Last night, while I was trying to catch the bartender’s attention just a few minutes after last call had been announced, a girl I didn’t know wedged herself between me and the next partygoer and said, “I just love your hair!” I smiled, thanked her, and kept my eyes on the prize. Just then she asked:

“Can I touch it?”

Here’s the thing: anyone who’s had more than a few inches of afro-textured hair growing out of his or her scalp has probably had someone try to touch it. Sometimes they ask, sometimes they don’t. Sometimes the request is made by another black person considering “going natural,” but more often than not it’s made by a non-black person who wants to treat you like a stuffed animal. It’s rude and weird and frustrating. Either way, dirty sweaty hands on my carefully sculpted naps is not a good idea, and more than anything, I have no desire to be pawed at by a stranger who thinks that what naturally grows out of my head is “cool.” It’s just not happening. So, I flatly told her no.

The funny thing is, this person was not at all interested in waiting for the answer to her own question. Her humid little hand was already only a few inches away from my hair by the time I even had the chance to respond, so the tail end of my “no” was punctuated by a head-to-toe bodyroll of hair-touch dodging. It was as if she had no intention of waiting for my permission — permission that she was certain she would get. And when she did not get that permission and noticed that my catlike reflexes kept her from getting what she wanted, she responded with a gasp followed by a “hmph.” Here was a perfect stranger who asked if she could touch my hair and got offended when I told her no.

I swear that my hair is not that interesting, but this is not the first time that this has happened to me and every time it does I have the same bothersome reaction: a pang of guilt and the need to explain myself. I’m not sure if that guilt comes from the sad faces of the poor, clueless souls who think it’s appropriate to want to touch another person’s hair because it’s “cool,” or from the part of me that knows I’ve just made it seem as though I have a racial chip on my shoulder and have instantly fulfilled the “black girl with an attitude” stereotype just by asking for respect. Therefore, I’ve become pretty good at quickly explaining why damp hands on my hair is not ideal while also throwing in the fact that it’s rather insulting to be objectified just because I am black and my physical blackness is fun to you. I’ve let violation lead to education and schooled every person who has ever tried to touch my hair on the proper way to behave. But not this time.

Maybe I was walking around with a current events-induced bad attitude last night, but instead of playing the racial understanding role, I decided to treat this girl as if she’d just said something completely ridiculous…because she had. I realized that, much like explaining how things work to a man who has just asked a woman if he can touch her breast and then balking when she says no, I could not be bothered to explain to another adult why my body belongs to me. When it comes to my hair, or any part of my body, if the answer is “no” that is something that you need to accept. Period. And I am not here to explain those basic facts of life to you.

  • Ocean Breezy

    I’ve never had anyone ask if they could touch my hair. They (Black and non-Black person) would just take it upon themselves to run their fingers over my braids or even pull on them.

  • http://furahaproject.blogspot.com Furaha

    I wouldn’t have the balls to tell someone off like that, but boy do I want to.

  • lulu

    i had people want to touch my hair because they said it looked soft- i’ve also seen people wnat to touch white womens hair that was really long- or a woman who just had beautiful hair- but when somene says their hair is normal -i applaud you- i dont blame you for that response

  • Alice

    Thembi I applaud you.

  • http://itsoftenbeensaid.wordpress.com Sasha

    Ugh another article about hair…enough already. Obviously you thought your hair is that interesting, enough so to write a two page commentary about it.

  • http://pervertedalchemist.blogspot.com Perverted Alchemist

    What is it with White women wanting to touch a Black person’s head? (Insert phallic joke here…)

  • http://www.cocoareport.com Cocoa

    I agree. I think it is rude for someone to touch your hair especially when they know that their hands are not clean. I could be a little understanding if we were engaged in a conversation about hair and then the person asked and waited for a response. People should not feel guilty for saying no and people should get offended for someone saying no you cannot touch my hair.

  • Princess P

    As a new natural with lots of curls, I had one of my white coworkers touch my hair (w/o permission) so she could see how her curly hair was compared to mines.

    And then I had my little sticky, dirty hand students want to play in my hair cause it’s “sooo springy”.

