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Touching Natural Hair without Permission; A Race Thing?

Avatar • Jul 25, 2011


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CNN recently wrote an article tackling this topic. Check it out;

Tamara Winfrey Harris tells a story of being in a chain restaurant with her husband when their names were called for a table.

Just as the couple rose to go, a middle-aged white woman standing nearby reached out swiftly to touch Winfrey Harris’s hair which at the time was styled in natural twists.

She missed by mere seconds, she was actually going to grab my hair as I walked past her,” recalled Winfrey Harris who runs the blog What Tami Said. “I turned around and she said, ‘Oh, your hair is neat.’ It just floored me because who does that, just reaches out and touches strangers?”

It’s a common tale shared by women of color whose natural hair can attract stares, curiosity, comments and the occasional stranger who desires to reach out and touch.

The reaction to such fondling can range from amusement to outrage over the invasion of personal space.

Tamara Winfrey Harris says she had a total stranger reach for her hair in a restaurant.

The discussion surrounding it is often rooted in race relations.

Blogger Los Angelista explained her response to a woman’s incredulous “Are you serious, I can’t touch your hair?” by writing that no she couldn’t, “Because my black ancestors may have been your ancestors’ property, and had to smile while they got touched in ways they didn’t want to, but I am not YOUR property and never will be so you’d best move your hand away from me.”

Natural hair” for black women is, by definition, hair that is not processed and not chemically altered. Straightened hair is oftened viewed as easier to care for and more attractive.

Rather than use chemical straighteners known as relaxers (also sometimes called “creamy crack” for both the damage it can do to black hair as well as the inability of some women to live without it) some women wear their hair in its natural state.

Natural hair can be described as curly, kinky, wavy, or — the sometimes dreaded and considered by some to be an offensive word — nappy.

Black hair fuels a more than billion-dollar industry which includes products, weaves, and wigs that can enable African-American women to change up their styles at a whim. Tons of websites, blogs, books and videos about natural hair exist to educate those desiring to “go natural.”

The style has been embraced for reasons of fashion, politics and simply by those unwilling to spend the time and money to maintain their chemically processed hair.

So why the continuing fascination with natural hair, given that so many women of color are now rocking the style and have been for years?

Keneesha Hudson said that despite the growing number of women embracing their natural hair texture, it’s still considered unique.

Hudson is the owner/founder of Urbanbella, a company in Atlanta that specializes in helping women embrace their natural hair texture. She first went natural in 2002 when she did the “big chop” (cutting all of her processed hair off) so she could have the freedom to swim, she said, and today she sports a thick mane of natural curls.

For the longest time we black women have been wearing our hair chemically straightened to a point where most of us really don’t know what our natural hair looks like,” Hudson said. “There’s a generation of us who have never even seen our hair in any form but straight except for baby pictures.”

Visitors to her salon will sometimes ask to touch her hair to establish that it is actually all hers and not a wig or a weave, she said, while still others are strangers who “sneak and touch it.”

We love to go to the football games, and there’s a group of guys that sit behind us,” Hudson said. “One week, towards the end of the season, one of the guys in cheering just kind of laid his hands on my head like ‘Yeah!’ I said ‘That has nothing to do with cheering for the game,’ but I just find those little moments happen a lot.”

In 2008, Renee Martin wrote “Can I Touch Your Hair? Black Women and The Petting Zoo” for her blog Womanist Musings and said she continues to get e‑mails from women thanking her for her post and relaying their personal experiences about their hair being touched.

Some white women who responded, Martin said, shared their stories of their own hair being touched in countries populated by people of color. They chalked it up to natural curiosity and accused Martin of being too sensitive, she said.

But she says she doesn’t think the crux of the issue has to do with curiosity.

I think it’s the idea that they have the right to possess black women and they will take any excuse they can to jump over the border, whether it’s policing our behavior or policing our hair,” Martin said. “I think it’s about ownership of black bodies more than it has to actually do with hair.”

You can read the rest of the article here. So what are your thoughts ladies? Is the unprovoked touching of natural hair a race thing? Or is it just a matter of curiosity? And have you witnessed women of other ethnicities dealing with ‘unprovoked hair touching’ also?

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Jess
9 years ago

For me (and I can only speak for myself), it’s not so much of a race issue as it is a personal space issue. I am not a display or an exhibit, so do not treat me as such.

Monique
Monique
9 years ago
Reply to  Jess

I agree with Jess about it being a personal space issue. I disagree with Martin’s assessment that it is about ownership as I have had many different ethnicities lose their common sense and want to touch my hair before they even think about asking. It is like reaching out to touch the stomach of a pregnant woman…some people just don’t think about it. I am not condoning stealth hair touching but I also don’t think it should be automatically associated with racist undertones. I have travel quite a bit and our hair type and dark skin color are exotic to most… Read more »

kliyah
kliyah
9 years ago
Reply to  Monique

I agree with you about the whole ownership issue and i don’t think it has to do with race either. Any stranger in anyone’s personal space would make anyone creep out. I don’t know what it is about our hair in its natural state that makes people want to touch it.

Simone
Simone
9 years ago
Reply to  Jess

I agree. It’s rude and inappropriate but I don’t believe it’s a race thing. No one cries racist when the asshole in the club smacks you across the butt o_0 People act like they’ve never been curious about another person’s hair… the difference is some people have stricter boundaries and others simply never thought of it as something to be offended by. Like the article says, BLACK women have the billion-dollar hair industry, not Whites. We all know most White women don’t take as much time/pride/effort in their hair as Blacks so its probably not that serious to them! I’m pretty… Read more »

Mae
Mae
9 years ago
Reply to  Simone

White women have >$1 billion hair industry. In fact, most of the hair products are geared towards that demographic. They spend a lot of money on their hair, but it is viewed as less shameful because they are white/Asian and anything black women do is ripe for ridicule.

EG
EG
9 years ago
Reply to  Mae

You are correct in that non-black women do spend more. The first time I ever heard of a $100 for a conditioner was from a spanish classmate. Salon products geared towards non-black women start at $30 per product, and that is considered a bargain. The reason why I think we are ridiculed is because we tend to buy cheaper products, and because of the weaves/wigs. When you buy cheap products, people sometimes tend to view you as cheap. Add to that the fact that a lot of us wear wigs/weaves, and the translation unfortunately becomes that we are cheap and fake.

this_again_?
this_again_?
9 years ago

when is enough, enough? omg everytime i come here it’s always an artical about drak skin,light skin or this maddness written above. how are we to move forward if we’re sitting around waiting for the next worse thing to happen?

kliyah
kliyah
9 years ago
Reply to  this_again_?

i agree recently there haven a lot of theses anti black people posts sometimes i leave this website feeling worse about myself then better lol

laundrygirl
9 years ago
Reply to  kliyah

There’s an US versus THEM thing that keeps happening on this site and it gets tiring after a while. We are not aliens. We are people with kinky curly hair. Why must we muse over our differences so much yet at the same time talk about wanting acceptance. Why care so much what others think? DO YOU. Rock your hair however you want. Own your choices and stand by them.
If you are ok with someone touching your hair then good for you. If not, tell them to back up. It’s hair. It’s not that deep (unless you want it to be).

