“No, you cannot…” “Why not?” “Because I don’t want you to, and I don’t know where your hands have been…” Yes y’all, it happened. Some lady in the grocery store asked if she could touch my hair, as she was coming at me with her hands. Umm, I don’t think so!
Yes we are about to go there. The “strangers touching my hair” subject has been around lately, and more times than it should be. You have people fascinated and wanting to touch Black hair – especially natural haired women – at their jobs, in the grocery store, during a stroll in the park, and at football games.
I can attest that people always want to touch my hair; they are not just friends and family, but complete strangers as well. Once they have their fingers in your hair, it’s usually added with a few comments to further their fascination. They say things like, “Oh wow! Your hair is really soft,” “You have a good grade of hair,” and “I really like your hair.” I mean, I understand your interest and attraction to my hair, but you don’t need to put your fingers in my hair to validate your comment!
The Fascinated Stranger
This unwanted attention comes about at any given moment. Being natural tends to attract stares, whispers, curiosity, side-way glances, comments, and of course unwelcomed grabs, tugs, and pulls.
Yes, natural hair is becoming more accepted and loved by Black women today, but to do a “sneak to touch just to see if my hair is soft or real” is unacceptable.
Additionally, the claim that only white people get the urge to touch our natural hair would be inaccurate; to tell the truth, it is other black women who come up and make the decision to put their hands in our hair as well. Just because you are my “sista”, it does not give you a right to cop a feel in my natural tresses.
Three Reasons Why It’s Not Right
You might be thinking, ‘Wow, she is really passionate about strangers touching her hair…’ Well, you are right! I can understand if you ask me, and I have the opportunity to say, “No.” But coming at me with that glazed look in your eyes, with your hands in a claw formation is a “Hell no!” in my book. Here are a few reasons why it’s just not right to want to touch a stranger’s hair:
1. It’s strange and creepy – What satisfaction are you going to get by touching my hair? I mean, really, who does that? You are literally extending your fingers out to pet my hair, and you don’t know me. If you think my hair is beautiful, or if you like the style I am wearing for that day, just tell me. I would be less offended by your words. You don’t need to touch me in order to get your compliment across.
Christina Snider says
Tell em don’t touch u…
Wyeisha Melyssa Bryant says
I dont get mad. I have ‘4c’ hair but its super soft that i always touch it. I wouldn’t mind anyone touching it because even i can’t keep my hand out of it lol
Artra Veal says
I say, unless they’re not my close family or close friend, don’t let people touch your hair. Haters don’t always show their true colors.
Monique Scott says
“4c but soft” like saying 4c cant be soft… all hair types can be soft 4c doesnt mean anything
I know rt! I read between the lines there too. You know, this is the sadness, there are sooooooooo many thinly disguised negative insinuations and messages around 4c hair. I feel it’s no accidental thing. 4c hair is the furthest you can get in structure from european hair, and in the Eurocentric-beauty brainwashed societies we live in – bombarded with negative messages about black women/race, it’s an uphill struggle to continue to be positive about who we truly are. Let’s face it, it’s 4a ‘up’ hair that’s hailed to the top of the food chain even (so sadly) in the natural hair community. Still the propaganda flourishes(!)
Aliyah Morrison says
I feel bad now I have 4 a and up hair i hzve 3c/4a hair and only my brothers hate it everyone else loves it .
Allyson Wright says
I had it happen to me at work. I was so unprepared for it. It happened so fast. I work in a mill with mostly guys; white guys.
He reached out to touch my hair while simultaneously saying what’s going on with your hair. This was not a compliment. He then says that I need to cut it off. But then the next words out of his mouth were “if I could grow hair like that I would so rock a fro!” WTF? You say you hate my hair but really you envy it! SMDH!
Kelly Dooley says
Yeah comments like that make you want to go off…
I’d ask him why he thought I needed to cut it off, is it dysfunctional hair or something? Then tell him this is true natural black hair; not everyone in the world is white, and that’s alright.
Kimberley Marchena says
I just tell them I’d prefer it if they keep their hands to themselves. It’s not so much the touching it self, but most people just have a go without asking. That bothers me. When asked politely I might say yes, depending on my mood haha.
I have always gotten compliments from the people who want to touch and sometimes people tell me they’re jealous of my hair.
In the Netherlands (where I live) the people I have encountered that wanted to touch my hair are just curious in a positive manner and they mean no harm, so I don’t get angry.