  • http://afrikanmami.blogspot.com African Mami

    From a natural sistah to another, stop the madness! The girl was simply fascinated by your hair! I am a natural sistah, and I do get afromesmirized by others natural tresses, too. Every time I wear out my hair in an afro, somebody is going to ask to touch it. Touching is not just a white girl’s domain, I’ve gotten requests from brothas, other natural sistas, just about everybody. Our hair texture is FUNKY-I love that word she used! There is something very unique about it. You ain’t going to find other women stumped as to what to do at 3:00a.m. in the morn having a conversation with God about why He saw it fit to give her steel wiry textured hurr, that ain’t softening up even after applying some mango concoction that I could have sworn was supposed to make it baby buttock soft——–>African Mami

    This is a classic case of much ado about nothing! Ain’t no need for goin gansta. I don’t want to wear my hair as a hoodie because somebody felt you came at them wrong!!!!! Girrrrrrl….it ain’t dat serious!.

  • Cyndi

    What’s wrong with saying “keep your hands to yourself”? Their momma should have taught them that.

    I’m a white girl (like it matters /sarcasm) and some people are just very texture oriented. They will rub up on anything just to see what it feels like… like the world is their own Pat the Bunny book. I had an older black gentleman stroke my hair and back like a puppy while we were in line at a store. *shrugs*

  • CurlySue

    I’m always amazed at some people’s presumption to touch others. I’ve had women I barely know grab my breasts like it’s all good cuz they’re women. I usually just laugh uncomfortably. What I really want to do is snatch my t*ts out of their pawing hands and tell them to keep their booby-lovin’ mitts to themselves.

  • Jess

    Personally I think it’s a violation of personal space to make physical contact without permission. There is an implied intimacy with any kind of contact–hair touching included. Her presumption that it was indeed fine to touch without permission is definitely a sign of arrogance as well as ignorance.

  • Ashley

    Alas…this happens every time i leave my apartment….

  • Thereluctantsocialite

    “but when somene says their hair is normal -i applaud you- i dont blame you for that response”

    Yeah… I think this comment was what would have thrown me off. Although I’m sure she didn’t mean any real harm by it… but I’m glad you corrected her.

    People always want to touch my hair too. Depending on the mood that I’m in, sometimes I let them… sometimes I don’t. I understand that people find natural hair facinating, and I’m pretty easy going, so it doesn’t bother me that much. I have other black people ask about my natural more than white people, though.

    I do hate when people don’t ask to touch my hair first. I don’t think some people understand how creepy they’re being when they just start playing with your hair without permission…lol.

  • omfg

    i draw the line at black women. black women are the only ones allowed to touch my hair. i was once talking about hair to another natural black woman and she asked to touch mine. i didn’t mind. we were on the street touching each others’ hair. it was a strange bonding moment.

    everybody else can suck it. and i dare them to get an attitude with me for not allowing them in my personal space. lol.

  • http://afrikanmami.blogspot.com African Mami

    looool@ strange bonding moment. I call it a great networking moment. You might just be touching the tresses of Michelle Obama’s PA! I’m just saying.

  • Falis

    I’m sorry, but if I have to constantly remind you that I am not some zoo animal that you can touch at your pleasure, than there is something wrong with YOU. I will harbour no guilt for telling you to fuck off.

    Although I have experienced this with white women and some non-black women of colour, I have this problem primarily with white men. They are always curious about my hair and its contradicting qualities, e.g. a variety of different textured/styled curls at once, or the contrast of straightened bangs w curls. In my final year of high school, a white guy who sat behind me in class was so enthralled by the “versatility” of my hair that he decided to yank my pony tale after asserting that there’s no way my hair could be “real”. I spun around so fast and burned him with a backhand his momma could feel. It usually takes a lot to make me angry/react violently, but his continuous lack of regard for my personal integrity just infuriated me. Like, did he really think that was okay? After a moment of silence/shock within the classroom, I said, loudly & without hesitation, NEVER PUT YOUR HANDS ON ME AGAIN. AND DON’T YOU EVER (emphasis on this) TOUCH A BLACK WOMAN’S HAIR LIKE SHE’S SOME FUCKING ANIMAL. I turned around, making sure I whipped the hurr, and dared my teacher to say something.

