CAN You Touch My Hair? Response To The ‘You Can Touch My Hair’ Exhibit

You Can Touch My Hair (1)If you ever go to the Manhattan area, Union Square is a must see spot, from the park to the farmers market, and who am I kidding, the shopping and the FOOD!!

A couple of weekends ago in addition to all the wonderful things Union Square had to offer, the naturals were out in full glory. Yep that’s what we are, we are naturals, a phenomenon to behold.

Women stood in Union square holding signs asking people to touch their hair, in the name of ‘education’. The exhibit, yes exhibit was called ‘You Can Touch My Hair” and social media exploded with pictures, commentary and opinions galore.

Well its no great surprise that I have an opinion too, and let me waste no time in sharing it: I am sorry but you absolutely CANNOT touch my hair.

Don’t’ get me wrong, I get the premise of the exhibit, at first it sounds like a really cool thing to do, stand in Union Square in an effort to start a conversation about black hair. So many people do not know about what it is that grows naturally out of our heads, and if they do know, they probably have not had the experience of touching it.

You Can Touch My Hair (1)    You Can Touch My Hair (2)

Then I thought about it some more, would I actually standing in the middle of a crowd with an open invitation to get head fondled by strangers? Am I a pet or some new unexplored fetish? At the end of the day when someone touches you and walks away what are they left with? What is the conversation like? Oh your hair feels like cotton candy! Errm, what then?

This is where the issue is, blogs, forums, social media conversations are all an effort to create a sense of “normal” for women who are not familiar with their natural hair after wearing a relaxer for so many years. There is also a valiant effort to help women get healthy when it comes to their hair which can be a universal thing, for natural, relaxed, black, white Hispanic or Chinese, we all want to be educated on healthy hair care practices.

In my opinion, when you create a spectacle you take away from what is considered normal, which is the ultimate goal. It is just plain weird to get randomly fondled whether you are a part of an exhibit or just walking down the street.


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About Petra

Hi I'm Petra Lomax , a staff writer and editor for . I am Jamaican born and raised and moved to the United States in my early 20's. I have a BA in Political Science and International relations as well as an MBA and a Masters In Project Management. I love travel, culture and anything that has to do with creative media and business.

About Petra

Hi I'm Petra Lomax , a staff writer and editor for . I am Jamaican born and raised and moved to the United States in my early 20's. I have a BA in Political Science and International relations as well as an MBA and a Masters In Project Management. I love travel, culture and anything that has to do with creative media and business.


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I digress. Other races of people are curious about our hair because we ourselves are curious about our hair. We need to remember that the majority of African American women relax their hair and are completely unfamiliar with thier natural hair texture too. I wouldn’t be surprised if some black women wanted to touch the participants hair. Just like exhibit or performance-based art, there is usually a provocative/shocking element to draw the viewer in rbut to not take the time to look beyond that into the deeper meaning of the piece is kind of lazy. Good art inspires conversation and questions and discussions and emotions… which I think was the goal.and to interpret an art exhibit and applying it to every black female you see doesn’t really make sense to me. I think most people understand it is an exhibit and you probably won’t want to do that too just some random black girl you see on the street. I mean, they’re holding signs and obviously everyone knew it was an exhibit.
simply chalking this exhibit up to “it was done in poor taste” and “white people will think that they can just touch our hair randomly” isoverly simplistic. And I think we owe it to ourselves too discuss the issues and topics that the exhibit was aiming to raise and not just dismiss it as a tasteless attention grabbing art exhibit. Come on now, we can do better than that. every point you mentioned about the more meaningful issues regarding black hair is completely relevant. I think the aim of the exhibit was to generate those conversations or questions in other people’s minds. Or at least reduce the taboo and mystery of our hair. people of all races are truth about our natural hair texter because it remains on the fringe of our culture and society. Furthermore children exposed to our hair in play unlike straight wavy or loose curl hair. Even most mass produced black dolls have straight hair. so yes, I think curiousity is abound inside and outside of our community regarding the natural texture of our hair.
for me, when I saw of the images of this exhibit what came to my mind was Chris Rock’s documentary good hair and the portion about how do you no touch policy of black women hair relaxed or with extensions or what have you create a psychological barrier in the relationship. Now some of the commentators said no it doesn’t some said yes it does personally and spiritually I believe that it does. It is established route many religions and culture that woman’s hair is a very intimate and private part of her body and 2across the board reject any type of physical contact create a barrier.and I think that no touching rule contribute to that stereo type of black women being stoic, combative, self absorbed divas etc. because a, its a facade and I don’t want you to see the real me i.e. my real hair, or b. my hair and the amount of effort and work I put into making it straight supersedes the need to make a intimate connection with you. to me the overt point the exhibit was making of was about black women and the hair touching issue not so much that its natural hair but just touching my hair in general.
the last thing that really struck me about this exhibit was the visual element of it. And it’s great that the second group of women came into the scene as well because is reinforced that issue to me. On the one side you’ve got these beautiful black women with great make up, natural hair, smiling, and an open welcoming demeaner and then on the other side you got the other black women who also have natural hair but are holding up these signs and they have no makeup on and they are not glowing they do not look approachable. I feel like this is the dicotomy of the black female in the American psyche. There is only two and you can only be one so which one are you?there is an inherent negativity in the latter. And it was reflected in their physical presence their facial expressions and obviously their signs. defensive,indignant and sassy. its like 1 groups attitude is: I wear my hair natural because this is how it grows out of my head and holistic etc and I get that you’re curious about it. and the other group is like my hair is natural because Im opposing oppression and fighting the manand you better not cross me. did anyone else pick up on this in the photo? For me it was profound. I think that we as black women in need to stop being so defensive. The world is not out to get us and even if it is emanating and internalizing all that negativity is hurting no one but ourselves. maybe I’ve been watching too much iyana fix my life lol.
lastly, in regards to sanitation I think that these participants we’re getting down and dirty for their cause quite literally and secondly scientifically I don’t think they can track to any more germs in their hair than if they touch the door handle off any public facility and then touch their hair. You know hands are the number one transporter of germs so if you touch anything that the public touches you’re doomed. II like chick we assumed they probably went home and washed their hair after this.

