Today I was asked “Can I touch your hair?”

 

About a month ago I read an article “Can I touch it? The fascination with natural, African-American hair“. Many natural hair bloggers blogged about this article, twitter was jumping with many sharing their experiences of people touching their hair, whether they were asked or not. At the time of reading this article I hadn’t had an experience that I could actually reflect on which was related. 

Well, today I had my experience. While waiting on some items to be inventoried at a consignment shop a lady approached me and asked “Is that your real hair”? I responded, yes. She said, “naw for real”, and before she could get “let me touch it” completely out of her mouth she had her hand in my head. She did not only touch my hair, she dug her hand all the way in feeling around until she could feel my scalp.

Obviously her actions proved that she thought I was lying when I told her yes this is all my hair and she was checking for tracks.

I was so taken aback by her being so bold to abruptly approach a stranger, invade my personal space and all but molest my head, leaving me feeling quite violated. In the moment I was a bit shocked and caught off guard but I had to chuckling a little because all I could think about was the article Can I touch it? 

The brief conversation that she and I had after that incident solidified for me that there is so much education that needs to happen about natural black hair, especially within the community.

So much of how black women value beauty, self worth and image is wrapped around our hair. For so many decades we have been conditioned to believe that straight hair is beautiful and natural hair texture that is curly, kinky or coils is nappy which equals ugly. The whole train of thinking, negative point of views about black hair and it being nappy etc. is heart breaking to me.

Because I’m choosing to wear my hair in it’s natural texture, which may in some ways go against what is considered  acceptable or the norm by society, does not grant a license for others who are either curious, intrigued or just down right ignorant about natural black hair and the varying textures to be so obtrusive or rude.

In addition to the education that I believe needs to happen, a lot of healing needs to take place so that women can be more accepting of their own unique beauty that God has granted each of us.

Have you ever had an experience similar to this?

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Comments

  1. I knew I wasn’t alone in this, and it makes me giggle… NOW. I used get really upset and cringe at the thought that people could be so disrespectful but I now, like you Lori, I am willing to be part of the education. We can change the negative stereotype within ourselves about our hair. Thanks Lori.

    • Janine, It happens to me regularly. I am more in shock or surprised when a stranger just grabs my hair than mad or upset. I believe that a lot of education needs to happen for sure.

  2. You know, Lori, I almost kinda not get surprised anymore when I get asked that same question. Usually, it’s out of curiosity for the people with straight hair, asking that. Some even go as far as reaching to touch – before getting a response.

  3. I have not experienced this, but after reading this article, I’m going to brace myself for it to happen at any time. Also, there is a documentary coming out called Dark Skin. I don’t have all the details, but that will address perceptions of natural hair. And yes, education and healing is needed in our community. And this article was just the beginning.

    • Hi Marcie,

      Thank you for your comment. I will be looking for the documentary Dark Skin, sounds interesting.

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