    Now, almost 3 years later, I still deal with folks trying to touch my hair, mostly without permission, especially upon meeting me for the first time.
    C’mon, son. You’re a grown ass man, don’t be touching my hair as if it’s the third grade & you’re amazed at how I got beads on my braids.

    At least women ask me if they can touch. You can shut that shit down quick if they have that much decency.

  • F78

    Thank You, Thembi.
    I don’t run around sticking my hands in everyone else’s hair.
    I am not a Chia Pet.
    I remain convinced that such behavior is the product of a poor upbringing which has apparently failed to teach people personal boundaries and a respectful amount of “normal” conduct.
    No, it isn’t my job in this ‘colorblind, post-racial society’ to teach you the social skills that won’t have you groping random strangers’ heads at will. Aren’t you supposed to have that already, since we’re all alike?
    Seriously. There have been VOLUMES written about the ways in which mainstream of America “consumes” the bodies of Black women. This is textbook “Othering” (Said) 101.
    Enough said.

  • kidole

    I don’t like anyone to touch my hair unless you are my man or we have the same last name! It’s annoying, when I was a teen, one my girl cousins actually pulled a few strands of my relaxed hair follicle out of my scalp to see if it was real. Now that I’m natural, I instinctively “do the duck” when I sense hands coming near!

  • I got sense!

    I agree. Making mountains out of ant hills.

  • Brittany

    Girl bye- it’s just as wack for you to think you can tell her how to feel. It’s awesome that you don’t get phased by this sort of behavior, but people who are fed up have every right to feel the way they do, just like you have every right to not care about it and not feel like it’s a big deal.

  • Brittany

    THANK YOU. You’ve said everything I always feel about this. It gets tiresome.

  • http://afrikanmami.blogspot.com African Mami

    @ Brittany,

    This is a place to opine as you wish, so BYE is a very useless tactic!

  • Ashley

    I had an uncle pull out some follicles of my natural hair, after he claimed i needed it straightened…not a good look, as i now have distinctively short patch in my afro. The duck is my best friend. Trust no one.

  • Sath

    Yep. I’ve had a couple of people ask (and sometimes ask after they’re already wrist deep in my afro), but a lot of the time they just plunge in.

  • http://www.jessicasimien.com Jessica

    People ask to touch my hair all the time and it really doesn’t bother me. The only thing that probably annoys me is when they say “oh its so soft!” Um…how did you think it would feel?

  • S.

    I think it’s a difference in personality

    I, personally, have never and will never act this way when someone touches my hair (or scalp, yes it has happened)

    I am more or less gonna act like Esperanza Spalding, very gently (and awkwardly) laugh it off or explain to them why touching my hair (and hair like it) is inconsiderable

    Sometimes, it’s really not that serious. I never took it as a racial ‘thing’ (probably because i remember touching a biracial-thought she was white-girl’s curls w/o asking when i was younger so i can empathize with their innocent curiosity)

    I mean, what’s the worst that can happen? They put their dirty hands in your hair? So what

    You can’t get sick from slightly dirty hair. We naturals are washing our hair anyways

    But i feel that Black women should be able to have their own personal opinion on this subject because we are individuals. We shouldn’t feel like we ‘just have to’ come to a group conclusion on whether it’s rude or not

  • Brittany

    And I imagine that “stop the madness” could be perceived as an equally useless tactic. Just giving the perspective that these sorts of reactions (i.e. “it’s not that serious,” “calm down,” “relax”) can be just as frustrating as the actual situation, and can serve to, in a way “de-power” women who choose to feel or think a certain way. Since we’re opining and all. Lol.

  • Angie

    There is a guy here at work who comments every chance he gets on my locs. Today he finally got up the nerves to ask if he could run his fingers through them. I just laughed in his face and walked away. Uhn-uhn…he will not be touchin the locs…

  • TheBestAnonEver, Part 2

    I don’t feel any guilt or annoyance when I say no. I am a germaphobe, I don’t want anyone’s hands in my hair. I quickly tell people “nope, I don’t know what your hygiene practices are like”. No one spends too much time arguing with that comment because they don’t want to be questioned on it.

    I have never had anyone try to touch my hair without permission, ever.

  • Zaza

    Very strange thing,I wouldn’t never do it to some else, other than maybe family members. Have some people not heard of ‘look with your eyes!?’