EG
EG
9 years ago
Reply to  this_again_?

To play devil’s advocate: 1. We are never going to move past colorism in our community if we don’t admit that it exists. Ask yourself this, how offended would you get if you tried to use a racist comment/deed to highlight the work that still needs to be done to rid our society of racism, and a white person went “ugh, the race card.….let it go already, we have a black president”. 2. The owner of the site seems to use questions submitted by visitors as topics of discussion, if you don’t see something that you like, then submit a… Read more »

luvs
luvs
9 years ago
Reply to  EG

Co-sign

Lissie
Lissie
9 years ago
Reply to  luvs

Co-sign too! Especially with #2

Neodaughter
9 years ago

I don’t think that it’s a race thing when it comes to hair. I’ve had people touch my hair, but it’s always been black people who have touched my hair and they’ve always asked first. I think a lot of black people walk around with the attitude that someone is going to do something or say something racist to them. And because they are in the mind set they are constantly attracting people to them that will do things to offend them. I don’t concern myself with other people thing or feel about me and I’ve never gotten into confrontations with… Read more »

Le Le
Le Le
9 years ago
Reply to  Neodaughter

I have had more black people pet my hair, too, but unlike in your case they don’t ever ask. Especially at church. Even when I wasn’t natural, and my mother braided/styled my hair until I was 19, other (Black) people always wanted to touch it, and by the end of the day, my hair was a fuzzy, fly-away mess. Do not pet me, no matter what color you are. I don’t know why people–white or black–think it is socially ok to touch anything connected to a stranger’s body. I don’t exactly love it when my husband fluffs my twist-outs (but… Read more »

W. Lotus
9 years ago

It’s a matter of rudeness, not race. These are probably the same people who would touch a pregnant woman’s belly unasked.

Simone
Simone
9 years ago
Reply to  W. Lotus

exactly!

nomad
nomad
9 years ago

yeah i’m kinda surprised at how .…angry… some of the people are. I’m not American so I don’t immediately equate someone touching my hair with racial/historical bias or white people owning black people etc etc. That said, I would think it a bit weird for a stranger to touch my hair without asking and that rarely happens to me. Some of my white friends (and tons of black people who never see natural hair too PLUS even my natural black friends (a fair amount here in Europe)) cannot resist surreptitiously touching my hair. I don’t think it weird, I also sometimes… Read more »

Erica
Erica
9 years ago

I blame curiousity. Yesterday at church somebody grabbed a fist full of my hair and yes she was black. I work at an all black elementary school and if I kneel down or am seated some child will be touching my hair. I have had my hair touched my random caucasian strangers but also random black strangers. have you ever let your curiousity get the best of you? I know I have so I don’t even totally blame rudeness.

Nappynfree
9 years ago
Reply to  Erica

I agree. People are just curious. I have had one white person ask if she could touch my hair…didn’t bother me in the least. I look at it as an opportunity to educate. I have also been asked by black people if they can touch my hair.

I, too, am guilty of wanting to touch other people’s natural hair!! There was this one girl I saw in my work building’s cafe and her hair was BEAUTIFUL and I HAD to touch it. So, I asked (I always ask!!!) and she said, “Sure.”

honeybrown1976
honeybrown1976
9 years ago

I counter with “Only if I can touch your breasts.”

They tend to walk around after that.

Laila
Laila
9 years ago
Reply to  honeybrown1976

Ha!

sosoulful0125
sosoulful0125
9 years ago

Come on we can not blame everything on race. It’s curiousity plain and simple, plus its rude.

Janay
Janay
9 years ago

I just think some folks are naturally curious. There’s a lot of misguidance and lack of information about our hair. Questions come from not only ignorance, but from many things that have been said in general (even by us) that lead to confusion. For example, a white woman once asked me if I had a “perm” since my hair was curly. Well, black women use perm and relaxer interchangeably, so I understood her confusion. Now, the straight up invasion of personal space will get you slapped, black or white, curious or otherwise. At the very least, ASK. The worst thing… Read more »

Ominy Karess
9 years ago

This was really good. Anytime I come to work with a twist/braid out or even a blow out, I can literally sense the excitement and curiosity of white & non-black coworkers as soon as I walk in. Whether its wanting to ask a million questions (which for the most part, I don’t mind answering since they aren’t the asinine “do you wash it?” type) or wanting to touch and feel. I remember one specific time where a coworker began walking over, smiling and saying “oOooOooOh! (clearly with the intent to touch). As SOON as she got in front of me,… Read more »

Andrea
Andrea
9 years ago

reaching out touching anyone without asking is just disrespectful and rude! just last week the VICE PRESIDENT (who is a YT male in his 50’s) of the company I work for walks into my cubicle touches my hair and says “wow its like soft astro turf) it literally took the hand of Jesus to keep me from slapping the ish out of him. I mean who does that? Plus he and another co-worker had the audacity to think it was funny until they saw the look on my face.

Angela
Angela
9 years ago
Reply to  Andrea

LOL to “it literally to the hand of Jesus”, his actions were outrageous. You should have told him to prepare for a ball cup. (Not that you would actually do that. Shudder)

Aivlys
Aivlys
9 years ago

I actually love when people touch my hair (always been this way since a child—it’s relaxing. I use to undo my ponytails right after my mom did them just so she can continue to touch my hair). I am only offended when the person is touching my hair AND making rude/slick comments.

Aivlys
Aivlys
9 years ago

I don’t see it as a race thing either

Michelle Hubbard
Michelle Hubbard
9 years ago

I think that some people are just rude..not naturally curious. I can understand a child touching your hair, but a fully grown adult simply knows or SHOULD know better.

Mai
Mai
9 years ago

This article coming from the same CNN that made Black in America (rolls eyes). I have never heard a black women having this kind of problem because of their hair touched. That is an extreme but that is all CNN understands about black people — extremes. Honestly though, if some random person just touched my hair without even asking me or even asking a general question about my hair, but just touched it like that, I would be mad too. That’s just plain rudeness. If some chick just grabbed my shirt and said this looks nice. I would be offended… Read more »

miranda
9 years ago
Reply to  Mai

Oh I totally agree about CNN and Black in America! Thanks for trying but no thanks, CNN. It just forges less understanding about us I think.

Personally, I don’t mind if it’s my friends. I think we’re a group on the touchy-feely side anyways so we like to hug and stroke each others’ hair. It’s comforting. Now coming from a complete stranger who doesn’t ask first, just wrong on so many levels. It’s a space thing, not a race thing.

brandi
brandi
9 years ago
Reply to  Mai

Well you know its that time of year when CNN rolls out the Black people series.

Angela
Angela
9 years ago

Not race, just curious, and rude.

Eboni
Eboni
9 years ago

I think it’s becoming more of a curiosity now that more and more women are going natural. But what she said here,

Because my black ancestors may have been your ancestors’ property, and had to smile while they got touched in ways they didn’t want to, but I am not YOUR property and never will be so you’d best move your hand away from me.” was pretty deep.

