamboo earring has remained a prominent jewelry staple for good reason. It represents a powerful symbol of ancient African civilization, with deep-rooted connections to the Black Power Movement, Hip Hop culture and music. For many women of color (Black and Latina) who sport it, it also serves as a symbol of resistance. Blogger and designer Kelli Shami wrote. “For many, they are a symbol of resistance, and for many others, they are a celebration of ethnicity.”
Door knocker and hoop earrings originated in communities of color. They are still a tribute to the culture. So, when we all rock hoops as women, we want you to remember the historical symbol of strength, boldness and sexiness they hold. We want to embrace women of any culture wearing hoop earrings to show our collectivity.