Raise your hand if this has happened to you. While minding your own business, someone compliments you on your natural hair and then proceeds to invade your personal space and touch it. Okay, put your hands down. It has been a while, but this has happened to me. It happened a lot when I had a close-cropped fade. For some reason, folks thought it was invitation to touch my head. It also happened when I wore braids. I remember some older ladies were so taken with the style, they each played with a braid. I was younger then. Much younger.

Check out this NPR essay, which warns you may never know what is in someone’s hair. In other words, look, don’t touch. If I can help just one person understand why touching someone’s hair is inappropriate, this blog post will be a success. Enjoy!

7 thoughts to “Look, Don’t Touch

  • Blanc2

    Used to happen to my wife all the time when she was wearing dreads.

  • Nikki

    I saw this on NC. I don’t think it is a race issue. I really think this depends on each individual, race aside. Either way, I don’t get why people walk up to strangers and stroke/touch/run their fingers through their hair. It’s weird, and rude. I’m sure they mean no harm, but still.

  • Me

    I can relate, people would just go to my daughter and start touching her hair. Like Nikki said they might not mean any harm but it’s just plain RUDE.

  • Lovelyn

    This used to happen to me all the time when I was in my 20s and had locs. Now I have loose natural hair and it doesn’t happen nearly as often. When it does though I feel really annoyed.

  • sko3

    I play with my daughter’s hair all the time, and she loves it. But when a teacher at her pre-school approached her to admire her coils, she (reportedly) said, “I have privacy in my hair.”

    Even at 3 (and a new English speaker at that), she clearly gets it: family can touch, all others–stay back!

    • Percola

      Love that reply!

  • Njoie

    I love rich conversations about us and our hair!

    You might also be interested to check out Dr. Althea Prince’s book: The Politics of Black Women’s Hair

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