Afrinaturality
Afrinaturality
9 years ago

I really don’t see it as a race thing. I lived in Peru for six months and had my hair in braided extensions for the duration. Every five minutes someone was touching my hair — in a shared taxi, on the bus.…whether I knew them or not. I was called ‘rasta’ all the time even though I had braids and not locks. The people didn’t know any better. So yes, I find it a little irritating when people put their hands in my hair because they are invading my personal space, but my first thought is not that they are… Read more »

Nadine
Nadine
9 years ago
Reply to  Afrinaturality

I am in the same boat with you. I get call rasta all the times, so I just stopped explaining to people that it’s not locks but long twist brading. But I do think people are over reacting and some people are just curious. I had black men trying to touch my hair, and I just say no don’t touch. You can look, and compliment but you cannot touch. What I have a notice is that the word racism is very sensitive, even if something is not racist but you only need one person to say it’s racist and everyone… Read more »

binks
binks
9 years ago

I never really understood the touching thing from strangers. I know people are curious but hell I’ am curious about scars, tattoos, dimples and other features on other people but I don’t go up and touch it especially without permission or even ask if I don’t know the person like that. It is very rude and like mention invades personal space. But it has nothing to do with race that is a non-issue

ForcedSimile
ForcedSimile
9 years ago

I like my friends randomly touching my hair. I’m fine with that, I know them and personal space is different with people I know. But with strangers, it kind of irks me a little. I don’t know them and what they want so I get wary about people invading my bubble especially without asking.

Though I was told, since I plan on going to China/Taiwan that I should just be prepared for people to just touch without asking. The concept of personal space and strangers is a little different in China.

MzNappyTrini
9 years ago
Reply to  ForcedSimile

lol yeah in china get ready for ppl pulling ur hair and rubbing ur skin and carrying on rapid fire convos with each other trying to make sense of you while u stand there utterly dumbfounded by what is happening. lol. they also sneak up behind u to take pics with u while ur minding ur business like ur a statue or something lol. that aside, its a wonderful place. have fun!

Nedra
Nedra
9 years ago

This was a foolish article with an agenda… make us look crazy, as per usual. They go and look for the angriest and most ridiculous of black women to interview always. Slavery was years ago let it go! I wish they would’ve done some research or asked more natural women, not these three or four women CLEARLY stuck in the past.

ChicagoCutie
ChicagoCutie
9 years ago

I agree with others in that it’s more an issue of lack of boundaries rather than a racial matter. Personally, I have never liked people, other than my mother, randomly touching my hair (I don’t know where you hands have been and you don’t know me). Right after I big chopped in Jan ’11, there was one co-worker, a white female, who, because my hair was “So cute”, felt compelled to touch it. Because I typically sit with my back to my cubicle entrance and have headphones in, it would catch me by surprise when one minute I’m typing an… Read more »

Lteefaw
Lteefaw
9 years ago
Reply to  ChicagoCutie

OMG, my Granny use to say the same thing. And I’m also from the SS of Chicago.

Kayla
9 years ago

The whole race and ownership thing? *side eye* However, I do think the touching thing is just plain rude. I am transitioning and I swear people are confusing my going natural with opening a petting zoo. If I had a quarter for everytime someone pet me…

CandiceD
CandiceD
9 years ago

I have never had anyone ask to “touch my hair”, I really do not know what I would say if someone did, probably ‘no’ if a stranger, that’s just odd. I wouldn’t ask or just assume it was OK to touch anything on a person at all…who does that? Hair in general is very personal no matter what race, I really do not even touch my BFF’s hair, nor does she touch mine, it’s very intimate if you really think of it. I have had a few people touch my hair that was not family and yet I did not mind because… Read more »

MzNappyTrini
9 years ago

so the black folks straight DIGGING in my hair searching for tracks are tryna own me too?! lol i can’t with this article. to me it is rarely about race and more about curiosity and experiencing otherness, something that ALL humans do. the issue at hand is not slavery and its implications but personal space and rudeness. lol. as much as we like to think the world revolves around us, we aren’t the only folk ppl tryna touch and white folk aint the only ppl doing the touching. i have ppl trying to touch my hair all the time and… Read more »

Leo the Yardie Chick
Leo the Yardie Chick
9 years ago

As others have said, it’s more of a disrespecting of personal space issue. Unsolicited touching of anyone just to satisfy curiosity or fascination is just plain rude. Would people just walk up and grab other women’s breasts to see if they’re real or fake, and not expect an epic bytch slap? No. Same applies to a stranger’s hair.

Making it into a racial issue, though? Oh boy. It’s like folks linking planking to slavery — it was already a ‘wtF?!’ past-time without bringing slavery into the argument.

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[…] here, here and here to read other blogs that I love (read: stalk on a daily basis) take on the […]

Joanna
Joanna
9 years ago

I don’t think touching the hair is a race thing at all! Or, at least, it hasn’t been in my experience. Most of my friends, Black and White, were astonished at my BC and loved touching it because neither had ever seen hair like mine in person. I think it’s curiosity that draws them to touch it. Personally, I love when people touch my hair! I think it’s flattering and I enjoy the feeling of fingers in my hair (I admit to severe hand in hair syndrome :p).

Wilberthe
Wilberthe
9 years ago

I can’t stand that whenever a black person tries to think critically about how race may play a role in certain things (and race does play a role in A LOT of things), some people will immediately strike him/her down and tell them “slavery ended” or “you need to stop living in the past”. Way to stifle discussion.

Jade
9 years ago
Reply to  Wilberthe

Yeah, it is annoying. But I don’t waste my time talking to dimissive people. Most of the people who want to touch my hair are white men. I think they feel entitled to touch me because I am black and a woman. Some will argue with me about why they should be able to touch it. Most say “I’ve never felt it before.” You may have never felt snow, but I’ll tell you it’s wet and cold. These are the same people who say dumb stuff like “I’ve never slept with a Black/Asian/Hispanic woman before”. I’m not exotic, I’m not… Read more »

Deens
Deens
9 years ago

Maybe I’m just not that big on personal space as others (granted I lived overseas as a kid and personal space is a lot different there). Bottom line, I don’t really mind when people ask to touch my hair if they ask first(as long as they don’t look like Pig-Pen from Charlie Brown show lol). I take it as a compliment . Just a few weeks ago a stewardess on the plane asked if she could touch it because “it’s so pretty and different”. It’s all about respect for personal space. Now that whole slavery/ownership thing? GUURRRRLLL BYE! lol I… Read more »

lovelee
lovelee
9 years ago

Its not race it’s just curiosity that has turned rude. I have not personally had someone just reach out and touch my hair, if they did it would cause a problem. I can’t stand it when people stand to close to me in a line, as you can see i have personal space issues. I have had people ask first and I let them if I feel ok with it. many of the ladies made a good example if it was my shirt, pants, face,pregnant belly,or butt it’s mine, it’s on me so don’t touch.

Kitty
9 years ago

I have NEVER had my hair touched without permission. People have always asked or I’ve ask them to do so (depends on the situation). My friends don’t ask me to touch it, sometimes they apologize, but I don’t care. I like the feeling of having my hair touched. Its soothing when done with good intentions and its mutual. But I’ve never had a stranger come up and grab a loc or fluff my fro. I get compliments, questions, but not ruffled up. Is CT devoid of such things? Because I so don’t get any of that here. I only got people… Read more »

Kitty
9 years ago
Reply to  Kitty

*wouldn’t let it.

lol typo

Ghanabelle
Ghanabelle
9 years ago

I’m getting tired of people always linking something to race. I don’t care what color you are — I don’t want any random person’s bootydiggin fingers in my head.