    I can understand being intrigued by hair different to yours, but when I see a white woman with eyecatching waves, or a black woman with beautiful dreads, it’s more than enough to admire with my eyes! I have no interest in touching some random persons hair, eugh!

  • TheBestAnonEver, Part 2

    Mami: I agree with you on a lot, but not this. Every woman is entitled to make mountains out of molehills when it comes to her body and what she would or would not let anyone have access to. Nobody should feel obligated to let her anyone touch her hair, arms, toes, whatever, nor should we try to demonize women that chose not to have someone in her space.

    This woman decided natural hair is not normal. Well, it is normal to Thembi, I or any other woman that has textured hair growing out of her head. That this woman decided only her definition of normal was enough to demand to put her hand in Thembi’s hair is insulting. I think Thembi handled it well. I usually screech no, while exclaiming I am a germaphobe and don’t want anyone’s hands I don’t know in my hair. Their feelings be damned.

  • http://afrikanmami.blogspot.com African Mami

    @ Brittany,

    You my dear WIN! I extend an olive branch….I ain’t going to get catty over hurr!

  • http://afrikanmami.blogspot.com African Mami

    @ my sistoo oo,

    It was the tone that irked me….As you are a germaphobe, I am a toneaphobe!!!! But I hear you ma, I really does!

  • Nnaattaayy

    Lol heck naw Falis u are too gangsta! I can’t believe your prof said anything though. I wish i was that bad azz!

  • O’Phylia

    I never had strangers idioticly try to touch my hair, but either way, I NEVER feel guilty for saying no. Leave me alone. Period.

  • Aroc

    there is a level of intimacy a person has to reach with me before they are allowed to touch my hair in a non-professional capacity.
    That level is: we are having or about to have some sex.
    that is non negotiable, and I have told people that with a straight face

  • Leelee

    I wonder how a white person would react to me if I went up to them and asked to touch their hair, or worse just did it without asking. After all, their hair is different than mine…Just saying.

  • chelsea

    I have to say that this blog is wonderful and perfect. All of my life people have been asking me that question…The worst years were in college where there were very few students on color, people would literally touch my hair with out asking. It still get the question at times in the work place.

  • chelsea

    Ocean Breezy- people have done that to me too!

  • Samantha

    I always have people trying to touch my hair! I had one woman who pulled my hair although she claimed it was an accident…she told me she was lying when she said later…I just had to see if it was real! That was the last time I said I would explain to anybody anything with regards to my hair. If I say you can’t touch it then don’t touch it!

  • mamareese

    Um no! I was in an African braid shop with my aunt and this heifa asked me if my hair was real. I told her yes (its big so get that alot no harm) next thing I know she was literally tugging my hair. So I grabbed her wrist and was like NO I DONT LET FOLKS PLAY IN MY HAIR!!! You could scratch my scalp with your dirty fingernails and give ME something. She looked all shocked…but I’m like take my word…it’s real. WTF!!!! NO I didn’t feel guilty….but the judge woulda found me guilty of assault for this heifa messing with me. Made me mad….shoo!!!!

  • Ocean Breezy

    “I’m always amazed at some people’s presumption to touch others.”

    I am as well. A few years back, it became very popular for men to put their hands on the waist of a woman to move her out of the way instead of saying “excuse me”.

  • jazzyphile

    Husbands can’t even touch a Black woman’s hair.

  • Guest

    Literally fell off my chair laughing!! i swear, i imagined you grabbing a literal heifer by its horn and yelling at her. Don’t let them touch your hair girl.

  • binks

    I do Not get the hair touching thing. Like people we are not on display and this surely hell isn’t a petting zoo so keep your hands to yourself. Usually I get the hair touching from older people who think I am going to let them slide because they are older than me…um no. I don’t know about anyone else but I grew up with the saying “don’t let nobody play in your hair” from my mom,aunts, grandmothers and other southern women so nobody plays or touches my hair unless I give the okay. For me it’s a personal space issue

  • Blasé

    i’ve always been protective of my head. when i was a kid, during the relaxer times (don’t miss that torture) touching my hair would earn you the meanest look i had and i’d avoid you forever.

    and then i just found patting on the head extremely patronising – taller people and adults this is you *side eye*. i still find it patronising.

    but also touching hair dirties and damages ones hair. i’ve natural for twelve years and my hair is deeply personal, not in that ‘hair is your crown kind of way but in more spiritual way i’ve yet to find a awy to articulate.

    so stay away from my ‘fro and head. i’m not an attraction at the petting zoo dammit!

    the only time anyone can touch my head is during an intimate moment on my way to an orgasm.

    and let me just say how vexed that photo of Justine touching Esperanza’s ‘fro is getting me. ooh!

