I love to travel and in doing so I tend to always get my hair braided before a long trip. The convenience of it just makes the trip much more enjoyable. Whether it be box braids or Senegalese twist half way down my back, it’s one less thing I have to worry about because I mean, come on, who really wants to deal with their hair while they are on vacation?!
When traveling to other countries, one thing I’ve learned most is that other cultures love braided hair. And when I say love, I mean LOVE! They are so obsessed with it which results in constant stares and uninvited reaches for a feel.
While in college I had the opportunity to study abroad in China. I spent the summer traveling from Beijing, Nanjing, Hangzhou, Shanghai and many other cities in between. I went with a group of majority African Americans and most of the girls, including myself, had braids.
From the moment we stepped off the plane we got continuous stares. My first thought was, had they never seen black people before?!
At first the stares were annoying but then we kept hearing the word “beautiful.” In cities where little of the English language was spoken hearing an English word was a sigh of relief. Ah. They think we’re beautiful. That’s why they keep staring!
Later, my instructor translated some of the comments and said that the natives loved our hair. They weren’t used to seeing many people of color and immediately though we were visiting from Africa and thought we were beautiful.
While visiting different tourist locations, such as The Great Wall of China in Beijing we caught numerous individuals snapping photos of us. One couple even asked if I could take a photo holding their baby!
As strange as it was I immediately had a taste of what some celebrities may go through when venturing out on the streets. The constant stares. The photos being taken often without permission.