People who ask to touch my hair are normally just curious as to how it feels and how I get it styled that way. If they ask first, I don’t really mind if they touch…not something I would ever do, though.

Michelle Hubbard
Michelle Hubbard
9 years ago
Reply to  Ghanabelle

Ewww..now that you put it that way..I definitely do not want a stranger touching my hair. lol

Nappii Gurl.
Nappii Gurl.
9 years ago

Normally when people ask to touch my hair I don’t mind. I have never thought of it as racist I just thought people were curious. Usually the people who ask to touch my hair are black. White people usually make a comment about how they love it, [a lady told me my twist out reminded her of corkscrews.] =D and move on. I like it, it makes me feel good that someone appreciates my hair. Especially when it comes from black women, usually I get a side eye, or a snicker, but I find it refreshing when they give me… Read more »

TheBeautifulOne
TheBeautifulOne
9 years ago

In some African tribes you’re only suppose to designate one special person, a relative or close friend to handle your hair.….and if you let anyone else touch your hair it can cause harm to you.

foxyr
foxyr
9 years ago

I think it is mostly natural curiosity, not racially motivated. Come on, now, not everything is racial. Some people need to get a grip! Although, I think it is impolite and very rude to put one’s hands into another person’s hair. I wouldn’t appreciate it in the least bit, if someone grabbed my hair, without my permission. I know a white lady with blonde hair. She told me that every time she visits Brazil, the locals would touch her hair because they find her blonde hair fascinating. She finds this behavior kind of creepy, but she realizes that they are… Read more »

Felicia
Felicia
9 years ago

I have black women who touches my hair so its definitely not a “race” thing. And I hate it when they touch my hair. It irks me so.

Keyanna
9 years ago

I’m young and reckless people have almost come back paw-less for touching my hair. I have noticed that white people are more curious with their personal space violations. All the minorities I know touch and make ignorant jokes to make themselves feel better. Whereas my melanin challenged friends have valid questions
White People :
” How do you comb.….?” “I don’t I prefer a paddle brush or a wide toothed comb IN THE SHOWER”.
Black/Latino People
” Why do you want to look like a slave ?” ” I don’t.. Why are you so f%#%ing ignorant”.
Just my experience

Ms. Pillowz
Ms. Pillowz
9 years ago

I don’t think of it as a race thing, but as an entitlement issue here in the US with black and white people. Like, you feel that you are entitled to just randomly touch people without asking permission first. And black people who do it think that black people can touch other black people’s hair without asking first. I can understand children. I can even understand the curiosity in other countries or the lack of personal space issues there, but here, YOU SHOULD KNOW BETTER! There are STILL race issues out here and that alone should make a white stranger… Read more »

Res
Res
9 years ago

Unprovoked touching of natural hair could be a race thing, but it depends on the aggressor (for lack of a better term). People ask to touch my hair all the time and they are not always someone of another race. I’ve been asked by Black men, Black women (both natural and relaxed), as well as White, Asian, and other folks. Although I’m big on personal space, I don’t really mind someone touching my hair as long as they ask first. It also depends on the spirit in which the request was made — sometimes it is a matter of curiosity, sometimes… Read more »

zyaran
zyaran
9 years ago

I dont like my hair to be touched because it’s to thick and coarse. I don’t mind being asked to touch my hair, since I will say no thank you as a response anyway lol.… But I have often at times found myself wanting to touch another persons hair, but won’t do it because you never know what type of mood that person is in that day.

Also check these cute little girls rocking their natural hair and posing to cute.. Found this at blkgirlsrock
[img]http://bglhonline.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/07/tumblr_loukky4RLk1qed1eao1_500[1].jpg[/img]

thelady
thelady
9 years ago

LMAO @ all the people in here who think the fact that random strangers think they are entitled to touch you has nothing to do with racism/colorism/misogyny. It is just a coincidence that these things are more likely to happen to black women. RIGHT

OhnoYo
OhnoYo
9 years ago
Reply to  thelady

I don’t think it is at all more likely to happen to black women. I do believe that people want to touch a black natural woman’s hair more than a black woman with a relaxer. THAT i do believe.

But I grew up with white people and white girls play in each other’s hair all of the time. I work with white women and WE (all of us) are in each other’s hair a lot.

MEN love a woman’s hair as well. So that’s not exactly misogyny, a hatred or dislike for women.

brandi
brandi
9 years ago
Reply to  thelady

You know how that is. Any discussion of race and people chime in with “it happened to me so it can’t be racist!!!!”

Anon
Anon
9 years ago

Misogyny? Please explain. Everyone has different experiences. That’s what makes us individual. All this scoffing, scolding and sniffing is a real poor show.

Angie
Angie
9 years ago

I’ve never had anyone walk up and ask to touch my hair. They ask how I got it this way or how long it took, etc, etc but never touch. I guess it could be viewed as racist by some. To me, I would view it as ignorant curiousity on behalf of the (white) person requesting to touch the hair. However, we (Black women) must admit, we have been forced to hide our very unique beauty from the world. Excluding the 70’s when the fro and cornrolls was a fleeting trend, this, I believe, is the first time in American… Read more »

Nadine
Nadine
9 years ago

some black women don’t like her weave being touch.. so I don’t relly understand the difference between a natural hair. Let’s not make into a racist thing because it’s really not.

AishaSaidIt
9 years ago

I hate to talk about it because it makes me upset. But I had to physically removed some elderly white woman’s hand from my child’s hair in the Chicago airport one time. I was so appalled and I all I could think of was how am I going to relay the message to her quickly without being hauled off to jail. I get a lot of curiosity living in Arizona and I had a boss ask me more than once if he could touch my hair. I politely continued to tell him no. The only upsetting part is my six… Read more »

AishaSaidIt
9 years ago
Reply to  AishaSaidIt

In my personal life it’s a race/curiosity/cultural thing because all my “hair boundary” issues that actually happened are from non-Black people. I’m not at all touchy feely with non-family members so I may also be extra sensitive.

copelli
copelli
9 years ago

The problem is that white women and black women come from opposite ends of the spectrum on this, so they don’t quite get why we get upset over this issue. Their intent may be innocent with no racial overtones or not, but regardless, what they need to respect and understand is OUR history and the repercussions that color our present reality.…and yes, our hair issues are THAT complex. I did my share of educating people on black hair. In college, I lived on an international floor with people from all over the world and every time I washed my hair it… Read more »

Hyspin
Hyspin
9 years ago

I think it is sometimes a race/culture thing I say 10% and a lot times it has to do with curiosty. I have had yellow, black, and white individuals ask about my hair and touch it but luckily all have ask. I take it for no more than that. Plus, I someone did touch my hair without asking I wouldn’t be able to keep my cool, I am serious about my personal space.

naomi
naomi
9 years ago

smh, always a race thing.….so what’s it called when another black woman(or man) touch my hair without permission? seriously.….

