After a couple of weeks I was no longer offended. I got used to it I guess. I left with a sense of pride that the roots of my culture and the fact that I wore my hair proudly in Senegalese twists were accepted and considered one of the most beautiful things they have ever seen.
It doesn’t stop there either. Earlier this year I took a trip to Europe, visiting the countries of France and Italy. While English was spoken much more frequently there, I still noticed that there wasn’t too many people of color. At least in the form of travelers that is.
During my travels I witnessed some of the same things as I did in the cities of China.
I had box braids installed so I could focus on taking in the beauty of Paris and Rome and once again was greeted with stares. Constant stares. My first thought here was, “do I look like a tourist? Well I can’t really blend in. I hope this doesn’t end up like the movie Taken!”
But then I remembered the box braids flowing down my back. Could it be that they too love the art of African hair braiding?
As a matter of fact it was! My tour guide, a native of Italy, asked politely if she could touch my hair and told me how beautiful it was.
I appreciated the fact that she asked as opposed to when I was visiting the Vatican and admiring the art in the Sistine Chapel and had an older lady take a handful of my hair to feel the texture between her fingers.
In return I quickly turned around with a look of “you better back up off me!” because we weren’t allowed to speak. Or when I was at a Dinner Opera one evening enjoying the show and caught a couple snapping multiple photos of me.
I can think of many other occasions. Such as shopping for souvenirs and receiving direct stares to my head with looks of awe on their faces. Maybe they were trying to figure out how it was done?
At any rate, what I’ve learned is that something I think to be so common and normal like having my hair braided by African queens, other cultures really admire it.
Maybe it’s the fact that they may never get to have their hair braided or twisted into these alluring styles? Or maybe it just further stresses the beauty of the texture of African American hair that is sometimes over looked?
Whatever the case is, the reactions I have received while traveling has definitely reinforced the love I have for my hair. It is beautiful. African hair braiding is beautiful. This experience is something everyone can learn from. We should value our hair styles as much as other cultures do!
Have you traveled abroad with your hair braided? What are some of the reactions you received?
Originally posted 2015-09-12 15:00:26.