Steen How says
You took the words straight from my mouth! Just because you like something on another does not give you the right to extend your hands to them. Okay what about my necklace, or my shoes, or my booty?? Just cause you like them, you just gonna touch me? Sorry, but no. My hair is part of my body, just like anything else on me, and no you can’t touch it, especially without askin!! Yes ma’am great article! It had to be said…
Dorothy Gordon says
I hate when I can’t comb through my natural hair because it hurts & breaks off , I am glad that I have the option of being ablr to straighten it or put a relaxer in it to make style it better..If you wear it naural without styling it it makes people think you don’t care about yourself, my personal opinion. However, being Back, and know where you’re coming from. Personally, it you prefer hair standing straight on your head eithout any shspe or form, that’s you. But I prefer straighten, or relalaxed to style it becoming to my face. Peaople ( employers) judge you by appearance& let say you appear on the job, depending on the position you are holding, the natural without style looks bad, my opinion. You are entitled to the way you feel. But let’s face it, these jobs have certsin standards.
So, you’re saying the styles which exist for natural hair are not actually styles? Worse than that you’re saying a european standard of beauty (straight hair) is superior to your own natural hair, that you feel must be ‘corrected’ in some way to look and be acceptable. It appears you don’t really accept who/what you are naturally if you never accept the hair (or anything) you were born with. How about your features…are they too black or different too? Should you alter them, in your honest opinion, because the corporate world has ‘certain standards’? Where does the alteration stop then??
Steen How says
I’m sorry Dorothy, but I don’t agree with you saying that “people judge you by appearance…on the job.” I work in a office setting and I rock my twist outs, 2 strand twists, and my Afro and I’m in a manager position there. I have not had any complaints and I’m the only natural there will mostly White people working there. I’ve had many compliments from others and of course they want to touch my hair and I say “no…” but I’ve never had a negative experience there. I’ve been there many years. Even when I had my interview, I had my twist out. So you can’t speak for corporations and hiring managers. Wear your hair straight or relaxed if you like, that’s you…but don’t say “these jobs have certain standards,” and lumping all corporate and office jobs in one bunch.
No one asked for you to judge natural hair, oh and why are you on the site if your hair is relaxed? Seriously I have seen some “relaxed” hair that is unkempt,scruffy, and struggling. I am a very professional, very natural, very esteemed registered nurse, my hair has been natural for 2 years and never once have I looked like I don’t care about me. Matter of fact I care about me so much that I let my hair come from the root and twist to the tips, and deal with it gracefully. So you are more than allowed your opinion but you do not realize how much natural women don’t care what you think.
Courtney Gray says
Get over yourself
Courtney Gray says
Its just hair like if they yanking it then it’s a problem but if they just feelin it then it’s ok
Raynel Beall says
I hate when people other than my hair dresser touch my natural hair.If you are not my hair dresser or significant other keep your hands to yourself and out of my bubble.
Sakina Pecchillo says
I have a personal space issue. I dont want people I dont know or am comfortable with touching me period. That’s because I don’t know what you were just doing with your hands two seconds ago lol. People are always trying to touch my hair whether its curly or straight. I take a step back or to the side and laughably say I have intimacy issues. After that no one is offended and I don’t have their germs on my body lol.
Maxine WaxineReid says
Ruth – our exact convo from earlier
Artra Veal says
How you cope is bob and weave. Peep them out before they get to you. Don’t allow them to touch your hair. That’s rude. I don’t know where your hands been.
Maranda Younger says
Touch em back
Davida Braxton says
I have personal space issue and anyone to touch my hair, ESPECIALLY women. is too intimate for me. Besides I don’t need no jealous bitch putting their negative energy onto my hair. No damn way..Just back the he’ll up off me.
Panama M America says
Agrees with Davida Braxton
Cori Wilson says
I don’t like strangers walking up and touching my hair or any other part of my body.
I personally find it patronising, when done by a white person, as invariably along with it comes some patronising question of comment and facial expression – as though they were at the zoo! – which I find truly offensive. When really put out, I’ve been know to respond with ‘I’m a different colour to you, you know, not a different species(!)’ … They seem to get the message, I hope(!)
I have no problem with persons wanting to touch my hair. It makes me feel proud that my natural hair is standing out in a positive way. No one ever wanted to touch it when it was relaxed. I figure by allowing them to touch it ( after all it is wonderfully soft) breeds for more acceptance of natural hair. Besides when I see other naturals I WANT to touch theirs too. Maybe it’s a cultural thing (I’m from Trinidad) besides so far it has only been other naturals wanting to touch my hair. Go figure.
I agree with the writer, my husband is the only person who can touch my hair without permission, sometimes I forget that he has a pass though and it gets weird. I think it is rude because I don’t run up to white women and go, “OMG your hair is so (insert preferred adjective), can I touch it? ” So I expect the same treatment. A sneak feel, where they do that? Seriously, does that happen? I have yet to experience that and hopefully I never do. I can’t be held resposible for what happens after that.
Crystal Roberson. says
I don’t mind when others want to touch my hair out of curiosity. As long as these people ask me before reaching for it then there wouldn’t be a problem.