Naantastic
9 years ago

It IS a race issue, but not necessarily always in a negative way. Think about it.… I mean REALLY think about it. We are the only ones on the planet with our hair type. There are people with dark skin (East Indians, aboriginal Australians) and some Arabs that are darker than than even some of African origin. Round behinds? they have them in Latin America, full bodied, you’d find them even among the Arabs, Latin American and yes, even Polynesians. Facial features? Well.…the lsit goes on but hair. HAIR. HAIR.….no one, I repeat NO ONE with hair like ours. Heck,… Read more »

LaToya H.
LaToya H.
9 years ago

I’ve been doing research on historic and contemporary representations the black female body, beauty, and identity for my thesis, and I can definately see how this can be seen as a racial and gender issue. In the past there has been this attitude of ownership about the black female body as a whole ( and yes this includes our hair), from both sides of the fense, black and white. The fact poeple think they have to right to touch any part of our person is a testiment to that attitude, weather it be conscious or subconscious. I mean just look… Read more »

Kathy
Kathy
9 years ago

I couldn’t read all through these comments…but I read through most. I am not sure If I am the only one that feels this way. BUT I don’t mind people touching my hair Black, White, Asian, Indian, female, male etc. I have been natural for 7 years now and my hair is gorgeous. I would want to touch my hair if I saw it! I take it as a compliment it has nothing to do with racism and I feel sorry for the people who believe it does.

AusetAbena
9 years ago
Reply to  Kathy

yes, but most people have an issue with touching without asking, like I do. Whether people mean well or not, whether from admiration or not, your hair is still a part of your body and people are at different levels with strangers, complete strangers, touching their personal body without permission. Even if they ask permission, I still have a problem if I dont know the person. I have no ideas where your hands have been. Furthermore, one time when I granted a complete stranger permission to touch my hair, he roughed it up so badly I was quite upset. So,… Read more »

Katrice
Katrice
8 years ago
Reply to  AusetAbena

I’m just now viewing this post, but AusetAbena you are certainly right. What you said explains it best for me.

anita.d
anita.d
8 years ago
Reply to  Kathy

I agree with kathy. I don’t think it has anything to do with race I think it should be a compliment that people find your hair that pretty enough to want to reach out and touch it. of course I don’t agree with someone not minding personal space (yes, I’m the type that likes my little bubble and don’t like people popping it uninvited lol) however, i don’t feel that someone’s lapse in personal space judgement means they are violating your personal space because of a racial issue. it’s like a child seeing something shiney…they automatically reach out to touch… Read more »

Jenn
Jenn
8 years ago
Reply to  anita.d

I am caucasian, and I have relatively long, wavy hair. It is not processed with dyes or other chemicals, and I also have had people touch in the past without asking (weird! creepy!) as well as strangers ask if they could touch (slightly more considerate, but still odd). I don’t really think the look or texture of my hair is that fascinating…it is pretty average. I can relate to the shock of having this happen; it DOES feel like being violated. It is never acceptable to invade someone’s personal space! When I got to the end of the post I… Read more »

InquisitiveFairy
8 years ago
Reply to  Jenn

I agree with Jenn. I came across this post while searching on ways to style and care for natural hair. I am floored that people still think that everything is about race. It never occurred to me that someone reaching out to touch my hair meant that they secretly wanted to own me. Really??? Idle curiosity is the only thing that comes to my mind when someone reaches for my hair. I don’t mind too much. It’s surprising to see full grown adults so mesmerized by hair but it’s not a huge deal. It is a compliment. Just as long… Read more »

shadiboo
shadiboo
8 years ago

lol, i love this

exotikink
exotikink
8 years ago

Agreed!

Caroline
Caroline
8 years ago

Ahh, I totally love what you wrote! I’ve got to say, I was somewhat offended that this article made touching people’s hair out to be a race thing. I’m white, and natural African American hair is so beautiful to me partly because no matter what I do, I could never get mine to look like that. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I love my hair!! Smooth and straight and shiny and wonderful! But thick, curly, dark hair is amazingly beautiful too, and can anyone blame me for being fascinated by it? Now, as for reaching out and touching someone’s hair.. even… Read more »

Mina
Mina
9 years ago

I’ve never had a problem with it. I did atleast know the names of the people (of other races) that touched my hair without asking. I’ve never had a complete stranger just swipe for my hair like that. I could imagine that it would be kind of creepy if some random person just reached out at you as if you were Jesus or something. I think any race would dislike that, not just black women. With that said, some of the girls that I was friends with would duck when I would say ” oh your hair look so pretty… Read more »

nani
nani
9 years ago

I think they feel its offensive as well or they would openly ask you. whem someone comes up and asks me to touch my hair out of curiosity its not a big deal to me i like to teach people. it when you try to sneak that i find it insulting. Its just rude to go up to someone you dont know and enter there pesonal space.

yanoui
yanoui
9 years ago

I dont like people, and especially strangers, touching me for no reason and out of the blue.(What the hell??) My mum raised me with lots of superstition and one of the things is the “evil eye” . You can’t tell if someone is jealous of you or not so (preferrably) no touching whatsoever. Not my hair, my skin or anything. Besides im no monkey.

Giovanna
Giovanna
9 years ago

Yep, I am one of those who has never seen my naturally textured hair. I itch to do the BC every single day and I’ve been transitioning for almost 8 months. Seeing the texture of my new growth and how thick and voluminous it is compared to my limp relaxed ends makes me wanna just get it over with already.

Princesssookeh
Princesssookeh
8 years ago
Reply to  Giovanna

Same here with the wanting to chop the limp ugly ends. the thing is that I got used to having long hair. Though it was MUCH longer before I got relaxers(I should never have listened to those ignorant bitches in my class)>_>. The thing is that I don’t want to have short hair for any length of time, so I just hide the ugly by twisting my hair up.

Renee
Renee
9 years ago

It is not an ownership or possessing problem, although it is very rude. I am a white female with very long, semithick and blond hair. Most women ask if it’s ‘all my own’. But I have had a white woman, who was with her teen daughter, compliment my hair then quickly grab my hair from in front of me (in other words, my hair was laying on my chest!) and lightly pulled on it and say “it almost looks fake”! So, I can completely understand the shock. I actually felt violated. I kept thinking about how embarrassing it would have… Read more »

Tati
Tati
9 years ago

I’ve had strangers ask to touch my hair, and it doesn’t offend me if they are polite or curious about it. On the other hand, I’ve had people (always White) grab or touch my hair without permission. It infuriates me. A few years back when I worked in retail, I finished ringing up a customer and reached under the table to grab a bag, and this old white woman just *grabbed* a chunk of my hair and said “Oh, I thought something would happen when I touched it!”. I didn’t say anything because I was so upset. Where did her… Read more »

Bernie
Bernie
9 years ago

Hmm…this is really interesting. Although I think the question of “owning” and race are valid, I do think the author is being hypersensitive for 3 reasons: 1. As a natural, black people including black women ask to touch my hair! 2. I do think it’s partly just curiosity. Non-white people (Asian, Latino etc.) regularly express interest in my afro-textured hair. 3. As I was reading this article, I realized that I do this too! To other black women and non-black women. And it’s not like “oh your white hair is so straight and silky, lemme touch it”. It’s always something unique… Read more »

Dave
Dave
8 years ago
Reply to  Bernie

That’s a very good point, I completely agree with that.

