It was once a requirement in the Catholic Church that women cover their heads in Church. The forms of covering ranged from a mantilla to a hat or a simple headscarf. Today most Catholic women do not wear head covering in Church, but many traditionalist Catholic Women do. This covering of the head was seen as a sign of subordination to God. Culture plays an important role in the way one may dress and behave in Church. Wearing elaborate hats to Church is an African American tradition. Every Sunday in the African American Church going community, faith and fashion unite. Today the face of the Catholic Church is very different from what it was many years ago; Catholic congregations are very multicultural and multifaceted. When it comes to head covering and dress, the Church is filled with many different cultural and individual fashion statements.

People are wearing hats, scarves, feathers, caps, tattooed shaven heads, hot pants, halter tops, tank tops, midriff tops, blue jeans, tennis shoes, flip flops, suits, shorts, long dresses, short dresses, shorter dresses and the list goes on and on. Personally, I am proud of the “dress up for the Lord” tradition of African Americans and hope that it gets passed on to the next generation. The statement African American women make with their hats is “Look how the Lord has Blessed me.”

Kathleen Merritt