The Bigger the Hoops, the Bigger the Self-Discovery

How a piece of jewelry helped me confront white supremacy.

Natalia Aldana
Published in
7 min readOct 13, 2021


Photo by Robin Gislain Gessy on Unsplash

One of my favorite photos of myself is from high school. I’m standing in a pumpkin patch wearing dramatically big gold hoop earrings, my natural curls, and a frown. (Do you just love my fall-themed intro, or what?)

I thought of this photo last month when my therapist asked me when I last felt like my authentic self — the version of me that I expressed honestly and without shame to the world. The memory of this imagery was a surprise.

And when I thought of this photo, I so clearly saw those hoop earrings, a type of jewelry I loved, but soon stopped wearing for almost 15 years.

Throwback anecdote

I can’t remember when and why I started wearing hoops, but ask me if I wore them every day, and I’ll say often.

I went to high school in the mid-2000s, as the Bay Area’s counter-culture Hyphy movement exploded all around me. I was a teenager embodying what I saw as the style of my time: white tees and Air Force 1s, big chains and stunna shades, lots of drugstore gel to smooth down our bangs, NBA jerseys and NFL hats, velour and two-piece tracksuits, and way too many puffy jackets for California weather.

“See in the bay area we dance a lil different.”

Mac Dre told us that, and we brought that sense of originality to everything we did, especially our style.

The clothing we wear says as much about our roots as it does our desire to belong to something meaningful. I understand now that clothing is more than just fabric stitched together — our clothes are symbols of pride.

But I stopped wearing hoop earrings and abandoned the style that once made me feel powerful soon after that pumpkin patch. It wasn’t a decision I spent much time on, but I know it wasn’t because I stopped liking the style.

I have never not wanted to be Latina, and I have never shied away from acknowledging my roots. But after leaving my nest, I started to feel that I had to appear “professional” to make it out there. Curly hair, big hoops, and the like didn’t seem to fit that bill.



Natalia Aldana
Writer for

La cultura, media, race, astrology and lifestyle. Brooklyn-based journalist with thick thoughts.