Often, naturals are met with stares and curiosity about their hair. For years, most black women were wearing their hair relaxed or pressed. The kinky, curly, coily and wavy phenomenon is still very new for the world. It only makes sense that you are asked questions about something that wasn’t very popular in the past. Some find your natural hair so interesting that they may even feel the need to, dare I say, touch it. This is where most naturals draw the line. Legitimate questions are welcomed, but your random hand in their hair is NOT.
I can’ tell you how many times people have rudely touched my hair. I say “rudely” because it’s extremely rude to touch a part of another person’s body without even thinking about asking. It’s very weird for me to see someone run their fingers through a strangers head. Why don’t you just slap them on the behind while you’re at it? You already invaded their personal space, what’s another offense?
People randomly touch a natural haired woman’s hair for different reasons. They want to see if it’s really all their hair, they want to feel the texture or perhaps they’re just inquisitive. Whatever their reasons, it’s not okay to put your hands in a strangers head. Do folks really expect you to sit there while they pet you and poke at your head?
Two years ago, I was at a meeting where I was sporting a half wig. I purchased the wig for those days when I just didn’t feel like doing my hair, but still wanted my hair to look cute. The whole time I was styling and blending the wig, I was thinking “I know how invasive people can be; I hope no one tries to touch my hair today.” This was my first time wearing a wig.
Sure enough, after the meeting was over, Jane, the organizer of the meeting, walked up to me and told me that she loved my hair. I smiled and said thank you. Next thing I knew, her frail manicured hand was headed for my head. I leaned my head away, she turned red and I walked away. I was irritated, but I can’t say that I was completely surprised. It wasn’t my first “strange hand in hair” experience and I knew it wouldn’t be the last.
On the other hand, a few weeks ago, I experienced something different. I was sitting at my desk at work when Nancy, an older Caucasian co-worker, walked up to me and started a conversation about my hair. It seems that in the office, I’m sort of the go to person when it comes to questions about natural hair. Nancy explained to me that she admires my natural hair and that she often hears me talking to others about how to care for their hair. We chit chatted for a bit and then she asked politely…”Can I touch your hair? Do you mind?” I smiled at her and gave her permission touch my afro. Afterwards, she stated that it was so beautiful and soft. She had never touched black hair before. She learned something that day.
Why was it okay for Nancy to touch my hair and not Jane? Nancy politely asked to touch my hair, but Jane didn’t. Jane got ahead of herself and decided to invade my personal space by putting her strange hands in my hair. She didn’t even know who I was and we had never even had a conversation with each other. Nancy was already having a conversation with me before she ASKED to touch my hair. I thanked Nancy for asking me because that’s the way it should be done. Give people the right to say “yes, you may or “no, you may not touch my hair.” Understand that like arms and legs, hair is an extension of the body and it should be respected.
Would you allow someone to touch your hair if they asked politely?