It’s 2015, and we’re still taking the self love and appreciation thing seriously. We’re still obsessing (rightfully so, I must add) over our God given curls. I’m loving the natural revolution and influx of Afro appreciation within the black community, because it took us such a long while to get here.
Sidebar: I feel I must make this clear really early on that my support of the natural movement does not equal disdain for non-naturals. I strongly believe in autonomy and expression. Simply put, I am not one to judge you for doing you, boo boo. For me, the natural hair movement symbolises a freedom to express myself and feel equally as beautiful as my weaved up, relaxed counterparts, whilst rocking a big ass, kinky ‘fro.
So yeah. Yay to 4a,b,z,q hair. We’re making Afro hair normal again, and retrieving our big ol’ Black Panther ‘Angela Davis’ ‘fros from the 70s dress up cupboard and rocking them with as much vivacity as the 70s woman. I love it. I’m so here for it.
What I’m not really here for though, is the whole “Touch my hair and Die” phenomenon we apparently hold dear within the natural (actually, make that the entire black) community. It is a taboo for people to see our hair, be fascinated by its haloed appearance and resistance to all laws of gravity, and wonder what it feels like. Are we being too harsh on the novices who are just being introduced to our curls and naps after years of hiding them under weaves and wigs and are interested in what our real hair looks and feels like? Now, i’m only posing a question because frankly, I don’t see the big deal in people touching my hair (and scalp haaa!). In fact, I sort of love people playing with my hair. It’s one of the reasons I loathe weaves – I recoil at the thought of not having at least my scalp within [easily] accessible reach. It really freaks me out.
I’ve often heard women say that men they are dating “know the deal” and know they’re not allowed to touch their hair. There are many memes and comedy sketches citing the black woman’s fury at having her weave stroked for me to remain clueless about the etiquette of black hair. My first ever weave was in 2013, so I blame that for my lack of awareness on the matter from a young age. Anyways, now I know, and I’m very confused. Why are we so enraged at the thought of someone touching our hair? It really boggles my mind.
I grew up in the heart of the British countryside where black people were an extremely rare commodity. SO rare, that we would stop to say hello at the supermarket if we encountered a new face. Needless to say, my white friends were more than inquisitive about my hair and its ability to remain in one position. They had never seen it before, so naturally, they wanted to touch it. They wanted to dissect every inch of its science to find out why it was able to hold a braid without elastic bands. The questions did get annoying at one point, because every new friend I made asked the same thing, but I understood their fascination.
When I went natural, I got the same thing. The bigger the thing got, the longer the stares, the greater the fascination. Whether we like it or not, our hair is a statement. A big, “notice me cuz my hair is big and fly and I know it too” statement. I love it. You better respect the fro, peoples. People would ask me if my hair was real, how I got it to stay like that and if they could feel it. Now, in some ways, I understand that having strangers cruising their hands (which you have no clue where they have been) through your hair might be a tad creepy. I have never experienced this, and this may be due to sheer British modesty – we look, internally comment and move on. Perhaps this is the reason for my confusion. Those who touch my hair often politely ask, and are really surprised when they feel how soft and curly it is. In my way, I have educated them on black hair. They understand that although it is firm, it is also really soft. On close inspection, they see that my hair is a mass of tight coils rather than “matted wool”, as it is often described in Literature. It is my way of dispelling the notion that our hair is thick, tough, unmanageable, and unacceptable, because I can see the ignorance being lifted from their eyes after my Lesson In Black Hair 101.
But this is just me. I think it is sort of nice that people want to touch my hair. I welcome it even. Perhaps if a random stranger on the bus was to yank my hair under the guise of fascination, I would be getting into my best Taekwondo position ready for a showdown. I’m just questioning this common idea is all, and throwing a curve ball (or perhaps not) your way.
I’d like to know what you think about this! My bias may be due to the fact that I love people playing with my hair, so I’m looking forward to being challenged on this. I just want to know if having people touch our hair is really, that deep is all!