How many of you are familiar with the bonnet, the night cap, or silk head wraps? If you’ve grown up as a Black woman, chances are you’ve been wearing them since forever to keep your hair healthy while you sleep. But, as many white women have previously done with so many aspects of POC style (see: wigs, box braids, nameplate necklaces), the usually $5 beauty store staple has succumbed to the hands of appropriation via the $98 NiteCap that has many people (rightfully) livid.
Sarah Marantz Lindenberg is in hot water for “inventing” the NiteCapCo, which is basically a silk bonnet meant to “preserve her hair and complexion”—a.k.a the same product Black women have been using for decades to keep hair damage at bay. Though nightcaps and bonnets have existed far beyond the inception of Lindberg’s adaptation, she claims to have gotten the idea “while planning her wedding,” according to her brand’s website.
Here’s the problem: 1) Lindenberg did not credit the idea to Black women, who have been wearing these bonnets well before NiteCapCo’s “creation,” and 2) The price is absolutely ridiculous. As such, the virtual community has been weighing in—and they’re not pleased. “Understandably so, people are not too pleased by the invention mainly because it’s nothing new for Black women who’ve been using this ‘hack’ for decades,” The Shade Room captioned in an Instagram post. “In addition to that, there was no reference or mention of inspiration to the history of bonnets and where this idea originated from. Of course we can’t forget the outrageous price.”
In response to the backlash, NiteCapCo released a statement on Instagram. “NiteCap was developed because I was searching for a product that looked and performed exactly the way I wanted, for my own personal use…” it states. “A small business grew quickly, but in the process I failed to connect it back to the broader historical context. We stand with those who are hurt, and we respect and hear their voices. We’re committed to honoring the historical significance of hair wrapping and this will now be part of our approach.”
Will this apology be enough to repair the damage? Most likely not. The lesson here is clear: Do your research, and give credit where credit is due.