Camille
Camille
8 years ago
Reply to  Dave

I agree with you also. I have never taken it as a racial or ownership thing. The fact is that Caucasians are much more receiving of my hair than my own kind. Sorry, but it’s a fact in my world. I have all races wanting to touch my hair. The only thing I find RUDE is when you are 1) touching without asking, and 2) digging in my roots or pulling my hair looking for tracks. I think it’s just plain RUDE. Also, being of a West Indian persuasion, I am not comfortable with anyone and everyone in my hair, especially… Read more »

Freckelz
9 years ago

I dont care what race you are, i dont like strangers touching me, and i especially HATE people touching my hair without my say so. i dont trust people’s cleaniness and i dont need somebody’s grubby little fingers in my hair just because they think they are at a petting zoo and should be allowed to touch the black girl in front of them. simply put you touch me or my hair and im swinging…why?? because it is my hair, my property not yours.

Ebncurly
Ebncurly
9 years ago
Reply to  Freckelz

This is my number two reason — I dont know where your hands have been!

Avanti
Avanti
9 years ago

I’ve never had a problem with other people touching my hair, I actually tend to welcome it since most people think it’s fake when it’s in an afro and I want them to see that natural hair can be soft and fluffy and move without needing a pick. At times I’ve found myself hoping someone would ask to touch it when I think it’s super cute. Hahaha! The only time a stranger reached out and touched it before I realized what was happening was when I visited a Claire’s and a young black girl working there who didn’t know what… Read more »

Ebncurly
Ebncurly
9 years ago

I take high offense when its done without asking and rarely allow friends to touch it.

Why is this even a debate.….…. Its MY hair — you can’t touch it, period. Its my body — no explanation will be given.

tye
tye
8 years ago

people touch my hair with out permission but it makes me mad when people touch my fro and it gets miss shapen lol TWA

Juliette
Juliette
8 years ago

Sometimes I mind and sometimes I don’t mind. But I think it depends on the person. I don’t like men that I am not familiar with or who give off a creepy vibe touching me and it doesn’t matter whether it be my hair or my hands or something like that. It just creeps me out and I quickly duck out of their way.

joia
joia
8 years ago

I think Renee Martin exagerated a little bit come on “I think it’s the idea that they have the right to possess black women and they will take any excuse they can to jump over the border, whether it’s policing our behavior or policing our hair,” Martin said. “I think it’s about ownership of black bodies more than it has to actually do with hair.” we’re still so angry with white people for slavery that we live our lives according to what white people think. It’s not about black or white it’s about hair. They are so used to seeing us… Read more »

Kimi
8 years ago

To be honest, I don’t mind people touching my hair. In younger generations of white people it’s not that they’re trying to possess you, it’s that they are genuinely intrigued by your hair and how different it is. I’m from Austin, TX, and I’m surrounded by young white yuppies, who are the coolest of the cool cats and the hippest of the hip. 99.9% of my fellow Austinites don’t have a racist bone in their body when it comes to black people and yet I have my hair touched all the time. In all honesty, the reason behind someone touching your… Read more »

Peyton
Peyton
8 years ago

I am so happy to see a discussion about this topic. I am someone who changes my hair often. I personally CAN’T stand my hair being touched and it’s primarily by white people. Now let me clarify it’s primarily the ones that I work with because they make such a big deal about it. When I was little I vividly remember white people touching my hair and then rudely wiping their hands off. And now the dumbfounded stares and attempts to touch my hair, really bother me. I actually have explained to many of them that I don’t like it… Read more »

Jani
Jani
8 years ago

While I consider it rude to touch someone’s hair without asking, especially if you are a stranger, I think it a bit of a stretch to go as far as saying “I think it’s about ownership of black bodies”. I find it ludicrous actually. I am just now growing out my hair (did the BC 2 months ago, yay :)) and I’m thinking: woe be unto the person, especially a stranger that touches it. This has nothing to do with me thinking it’s racially inclined of course, but just that I hate when people touch my hair period! unless it’s… Read more »

Meeks
Meeks
8 years ago

This can be compared to people wanting to touch the belly of a pregnant woman. Some women mind, some don’t. I only mind when someone doesn’t ask first or if they linger in a strange way. Many older people think nothing of it and reach out to touch the belly while being moved to share some random story of motherhood of their own. White people, black people, anyone. I am moved by the humanity in it and the positive emotions that it usually provokes. Everyone’s hair is different. I look at other people’s natural hair and am envious of the… Read more »

Ivy
Ivy
8 years ago

I absolutely hate people touching my whether it’s family, friends and even worse strangers. I’ve had migraine s my entire life so am not about to let that happen.
It’s not a race issue but you don’t have to justify yourself if you don’t like it. It’s a free country and people should learn to control themselves.

I have friends that smack people hands so hard that you will hear it 10miles away. Everyone’s hair is different and we all know this so why not just ask or better her admire from afar.

Nikki
Nikki
8 years ago

Yes “they” tend to become fascinated when we as Natural sisters embrace who we are with boldness and think “the audacity of her!” so “they” want to take one last right of passage away from us by touching our grace and beauty. Next time one of “them” touches your hair, especially without your permission, you have the right to respond however you see fit. You don’t have to be violent but one should understand that “they” don’t have the right to invade your personal space, and then leave you feeling violated because “they” were “curious”.

Likewaterforchocolate
Likewaterforchocolate
8 years ago

I don’t think that it’s an issue of racism, but more or less race and the differences in cultural mores. Black girls are taught their mothers at an early age not to let people “play in their hair” and a concept of personal space.Part of the reason was that mothers usually styled your hair in structured styles on a weekly basis and in order for said style to last a week it needn’t be disturbed with unnecessary handling. White children considered a single french braid a cause to visit the salon and have their hair “styled.” I think that white… Read more »

Dave
Dave
8 years ago

I agree it can definitely be an annoyance and it is just plain rude to touch anyone’s anything without first asking permission. But I don’t think it is an issue about racism. Honestly, I believe it’s just pure curiosity. I’ve personally touched my friends’ hair whether they were black, white, Asian, whatever (with some kind of permission of course) but solely to satisfy my curiosity. I’m used to my kinky hair so when I touch long straight here, the sensation is just interesting because it’s different. Even touching another black person’s hair, it might feel interesting as well. Plus I’ve… Read more »

Lex
Lex
8 years ago

I think it’s a matter of personal space. Some people see some thing that interests them and they incorrectly feel they have the right to touch it with out permission. Like when people walk up to a pregnant woman and touch their stomach without asking.

Jess
Jess
8 years ago

I am white and the only strangers I can ever remember touching my hair uninvited were older black women, so go figure. My husband (who has very beautiful curly hair, lol) says that black ladies are always complimenting him on his hair- don’t know if touching is involved though. I think you should always ask, no matter who you are.

Candace
Candace
8 years ago

I am a creamy crack addict myself. I do however love natural hair and wish I was able to go natural myself( Just can do it). My girls are all natural and I hope they choose to stay that way. But when I see a beautiful hairstyle I love to look and yes touch (after asking). Try to understand that some people are very hands on, try not to be offended, differences make us all curious. But if you act like a child and touch me with out asking I will pop your hand and say “NO,NO.”