  • Blasé

    *high-five*

    ps: Esperanza looks like she’s thinkg, “little girl, stop touching my hair.”

  • No

    What the hell? On what planet do people think that’s cool? Where were you at when this happened? That’s a type of sexual assault regardless of the sex. I would hurt somebody for that.

  • ChickenHead

    I mean it’s really not that big of a deal to me…….shrugs……

  • Ocean Breezy

    It’s happened to me, and I have seen it happen to other women.

  • Ocean Breezy

    *Its

  • jrmint

    @Blase….I think that little girl is justin beiber?? LOL i think

  • Okay

    And the part where she described her hair as normal as opposed to the authors?

  • DCWonda

    True.

  • EbonyLolita

    Thembi don’t feel guilty. You should feel proud. You nor anyone else is a sideshow animal. You are not on exhibit to teach someone how AA hair feels.

    I tell folks I’m not the Ambassador for Blackness so Keep ya rass hands to yaself. In some states that’s considered battery. When women ask to touch my hair I BOLDLY ask if I can touch their breast. When they open their mouth shocked I tell them exactly now imagine your face to my feelings & walk off. I don’t feel any shame, why should I. My hair IS an extension of my body & I just as you did have the right to tell ANYBODY “Don’t touch me!”

    Whites are always curious about us, but then don’t want to respect us fully. GTFOH!!!
    Sistas normally complement me on my hair or give me the secret High5 look, which I understand and I won’t let them touch my hair. I’ll accept compliments from other races but you’re not putting your hands on or over me. I don’t play those type of games.

    Girl exercise your right to say NO and NEVER feel guilty about it !PopStyle!

  • http://afrikanmami.blogspot.com African Mami

    ooooowi! cottamn!!!!! if we ever meet in real life, please introduce yourself as Falis, so that I best know that your hair is NEVER to be appreciated…..

  • DCWonda

    True again.

    Sixteen years natural (no hot-comb and flat iron b.s., either) and can testify: It ain’t that serious.

    Humans are naturally curious when they encounter new or different stimuli. Your nappy hair is no exception.

    Alas, applications of the angry-ass negro response are subjective.

  • Velma

    …your hair is not the only thing he is “trying to touch”. lol. He’s interested…but I’m sure you know that already, right?

  • Zahra

    AMEN! Was about to say the same…what’s the big deal? It’s just hair. But to play devil’s advocate, I guess I can force an understanding. Woolly hair and genuine locs (not matted hair created using goop) are exclusive to just one group of people, so when you see it, you may be tempted to touch. Still, DON’T TOUCH MY HAIR! ;)

  • Leo the Yardie Chick

    Thank you! I am not a petting zoo bunny. Unless your my hairdresser, my mother, my partner, or ME, keep those hands at your sides at all times.

    Seriously, am I the only one who got the “don’t play in people’s hair” commandment from their mother back in nursery school days?

  • Falis

    Nnaattaayy, lol, everyone has a breaking point, hun! I surprised a lot of ppl that day, including myself, haha. I’m sure your inner bad ass is in there somewhere. :p

    African Mami, lol, believe me, I have no problem with my hair being appreciated. I’m very proud of it. However, when I am being fetishized and/or reduced to my fro, without regard for my boundaries, then, I am known to give a side eye or two. It all has to do with context.The fact that I don’t entertain folks who feel they have the power to explore “what makes me different” at their will, doesn’t negate the I also enjoy having genuine conversations about hair, beauty, care with other women (not just black women) or that i can’t appreciate a compliment. The key is respect.

    Leo, i agree with your sentiments. I generally avoided hair discussions growing up, because they often lead to pointing out that my frizzy, or should I say, funky hair was abnormal/ugly/shameful compared to the long, golden tresses of my classmates. I could do without the “othering” for a change, lol. Petting zoo=opposite direction folks.

