“Do NOT Touch My Hair”// The Natural Hair debacle…

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. 

photo cred: The Huffington Post

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!

xxx

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15 thoughts on ““Do NOT Touch My Hair”// The Natural Hair debacle…

  1. Really loved reading this!

    I totally agree with you. I’m natural too and personally I’m not too crazy about people touching my hair – mainly because I don’t really like physical touch in general. It’s just me. My hair is very intimate and people touching it for their own pleasure creeps me out. It’s not completely hands-off but it is a little weird for me,

    That’s just me though – I know this isn’t the popular reason.

    • Ah thanks Mary! Thanks for shedding your light on this topic. I never really got why it seems such a big deal, but I sort of understand it if it’s not your thing.

      It just sometimes feel as though there’s this unspoken rule amongst black women that says our hair is off bounds always.

      Thanks for reading girl!
      xxx

      • SEYI! I am loving your blog *cries*
        I totally agree with ‘TheWriterMary’, in that I just don’t like people touching me in general so I naturally flinch or bring out the karate chop hands when I see peoples hands gravitating towards my hair haha

      • *coversw face* Thanks girlie! Lol. Yeah so I can see now that there are different reasons why people don’t like their hair being touched… I’m enjoying these opinions! xxx

  2. Anything that is associated with the features of a black ethnic seems to be fascinating and that includes skin and that includes hair. I suppose it due to its versatility.

    It’s funny how black women are not AS facinated when it comes to the “silk straight hair”. And even if we are we automatically seem to know our boundaries. I call it been home trained.

    For me, I personally can’t get round people touching my hair unless they’re about to do something with it. I haven’t been used to people touching my hair for no reason before, so I’m thinking…why now?. The only time I will reconsider this thought is when a him want to get jiggy jiggs at night…otherwise nope.

    For weaves, I think I just fear that a thread that is sown in might just fall out of place or loosen before its real expiry date.

    • I do agree that our entire ‘blackness’ is always fascinating to explore. I also think that there are certain training which might be common in a black community and not white. My friends who are white have no qualms about ruffling peoples hair as a joke or playing with each other’s hair, because they have never seen it as a big deal or whatever. But I do get where you’re coming from!

      And hahaa at a thread falling out. Once, a friend of mine was playing with my raggedy braids and it fell out. The look of horror on her face when she asked me if I was ‘balding’ was one of the most mortifying moments in my teenage years, LOL!

  3. No. I don’t want you to touch my hair. My man can but a random stranger fascinated by my fro…no. the world is not a zoo and my uniqueness is not a novelty. You can comment. You can ask questions but hell no you cannot pat it.

    • Hey Shahidah!

      The more I think about this, the more I wonder if my opinions are skewed because people who have touched my hair have at least been acquaintances of some sort. And because, like a cat, I love a good hair playing sesh. But I do understand that for some, hair is a terribly intimate thing. But I will say that the uniqueness of the fro (in this day and age) is still somewhat of a novelty. People are still just getting used to the idea that Beyonce’s mass of spiralling curls are not God given, but from a little kid in India (lol, I joke I kid!). Having afros, whilst getting more popular by the day, is still very different, very bold, very unique at the moment. I love that we’re normalising it more by the second, it really warms my heart. Perhaps then we will walk the streets unbothered!

      Thank you for reading and commenting!!!
      Seyi
      xxx

      • My boss touched my hair when i first started wearing it but he was the one who actually told me to go natural when i was transistioning lol acquaintances Yes. Random strangers No lol

  4. The natural hair movement has caught on down here too, but there are still more people relaxing and weaving than not. The Caucasians and others who live here don’t appear fascinated at all – but maybe I better ask somebody. When I do, my other question will be: “What’s up with some naturalistas thinking that going natural means not combing out your hair?”

    • Hahahaha!
      So I actually hardly comb my hair also. But this is because my hair is in ringlets, and I would shed more hair than a cat if I were to comb mine daily. Perhaps that is why others don’t comb?

      Oh, the natural hair wave has hit the UK by storm. three out of five women are natural now, and it’s so amazing!!!!

  5. This is a great post! Sorry it took me so long to add my own two cents!!! I think this is a very important discussion, especially as you have already mentioned, since there is a new wave of natural hair appreciation. Lets face it, natural hair is a fashion statement in as much as it is a political one. I completely understand where you are coming from when you say you don’t mind people touching your hair, it is your preference.

    However, I think the main reason black women are not keen on having their hair touched is because it makes them feel like they are creature at the zoo, which very easily makes many uneasy and uncomfortable. I think there is a very thin and a times blurry line between genuine interest and just ignorance. If people who ask to touch my hair were in fact interested in learning about the science behind natural hair, then why not google it? (I had to play the devils advocate!) There is an increasing amount of literature on natural hair and what it’s all about, they should educate themselves!

  6. Ronke girl,
    Thank you! Your support altogether is always overwhelming! LOOL it seems the unanimous decision is no touching, more asking haha. I understand! we’re not animals!

    xxx

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