Shanese
Shanese
8 years ago

Hair touching doesn’t always have race related origins. I have had my hair touched, grabbed, and felt up by mainly African American people and it bugs me till no end! lol I understand that some of them have never seen natural hair or are shocked that I am able to wear it in various styles, but what annoys me is that they feel that they can just come up to me and invade my personal space. My hair isn’t a piece of clay that one can touch and mold. It is a masterpiece in display in a museum; do not… Read more »

Brittany D.
8 years ago

NO I’d say it’s definitely not a race thing! I’ve had countless people of different ethnicities and genders touch my hair whether wanted or not. I must say it is annoying for those who don’t ask, in which I definitely snap back with a mean look or take it upon myself to run my hair all up and down their hair in return so they can see what it’s like to have a stranger up in their roots. I also tend to get a lot of black strangers touch my hair, so it’s not fully racial but I can understand… Read more »

Phoenix
8 years ago

Eish!! When did personal space become such a HUGE issue? I’ve read a couple of posts on various blogs and I notice how women who go natural also start to publicly “embrace” their “African”, but yet still, there are such a great number of these women with high walls and issues with personal space. In my mind, and I’m not saying this to anyone in particular, maybe people need to hug more, touch more, hold hands more, kiss more, love more. When I visited the States, American girls, regardless of race, found it strange that I hugged and kissed my… Read more »

CozyVon
CozyVon
4 years ago
Reply to  Phoenix

Hmm, okay. So when some total stranger grabs your breasts or behind on the street because they find them attractive & “fascinating,” then you can “graciously allow” THAT. More power to you. In the meantime, who TF are you to ridicule another’s request for respecting their personal space??? “Eish” is right!

arielifeoma
arielifeoma
8 years ago

“Some white women who responded, Martin said, shared their stories of their own hair being touched in countries populated by people of color. They chalked it up to natural curiosity and accused Martin of being too sensitive, she said.” That right there…killed me. I’ve heard people say stuff like that too. Like, seriously, we are not in a foreign country! Black people have been here for centuries or did somebody forget about that peculiar American institution!?! So, now, I can’t be at home in my own country? The country I served in our military for? In any case, I’ve asked other… Read more »

shadiboo
shadiboo
8 years ago

i am Jamaican and i have had natural hair all my life. i do think the writer of the article is too sensitive. i have experienced black women asking caucasian and asian women to allow them to touch their hair and vice versa. the only problem i see here is someone touching our hair without permission. people are just curious about what they dont know. plain and simple

Illiarria
Illiarria
8 years ago

Did you REALLY try to turn that into a slavery issue? That’s retarded. No, that lady didn’t think you were her slave.…she thought your hair looked interesting and wanted to touch it. Should she have violated your personal space without asking? No. But trying to make yourself a victim to that level is one of the stupidest things I’ve ever heard in my life. Can we all just agree that until someone tells you to get your ass back to the fields that it’s PROBABLY not a slavery reference?

katrina samuels
8 years ago
Reply to  Illiarria

I agree with Illiarria. Turning this issue into something about slavery is stupid. Black women are not the only ones that are getting their hair touched. Any time your around people that are unfamiliar with you their is a natural curiosity. I wouldn’t mind people touching my hair just so it can dispel any myths of natural hair being untouchable. As a matter of fact, most black women don’t even want their boyfriends or husbands touching their hair. How do you explain that?! You sure can’t claim anything about slavery.

Deirdre
Deirdre
8 years ago

I’m a white woman and the social norm among my friends growing up was that if you touched someone’s hair it was a compliment- it was sort of the idea that your hair is so pretty that it makes me want to touch it. I would never touch a strangers hair- but often find myself touching a friend’s hair as a part of a compliment-“your hair is so pretty”…or…“I love your color”…or…“this is a great cut”. A white friend adopted daughters from Africa and I research hair care strategies for her and was surprised to learn that it was considered… Read more »

Tamara
Tamara
8 years ago

It is not a racial thing. I am Caucasian with long, straight, blondish brown hair. I had my hair touched several times while traveling in Asia. They were so amazed with the texture of my hair (which is very soft). I am a teacher with the majority of my students being Hispanic. My jr. high students touch my hair all the time, just to feel it. It is in stark difference to their own hair. I don’t mind at all. In either case, they are just curious. Sometimes it is easier to ask for forgiveness then for permission. Most cases… Read more »

Annette
Annette
8 years ago

I am Black, of African descent, having returned home 2.5 years ago after living in the US for almost 17 years. I have natural hair now, and I am tempted to touch the hairs of other naturalistas, out of curiosity, particularly regarding texture and softness. It is also out of admiration. I now understand that everything is not so black and white. People marvel at my hair too, unfortunately due most in part to their love of fake hair and lack of understanding the love–and care–of their own hair, which has resulted in an over-abundance of (often poorly-cared for) weave-wearing… Read more »

Stacy
Stacy
8 years ago

I’m saddened that the author feels people touching her hair is racial and based on possession. I happen to be caucasian, and have seen this curiosity outside the U.S. I studied abroad in China, and my friend and great hair. We went to a blind massage parlor, and the Chinese person giving him his massage couldn’t stop touching his hair because she had never seen or felt anything like it. As much as I was curious about how his hair felt, he expressed how tiring it was to have people constantly taking pictures and touching his hair. I grew up… Read more »

Alexis
Alexis
8 years ago

I don’t think there is anything racial, at least in most cases, when someone of a different race touches my hair. I go to a school in a 60 percent white and 30 percent hispanic area and people are ALWAYS fascinated with my hair. I’ve had classmates who walked across the class room or scoot their chair over and touch my hair (without asking of course) and I used to get really offended but after talking to them it’s really just curiosity. They haven’t been exposed to many black people in their are and the few that do live there… Read more »

Tiye
Tiye
8 years ago

So after reading most of these comments, I’ve come to a conclusion.… EVERYONE IS DIFFERENT. No one can tell someone else to not feel offended and no one should tell anyone that they should feel some type of disrespect. It’s your hair, do what YOU want with it and let whatever YOU want happen to it (or stop what you don’t).

ThatGirl
ThatGirl
8 years ago

I could not ever picture myself just going up to someone and playing in their hair! That is just plain rude. I’m white and my family has a lot of different races and cultural backgrounds. Most of the African-American women in my family keep their hair natural so I have always loved natural styles . I have really fine and soft hair and my little cousin who is African-American loves to play with my hair but I don’t see it as racist; it’s just different to her and it’s fun for both of us. I have Mexican and Brazilian family… Read more »

BnW
BnW
7 years ago

Wow. This article was so offensive. I’m black and white and used to wear my hair up in this big afro ponytail. (Think the girl from the boondocks). I had more black people just touching my hair without permission than white so to say it’s because somebody wants to own you and remind you that you are a slave is nonsense and completely offensive. This writer is crap and needs to reevaluate her life of that’s all she perceives. And quite frankly the fact that this Site is so obviously divided racially is sad and I find it uncomfortable to… Read more »

Sarah
Sarah
7 years ago

I think it’s EXTREMELY rude to touch a stranger’s hair without permission; the least the person would get is a hand swat and a dirty look.

