Thursday, May 24, 2012

How I Feel About You Touching My Natural Hair

There's no definitive answer as to whether or not hair touching is okay. It really matters to the individual; some naturals are all for it, others are against it. I will say I'm not a fan of strangers touching my hair and I don't care what your race is. I've had instances when both white and black men and women have decided it was okay to reach out and touch my strands without asking first. The first time it happened must've been when the concept of "going natural" was still really new; I was a junior in high school rocking my signature box braids and a woman with short natural hair stopped to ask me if all the hair was mine and if I was trying for sister locks - I guess because my braids were so tiny. As I was attempting to answer her she decided she'd reach out and touch my hair. It happened so fast that I didn't really get a chance to react, but I was mortified that a complete stranger thought it was okay to just touch a part of me without permission.
Box braids, Spring 2007
Fast forward to now and I don't allow strangers to touch my hair, I don't care how cool they think it is. I'm flattered when people stop me in the street or on the subway and chat me up about hair, but I will say no if they ask to touch it. HOWEVER, if I have some sort of connection I don't mind and depending on how close we are asking may not be necessary; my close friends touch my hair, will pull it from my face if it's windy or a strand has escaped the hold of a bobby-pin; my sisters touch my hair in both admiration and if they suddenly need to fix it, and my dad sometimes cocks his head to the side and asks "how I get my hair like that" while reaching for a lock of hair, and of course my fiance will stroke my hair absent-mindedly; he even helps me wash it sometimes. Since I view my hair as part of my body, being allowed to touch it is a matter of intimacy which strangers, or people who I don't know too well, aren't afforded.

But there have been a few times I felt it was okay. When I was working with kids last year, I let the little girl who was teased and shamed for her natural texture feel mine to make her feel better;  a few months back a co-worker was admiring a fluffy braid out - this might have been Valentine's Day. She's natural too, but always seems to struggled with her hair and I'm actually not close to her at all - we barely say hello to each other. Anyway, one day I saw her rocking a wash and go with her hair a little poofy and I could see it on her face that she wasn't comfortable even though I thought it was cute. I bumped into her in the kitchen and complimented her on her hair and she suddenly opened up to me about how unsure she had been of rocking her texture and how she always liked my hair (color me surprised that she even noticed me!). So the day I had my hair big and poofy she came up to me and chatted me about how I did it, what products and methods to use etc and asked me if she could touch it and I actually said yes. I was slightly uncomfortable with it, because of what I previously stated about hair touching being intimate, but I really wanted her to feel good about her hair. We're not buddies or anything now but I think I helped her in some way and that gave me some satisfaction.

So those are my views on hair touching! How do you guys feel about it? Do you let strangers touch your hair, why or why not? Let us know!


  1. i guess people can't help themselves. Sometimes i find myself reaching out to touch people's hair too and sometimes run my hands through their hair. You can call it an attraction :)

  2. I think that I am against random people touching my hair. Although I haven't had too many instances of it.

    You bring up a valid point of how its kind of an intimate gesture. That made me see it in a whole different light. Also why some people do tend to get very upset. It's a part of your body and people shouldn't feel like they can just go around touching people's head.

    My boyfriend will play with my hair or touch it and just thinking about some random stranger doing that gives me the heebie-jeebies.. lol I, like you let close friends and family touch my hair though.

  3. I think as a black woman I've been taught that no one should touch my hair unless they ask permission first.

    For me I don't like it when guys touch my hair. This goes back to high school when I rocked weaves. The guys thought they were slick by rubbing the top of my head to feel if I had braided hair underneath (the tale-tale sign of a weave). That always made me uncomfortable. And not only that but I see it as a sign of disrespect. This hadn't happened since 1998 but this past Monday a guy friend of mine decided it was ok to do this. I yelled at him in front of all our friends. I told him he should know better than to touch a woman's head. I was so mad. He never once did this in the 11 years of me knowing him. He didn't have a reason for doing it either (so he says).

    Thanks for this posting. I knew other black women went through this but never heard anyone talk about it in an article.


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