Gender & Identity, Life

For the thousandth time, please, stop touching my hair

Even when you ask "Can I touch it?" and your fingers still pinches upon a curl or two, yes, that still counts as touching it.

*Inhale*

*Exhale*

Thank you for liking my textured hair. I appreciate you referring to my hair as beautiful.

But unless I give you permission to do so, my hair is not here for your hands to fiddle through and contact.

As someone who identifies as a woman who is mixed race with African American descent, I am very particular when it comes to who can touch my hair, and who can’t. And I would like to think that I have every right to be, but I know people who would disagree.

One child decided to make monkey noises as she touched my hair. Click To Tweet

Repetition can get quite annoying sometimes, yes? So growing up, experiencing people touching my hair without my permission, especially if they are random people who I don’t know and will never see again, it got quite annoying after awhile. Some white girls or white women would reach for my hair and say “It’s sooo exotic,” “It’s so bouncy,” “It’s so…different.” Some black girls or black women would reach for my hair and say “Oooh, you have that good hair,” “Oh you’re totally mixed right? I can tell by this hair.” “Can I borrow this?” Sometimes, both parties would say, “Oh, I know I don’t know you, but you have such great hair!”

What I want to say is “Thank you. Now please get your hands out. I don’t know the last time you have washed them. It has taken me quite a bit of time to scrunch it with the right amount of leave-in conditioner,” and if the situation called for it “and you’re right, I don’t know you.”

Thank you. Now please get your hands out. Click To Tweet

Instead, what came out was my shoulder becoming stiff and a forced “Thank you.”

A bit after I started college, I became more vocal when people either reached for my hair or touched it without my permission.

Even when you ask “Can I touch it?” and your fingers still pinches upon a curl or two, yes, that still counts as touching it.

Even as I am getting to know you as a person, yes, you still have to ask my permission.

Even when you ask 'Can I touch it?' and your fingers still pinches upon a curl or two, yes, that still counts as touching it. Click To Tweet

And I can understand that some people come from families where touching one another’s hair is a form of bonding, even if they don’t ask first. I can also understand that the majority of people certainly have no ill will or crude intentions behind their curiosity.

But it doesn’t help that it still comes across as them wanting me to become a toy to play with. I am also not a fan of “Oh, you remind me of a poodle,” or “Take a compliment, I just wanted to play with your hair.”

Yeah, not cool, actually. Not cool at all.

I’m not touching your hair without your permission. In fact, I’m not touching it all…because most of the time, I don’t know you! I expect the same courtesy.

One child decided to make monkey noises as she touched my hair. Regardless of whether the noises were directed at me or something else, it still wasn’t comfortable for me.

Regardless of whether the noises were directed at me or something else, it still wasn't comfortable for me. Click To Tweet

I enjoy it when my mother, my sisters, my cousin, or my aunt touches my hair. Wanting to do something with it, seeing how much it has grown (I was addicted to cutting my hair at one point, so their quite happy I’m letting it grow out now). I allow close friends of mine have their fingers run through my hair, and it can be relaxing. Obviously, none of these people in my life require my permission, but sometimes, they do ask regardless, and it’s sweet.

Reading Their Eyes Were Watching God, one of the best scenes for me was reading Janie having her hair touched by her husband Tea Cake. I melted!

Even if you are a stranger and you actually asked permission without trying to reach for it, on a good day, I would probably let you touch it. Willingly! Because it’s rare!

Consider this as a guide for the next time you want to touch someone else’s hair. Because even if they said they were fine with it, about eighty to ninety percent of the time, they’re not.