Paula Spellen Hunte

You can’t touch my hair .

Panama M America

Keep your hands to

Petty Firstlady Blessed


Ashley Jean Baptiste

Syke lol

Lotis Thompson

Touch any part of me, and I will defend myself!

Carmella McCoy

I don’t mind, just ask for permission first

Trinna Marcia

If you use hand sanitizer first

Deborah Wilson

I hope they wash it after dirty hands day is over.

Arry Marie

Um… no. Lol – please don’t touch my hair. They way I feel about it, it’s just hair, and I don’t like to feel like it’s so outlandish that it must be touched. It’s violation of personal space lol. If you ask, though, I usually don’t mind.

Markita Keyes

I get that a lot..omg its so it suppose to be hard?

Liz Marie Maysonet Sostre

I think it’s an interesting exhibit. i love to touch my hair and love when others touch it too. i am also curious by nature and always wonder what other folks texture feels like. Especially curly sisters! our hair is so amazingly unique. the texture in my family alone is wonderous, my mother has 4a, my sister has 3c, my brother has a finer 3c and and i have 4b 4c and i just love touching hair. i understand that not everyone enjoys being touched. I don’t feel like people want to touch your hair out of a purely negative place, though. at least i don’t have feeling when people touch my hair.

Ma'a Georgette

Some people are really nasty, if I don’t kno you don’t touch my african crown

Karmann Williams-Valentine

If you touch my hair, I will touch your face with the back of my hand

Carrolina Rep

Can I touch urs smh

Melissa Lee

I think the reason they did this.. Bc we have angry black woman who will say in a heart beat DONT TOUCH MY HAIR!! These women was saying all black woman is not the same.. And yes if u want to feel my hair u can….if u are a happy black woman I’m sure u understood the message that they was sending..if u are angry of course u would see it differently…

Valerie Wye

Why does one have to be angry if she does not want her hair touched? If I don’t know you and don’t know if your hands are clean then that would be a no. Has nothing to do with my happiness level.

Sakina Pecchillo

I’m a happy black woman and I understand the message. I still wouldn’t let anyone touch my hair or anything else. People do weird things with their hands and don’t always wash them.

HisDestiny Forevvr

Wtf is this nonsense

Phabiola Ridoré

I’m not an animal …so no you can’t touch my hair

Melissa Lee

It’s a message.. The way I took it..

