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Please, Don’t Touch My Hair

It’s pretty safe to say that black women are very versatile in the way we style our hair. Whether it’s sew-ins, natural/relaxed hair, braids, twists or locs, we know how to rock them all. Often times, people are amazed and begin to wonder what our hair is like. They wonder if it’s real, how often do we wash it, where it came from and how we make our hair “do that.” Some even go as far as to touch our hair, and that’s when things get a little awkward. We understand you’re curious, but here’s the problem that comes with your wonders. 

Some may think that admiring our hair with a gentle touch is a way to give a complement. Curiosity is one thing, but here’s what goes on in ones head when you ask to touch their hair. One thing that strikes me, is that it invades my personal space. There have been times where people have asked to touch my hair, and before I can get my answer out, their hands are already making their way onto my tresses. At that point, it feels awkward, uncomfortable and rude. You wouldn’t want anyone touching you without your consent, right? The same rule applies to this. If you’re trying to compliment my hair, you can do so without a touch. A simple “You’re hair looks nice!” Works fine. Just please, don’t touch.

It can also be objectifying and dehumanizing when people touch my hair. I don’t mean to be too harsh, but it makes me feel like an animal in a petting zoo. In fact, in history Black bodies have been the main attraction for zoos and freak shows. We’ve always been looked at as outcasts. European beauty standards have shyed away from Black women since the beginning. We’re told we aren’t beautiful unless we have lighter skin, long hair, and no fat on our thighs. While some view our hair as “exotic” or “different” to the norm, we find beauty in it.

One comment that really grinds my gears is when I’m asked if my hair is real. This one really hurts and it confuses me at times. What could make you believe that my hair isn’t mine? This question is insulting and a stereotype that black women face more than often. Black women wear these protective styles to give our hair a break, and allow it to grow while locked in the braids or twists that are holding the style. And lets be honest, black women’s hair does grow at a slower rate than others, but its also not impossible for our hair to reach the middle of our backs. Also, I believe anyone can and is allowed to wear hair extensions. 

Sometimes i get asked, “Why do you wear your hair like that?”

Well the same reason why you wear flashy clothes, name brand shoes or dye your hair. Because you WANT to and you CAN. These questions may be because people are unknowledgeable about the subject, but there are different and better ways to ask about my hair. 

I’ve made a habit of trying to educate people about my hair. Other times, I feel like it’ll only lead to more questions that could potentially become insulting. If you ever get approached by these questions, you honestly can answer in three ways. One, you can kindly tell them yes/no. Two, you can answer with a keen smile. Lastly, you could just not answer at all. You do not have to prove your aesthetic or culture to anyone, even if they only think its just a question. Solange said it best in “Don’t Touch My Hair.” My hair isn’t just something that sits on top of my head. It is the crown that i chose to wear effortlessly in various ways. It can be very fascinating. I get fascinated by it as well. 

Stay true to you, and keep flourishing!

HCXO

Just your unaverage aspiring writer
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