Can I Touch Your Hair?

CNN had a feature a while back, ‘Can I Touch It?’ The Fascination with Natural, African-American Hair’  and I’ve heard from many naturals and it seems to be a recurring topic. Some ask…what exactly is natural hair? By definition “natural hair” for black women is, non-processed or non-chemically altered hair. I call it relaxer-free. Today, so many women are ditching the perms and  learning to love and embrace their natural hair all over again. For most of us, we thought a perm was the way to go. Easier to manage, straight was great, and with the first sign of new growth it was nothin’ to slap that creamy crack in our head.

Keneesha Hudson, owner of Urbanbella Salon, explains what it means for women to “go natural” with their hair.

For those of you that don’t know…I am the Queen of protective styling, but in between deep conditions, new styles, etc. I’ll rock my bantu knots, fro, wash-n-go…whatever!  I’ve also noticed there have been more and more instances where someone (especially non-black men and women), would compliment and/or even ask to touch my hair! I laugh and smile, but only because they are genuinely intrigued. To be honest, I even get the same reaction when I wear natural-inspired styles (i.e., Marley braids, twists, etc.). Some women find it offensive to touch their hair, while others don’t care one way or the other. I’m not saying it’s ok for a random stranger to touch your hair without permission, but what I am saying is that people do find our hair very “fascinating”! But don’t get me wrong —  if they are not respecting your personal space, let em’ know…”hey, you really shouldn’t do that without asking first”.  I’ve said it before, we are the only ethnic group to “truly” have a diversity of hair textures, styles, etc. and they are ALL beautiful! From kinky, curly, wavy, coiled, twisted, loc’d, relaxed, fro’d out — just to name a few!

In 2008, Renee Martin, expressed her thoughts about “touching natural hair” from a different perspective in her blog Womanist Musings  titled, “Can I Touch Your Hair? Black Women and The Petting Zoo”.  She stated:

Today I have the confidence to loudly proclaim no you may not touch my hair.  I am not an animal at a petting zoo.  I will not be your path to the exotic. Even worse than the ones that ask, are those that assume that they have right to touch me without permission.

In a 2009 Essence article featuring Allison Keyes, she shared her experience through her opinion piece “Keep Your Hand’s Off’. Read it here.  In a more recent article: “Is It Okay for Strangers to Touch Your Natural Hair?” Nicole Marie Melton wrote:

The reality is that historically, Black women haven’t sported natural hair en masse, so it’s only natural (no pun intended) for people to be a bit curious about my fluffy fro. I actually welcome people to feel my hair and talk openly about their curiosity.

 
 How do you feel about people touching your hair? Have you experienced getting more attention because your hair is natural? Share your thoughts.