Keep Your Hands Off The Hair

One of the ladies (hey clbussie!!) on NaturallyCurly.com posted this article in the threads, and I just had to add it to my blog. This is EXACTLY what I was talking about a few posts ago in “Caring for Your Friend’s Natural Hair.” Not sure who told people it was okay to touch total strangers (or even friends), but someone needed to put it out there. I’m not sure if I totally agree with the racist aspect of it, BUT people do touch natural (big curly afro fun hair!) hair more than straight. Actually, it’s more like petting you… yea, not cool. What do you guys think? Either way, Michel, you are absolutely correct – thank you so much for writing this!

Keep Your Hands Off The Hair

March 22, 2010

Woman's Afro

Enlarge iStockphoto

March 22, 2010

Today, we hear from Tell Me More guest host Allison Keyes.

This week we’re going to talk about hair. To touch — or not to touch, that is the question.

And as far as I’m concerned the answer is nearly always, no.

OK — let me explain why this really annoys me.

I’m African-American, and I wear my hair natural. That means in an Afro, or in twists, or some other style that showcases my kinky hair in the tight curls in which it grows from my scalp. It is not chemically straightened. In other words — think India.Arie — NOT Beyonce!

And for the past few weeks, I’ve been rocking an Afro puff: a round fluffy puff perched atop a braided or twisted up-do. It is fierce!

And I must admit — the texture does look inviting to touch. But walking up and palming my puff?! Particularly without permission? Can I Just Tell YOU — speaking colloquially — that is not cool.

I think it is a race issue — as well as a personal space issue. The space issue seems obvious. I see it as a violation as unwanted as those who approach pregnant women — hands out — and start rubbing their bellies.

Read the rest here…

9 comments

  1. I agree that it is a violation of one’s body and space when anyone comes and just touches you without giving any forms of permission. It is also know in our culture that people should not touch our hair period whether natural or straight. It becomes more offensive to us when it is a person of another race who just simply feel entitled to do rather than to ask. In my experience, I’ve had people afraid to touch my hair and others to reach up and just touch in thinking it’s OK that I would not snapped back at them. For me I feel it is OK for people to touch my hair unless I am having a bad hair day. I am really reeling inside to don’t think to touch me and even I don’t touch my hair. When it is flowing and looking pretty hot, I touch it to some degree. I do not mind someone to touch but I prefer someone to ask. Don’t just dive all your fingers in there and start pulling on it.

    I do not like petting the hair at all. To me it is like petting the head. I think it is worse for strangers to do this than friends IMO. I see with friends you may feel a little bit more comfortable to let them touch or feel the texture/curl pattern of yoru hair versus someone you completely don’t know off the street. It is a personal preference. I think we take pride in our hair that we don’t feel the need for anyone to take this away from us. I think it is cool if people of other races are curious about our hair which they will never have similar hair or to fully understand our hair. There are so many hair myths out there I feel about our hair that people automatically feel the need to test the myth themselves.

    The last person who wanted to touch my curls I had the KCCC in my hair and felt crunchy so I was hesitant and automatically stepped back to not let her reach up and touch. Probably due to fear of her feeling the product than the hair itself. If they say they love my hair, I feel OK by this comment. I am always caught off guard if someone just touch while they are already talking about my hair and I cannot get a word in to say. Hey when did I say you could do this? Like I said I’ve had people who wanted to stand back from me and my hair. With comments, “What is up with her hair?” referring to white people that a supervisor told me. She had to pull me aside to talk to me about it which I assume on their behalf. I did not stop wearing my hair the way I wanted because they felt uncomfortable or how it would represent them.

    It is true when your hair is straight, people are less willing to touch. The questions are how long it took you to straightening it comes up often. With my natural hair, I had the question of what do you put on it? As to say that we must only use products to get an effect on our hair than none. I did not have any products in my hair other than shampoo and conditioner that day. I find what others don’t understand make them impulsive at times. It’s unfamiliar like some foreign object. See for us we don’t just go putting our hair into other people’s hair out of respect. I admire from afar. I know the person may not feel comfortable to just allow me to touch their hair. Likewise. It can be said for women of different races as well.

    1. I just overall have had a problem with people NOT ASKING. I am not a dog, so do NOT pet me! Friend or foe, that’s the bottom line. If you ask, I will most likely say yes, and if I’m just hanging out with my friends and I’m playing in my hair I might say, “OOOH, my hair feels like pillows, touch it!” Yes, I’ve totally said this, lol. But permission is key! Great comments (see I knew this article was thought provoking!).

      1. Likewise. I’ve never been asked either. It’s why I say people tend to feel impulsivity at this point to just do instead of ask without consideration of that person. I think if I was there and you said it felt like pillows. I would first stare and then wonder to touch. Of course I would ask instead of just diving into your hair. I think it is good to be curious and knowledgable about one another’s hair friend or foe, but respect is needed at all time. It is just like wearing your favorite pretty dress, people don’t walk up and start pulling on it because they like it. Same should be said for hair.

        I even remember growing up in elementary and watching another black girl play or braid a white or several white girls hair, the white girls loved it! They would just sit there patiently, talking with us, and admiring their braid afterwards. Most of time she was doing a french braid. I’ve never at that point touch another person of another race’s hair until then. I was curious to how it felt compared to mine. Some of them have thick hair but fine. Then I tried to do cornrows for a Hispanic female friend of mine, her hair would not fully hold the cornrows. Again it was interesting doing her hair. I think I also did my Albanian friend’s hair with doing hair cornrows in the front and the rest of her hair hang. She has naturally curly hair. So does my Hispanic friend. I felt my Albanian friend’s hair hold cornrows better. They asked for me to braid their hair. Otherwise I would never have touched their hair. It is just an example of how other races also admire styles traditionally worn.

      2. I mean, like I said, it’s different in elementary school. We were all dirty little girls playing in each others’ hair, lol! But for a grown stranger to do it? NOPE! Seriously, read some of the comments she has been getting, where people talk about being positive and friendly towards one another…well sorry, I guess I’m mean then.

        LOL @ the dress comment…same thing as my hair…touch it, you’d better duck!

  2. Walking up to any one of any race and just touching them is wrong. Its great that people are interested in your hair, but they step out of bounds when they just touch it without permission. I’m all about educating the uneducated when it comes to natural hair. As much as I wouldn’t like it if someone just came up and touched my hair, I would gladly educate them on my natural texture and make sure I let them know to ask first!. I don’t think a person is racist because they touch your natural hair. If someone didn’t like you because of your skin color/race, than the last thing they would want to do is touch your hair.

    1. Hey Chantel! Good points, however, something racist does not necessarily have to be negative, just has to be based on race. I wouldn’t take it as far as the author states, but touching ANYONE without asking them comes from a general lack of respect for that person, and it’s seen in many different ways. Men grabbing your arm at the club, rubbing pregnant women’s bellies, etc etc. If you read the comments section though, I feel as if people are taking it a bit far with her…while I think the action comes from disrespectful, ignorant people, okay fine, even clueless (seriously, lol, do NOT touch me without asking as I will FLIP!!), I can see how she’d interpret it in the way she did, depending on her own personal experience. Also, a lot of the commenters talk about children touching their hair. Children are COMPLETELY different than a GROWN person running up to you and clutching your hair. Just…no! Adults should know better!! Perhaps I would agree with her more if more Black women with straight hair also came across the same issue just as often (and no, I don’t mean touching weave…). Overall though, I do commend her for writing the piece because it is very thought provoking.

Comments are closed.