However, a familiar person touching my hair would get different responses. A classmate: not favorable. A friend: doesn’t bother me.

l. redmond
7 years ago

I understand where it would seem an incredible trespass of personal space to have a stranger touch one’s hair but I’d like to open another view point. I’m an American of European descent and I have spent a lot of time in Salvador, Brazil where I have had many Afro-Brazilian children and a few men touch my hair — it is blondish red and curls loosely. I have never minded because they just want to see how it feels and the children want to comb and make hairstyles out of it. My hair is different and they want to experience… Read more »

Owen Hansen
Owen Hansen
7 years ago

Growing up in Washington,D.C. in the 1970s and 80s a white male going to predominantly black schools, I remember several occasions where black girls would reach out and touch my hair–almost as if I wasn’t there–and comment on it. This was more in the elementary years. Anyway, as much as it surprised me, I got that it was an expression of interest in something, and someone, different and not, at least in our context, a power-based act of any kind. It was just people wondering about each other.

Chachamusicgirl
7 years ago

I like when people (attractive people only) touch my hair. I especially love it when guys do it. I have always liked the feeling of someone playing or petting my hair. To me it’s an affectionate thing. If I ask to touch someone’s hair it’s because I think it looks soft, shiny, silky and healthy or smells good. Believe me, I don’t think myself or anyone else would touch your hair if they thought it looked disgusting or dry or crusty or stanky. I feel like some black people forget that not all others in other races and ethnicities are… Read more »

Paul Lessard
7 years ago

Seriously, get over yourself. It has nothing to do with race and the fact that you have to jump to that conclusion offends me. I’m as white as they come and for about half my life (I’m 31 years old) I’ve had a mohawk. In my older age it doesn’t get too long and I don’t really style it but when I was 16 I grew it out and spiked it up… ALL THE TIME I had people, total strangers, reach out and either attempt to or actually touch it, without asking. It’s about the hair, not the race. Get… Read more »

FromTokyo
FromTokyo
4 years ago
Reply to  Paul Lessard

If you’re white, your opinion had no bearing on the discussion. For you, someone wanting to touch your hair must be a good thing, thus, the “get over it” mentality. But physical contact by a stranger is very rude in many cultures. Get over that.

MJ
MJ
4 years ago
Reply to  Paul Lessard

A mohawk is a deliberate hairstyle that is a deliberate choice to alter the way your hair grows on your scalp. You shave the sides and spike it out on purpose so garnered attention is kind of the goal.

The curls I have are natural. Not a deliberate choice. I don’t wear it this way to garner attention. It’s just how it grows.

You have no basis for comparison to tell me to get over it. Your experience is not the same.

April D.
April D.
5 years ago

I cannot speak for everyone, but for me personally I prefer that if someone wants to touch my hair that they ask me first and wait for my response. Just like I am not comfortable with random people touching any other part of my body, my hair is no exception to that. I think that it is rude to assume that because my hair may be unique or unusual to someone that they are entitled to touch it. I think that if people are comfortable with that then it is fine. I just know that I am not. In my… Read more »

maddie
maddie
5 years ago

Growing up (and sometimes still today) people would touch my hair without permission. picture the most gruesome frown on a five year old’s face- and then direct it at some old lady. I’m a white australian with curly ginger hair so its not really the same but I’ve felt the RAGE and I believe a person has every right to call out space invaders and patronizing fools. I’m looking at you old ladies!

But seriously, this is a great site. I didn’t realize how ignorant i was with regard to both hair and culture. Thank you!

khiugi
khiugi
5 years ago

I wouldn’t be offended if people wanted to touch my hair as long as they asked first, cause touching it without permission would be an invasion of personal space. But I’d understand why they’d want too, our hair is different and they are just curious. Doesn’t mean when people ask to touch our hair they see us as property.

Jennifer Kerkow
Jennifer Kerkow
5 years ago

Because my black ancestors may have been your ancestors’ property, and had to smile while they got touched in ways they didn’t want to, but I am not YOUR property and never will be so you’d best move your hand away from me.” Im sorry but what? Shes generalizing and being down right prejudice. How can people scream that they are for equality and against hate if they do it themselves? If you go to east asia you will get the same thing because they have never seen something like that before. You shouldnt lash out in hypocritical anger.

FromTokyo
FromTokyo
4 years ago

>_> Mmm, okay, girl.

Steve Biko
Steve Biko
5 years ago

I don’t really like anybody touching my hair for no reason. I’ll let the occasional brother/sister touch it, if it’s related to how they style their own natural hair etc, but touching just for touching’s sake? Heck no! Hehehe.

Biss
Biss
5 years ago

The hair touching thing happened to me all-throughout high school usually when I wore my hair tied on top of my head making it look like a bunny tail. The odd part is that most of the time the people who touched it were very tall (usually grade 12) males circulating in the hallway (I knew because I could tell the direction the hand would come from). I wouldn’t attribute a particular race to the offenders but I think it was the shape and texture that sparked some sort of curiosity. The other black and mixed girls who had their… Read more »

eljjai
eljjai
5 years ago

Actually the first time some stranger touched my hair it was a black american woman and I had a TWA. It was my first time in the states and I didn’t know if that was just how people rolled over there.

Jennifer
Jennifer
4 years ago

I am a human being. As a human being, I believe that people should just ask permission before touching anyone’s hair because not everyone wants their hair to be touched. I am also black. As a black girl, I also believe that the issue of hair being touched without permission is not a racial thing. People just want to touch hair textures that they have not previously experienced. I just believe that they should ask first. I might let someone touch my waist-length Type 4 hair if they asked, but just touching my hair without permission is absolutely unacceptable.

A K
A K
4 years ago

I think the hair-touching is a race thing in my experience for 2 reasons. One is I’m a white woman with long, curly, huge, hard-to-ignore but European-textured hair and even when I wear it loose, nobody tries to touch it unless they’re family/friends/my husband. The other is I’m a teacher, and I notice that black pupils are subject to unexpected hair-touching from other kids (despite them knowing that nobody touches anybody else in my classroom without their permission). I absolutely get that human beings are interested in texture, but it seems obvious to me that assuming it’s ok to touch… Read more »

A K
A K
4 years ago
Reply to  A K

Also, I think unexpected touching is different if you’re a long way from home (a few people have mentioned it being a response that comes from curiosity about difference, rather than an assumption that people from a particular race have less right to personal space). I’ve experienced people wanting to touch my hair and skin when I’ve been travelling, especially in more remote bits of Asia and South America where I was very definitely a pretty tiny ethnic minority, and I never felt threatened or degraded by it because it did feel like a genuinely inquisitive, desire-to-understand-another-sort-of-body thing. BUT if… Read more »

SamC
SamC
4 years ago

The issue with inappropriate hair touch is definitely unique to the black community, but I’ve noticed that women in general are subject to unwanted touching all the time. I’ve been grabbed by strange men before wanting to “talk to me” and friends have had their headphones pulled out of their ears because someone “needed” to ask tell them something. pregnant women get their stomachs touched by strangers all the time. Women’s bodies in general are considered public property and what a woman does with her body is subject to public scrutiny. The hair definitely has a particular racial element to… Read more »

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