Melissa Lee

I saw the women holding the card saying u can touch my hair.. I didn’t see a card stating that u could touch black women hair if u like.. The person holding the card was inviting stranger to do this… So I don’t understand why would I say I’m not animal when in fact I’m not holding the card.. I’m at home reading this post… Not taking this as they are inviting people to touch my hair nor are they saying I’m a animal

Erina Donk

Nope you can NOT touch MY hair. 1) in our culture strange people should not touch your hair 2) i have 4c hair so i really have to ‘shape’ my hairstyle, if you touch it, it gets out of style and i have to reshape my hair after you done fooling around with it

Ifraj Ingram

I don’t care if you ask permission but I got a questions why is it necessary to touch our hair. It sometimes feel like we’re some majestic creature or something. You can admire or be curious about someone’s hair, clothes, skin etc. Without touching it…IJS

Ifraj Ingram

To me it has more to do with invading one’s personal space

Rachelle Stephens

Some time’s I want to say No I’m not a cat

Farren Every

There’s only a few people I want in my hair and its not a stranger

Carrie Laura-Lee Howe

No you can not touch my damn hair!!! wtf wrong with these people, keep on walkin I said!

Kyra SwiitMystique Warren

Angry Black Women??? I don’t like when people touch me period including the hair and no I’m not an angry black woman, I’m very much happy thank you…

Kyra SwiitMystique Warren

Why do people feel the need to touch other females hair…plus not everyone have good intentions!!

LaConda Phillips

Like the sentiment but not the reality of people touching my hair like they’re petting a rare animal.

Helga Walpole

Lolz, even my white friend who is a man disagreed with this foolishness. He thought why black women, black people specifically feel they need to prove themselves to other races. So what if they are curious about our hair? Let them keep wondering, like they do about other black/ African features. This whole exhibit is just foolish and an embarrassment. I’m no damn science experiment or animal in a zoo. Stop trying to appease white supremacy or other ethnic groups. Our ancestors had no choice in how they had to live their lives, but we do and it’s time Black people said HELL NO. Black people just amuse every time I see s*** like this! SMH

Helga Walpole

And just because a black woman doesn’t want people touching her hair that means she angry. Lol, where did you get that crap from? I don’t like NO ONE touching my hair that includes family. And I have a right to that. Don’t even try and make black woman into something you may think is reason why. People in general just have the right to say NO. What’s so wrong in that? Kiss me teeth, smh.

Nicole Guzman

I don’t mind women touching my staff (very sweet Mexican women) do it, it doesn’t bother me at all…I just don’t want a man that is trying to be “fresh” digging in my scalp…but I’m a touchy Feely person so it doesn’t bother me…I’m natural, most of the time I appreciate the compliment.

Loka NoLabel Jackson

I don’t mind someone touching my hair….if they a hairstylist.. if yu ain’t, better back up b4 yu get popped

Taira Reed

The hell you can. Is this a petting zoo? Last time I checked I was a human being not a llama. Look all day because it’s fab honey yes! But do not violate my space by touching any part of my person. Case closed

Shay Butter

they must be bi racial.

Blessedfrom Above

No, everyone don’t wash their hands…why r people wanting to touch it now…we have been here all these hundreds of years..No No No..can’t touch my hair….

Miriam Pierce McPherson

My hair is VERY private. It’s like asking someone to touch my boobs, or worse. No, you cannot touch, without permisiion.

Amanda Terrell

People are not clean these days. If you touch my hair that now means I have to go through this tedious routine to wash condition dry and set to style. No. Plus its just hair, touch your own.

Cleopatra Jones Best

A complete stranger has no business touching a blk woman’s hair unless she invites them like what these women were doing. But you have some people that will stick out there nasty hands and just touch a blk woman’s hair without even asking that to me is just rude.

Evette Howard

Don’t touch me at all hell

Rana Rouse

I don’t mind as long as you ask first. Many people are curious as to how out natural hair feels. I walked into a pizza joint and this lady was so amazes and excited about MY hair. She absolutely loved it and she asked could she feel it. I dont mind personally.

Ms Moneyca

My coworker ask if she can touch my hair.

Marcia Smith

The only time you can touch my hair is when I’m at a “You can touch my hair” exhibit holding a sign the states “You can touch my hair”!

Dee Deon Dominique

Still can’t touch my hair or me or my babies!!!!! I usually ask: ” can I touch your hair?” And based on their reaction….trust me they get they’re being invasive of my bubble!!

Dee Deon Dominique

Its worst in canada theyll just come and touch your hair or baby without asking you…

Chandradaughterof Janettegranddaughter Ofjames

Uh no you cannot touch my hair! I do not know where your hands have been nor do I know if you have washed your hands . Hands carry all types of diseases and infections. And I don’t want your cooties

Tameki L Pope

I don’t believe I’m an angry black woman but I don’t think people should be just touching my hair or pregnant belly. It’s call personal space. Respect it.

Toni Cheefa Grant

I was in the store when a woman came up to me just to touch my hair without permission. It was awkward for me.

Ashley Carson

No you may not touch my hair