  • Locust

    I would say sure and let you do it. Just like I’ve done for all the girls and guys that have wanted to touch my hair (black, white, and hispanic). My hair is one of my best features, and I love it when people appreciate it.

  • http://www.facebook.com/naturalisme natural.is.me

    It depends on my mood. I don’t like when people thrust their hands into my hair. I ask them if it’s ok if I touch their boobies or stick my finger in their ear and then make a motion and they usually understand how annoying/invasive that can be. I don’t mind if someone is talking to me about being natural and it’s a serious, decent, non “but it’s nappy” conversation and they ask to touch my hair.

    I never feel guilty to tell someone don’t touch me.

  • TheBestAnonEver, Part 2

    I don’t really care because I have never wanted to touch anyone else’s hair. I don’t trust most people’s hygiene habits and feel grossed out if some flips their hair and it in anyway touches my clothes or my body. I just need to go home and shower.

  • grateful

    thank you S.

    itt’s not that big of a deal to some of us.

  • MAREE ROGERS

    I can’t believe anglos are still doing this foolishness. We are still the most fascinating humans on earth to them. I going to start asking them if they have extensions or a weave? This is going to be hilarious!!!

  • au napptural

    This comment is perfection. It is the sum of history and the fact I’m a germaphobe that makes hair touching an absolute hell no for me. White ppl will try you, I have to testify. Just duck and grab. Like the OP, I’m not hosting a damn school. If you don’t understand why it’s not cool to put your hands on a stranger, I don’t have time to explain it to you.

  • Tni LeBlanc

    All I can say is Amen…

    It is very similar to being treated like a zoo animal, and it is insulting. Black hair didn’t just arrive in America. Kinky hair has been here since the 1600′s

    And human being to human being, I do not ever recall asking anyone if I could touch their hair. Despite the fact that almost everyone in my family’s hair is kinky, I manage to resist the temptation to ask straight haired people if I can touch their hair!

    Unless you are 5 years old or 105 years old, be prepared to be met with attitude!

  • Daria

    I generally look unapproachable, so this is not so much a problem for me as for some but I have been asked this. I have long locs now, but back in my 20′s when I rocked a bleached blonde buzzcut (before Amber Rose, I swear! lol), people always wanted to pet me. I’m a sweet, goofy woman that probably wouldn’t mind people I’m on a first name basis with, touching my hair but, like I said, people are usually too intimidated to even stretch that hand out and touch without permission.

  • Candy 1

    I don’t want anyone touching my hair. When my hair is loose (not braided or in an updo/bun/ponytail), I don’t even like for my husband to touch it too much (but he can ’cause that’s my baby). I’ve had women at church run their fingers through my hair and next to having my body parts groped it is the most uncomfortable feeling ever.

    A stranger touching my hair is as uncomfortable, unsanitary, rude, and annoying as it would be for them to stroke my face because they liked my clear complexion or skin color.

  • Angie

    @ Velma……yeah girl….he’s the company perv…harmless but still a perv.

  • http://anorexicescapades.com bougiehippie

    LOL! I think ppl like touching interesting things. I like to touch kinky hair and straight hair when its intriguing like cute animals at the zoo…ok bad example but you know what i mean. take it as a compliment you did spend all day and a lot of money trying to get it to look decent so ppl would notice.

  • Alexandra

    That’s hilarious! Why did she feel so eager to touch, she was going to feel your hair anyway? Haha. It’s a hygiene thing for me. Some people don’t clean their nails at all icckk!

  • Alexandra

    And that’s why I always pin my hair back. I don’t like any random person (even family) touching my hair, Black, Indian, White, whatever.
    A lot of people just like looking at big hair. It’s not common, so I understand the curiosity.
    I myself have felt the urge, but never actually touched a strangers hair. I was on the train one day standing near a woman, whose tracks were showing. Every time I looked at her hair, I just felt like reaching over to cover the track with her natural hair lol! I became annoyed just looking at her exposed track, but I never touched her or said anything. Everyone should just keep their hands to themselves.

  • TheBestAnonEver, Part 2

    I spend a few minutes in the morning, conditioner from the drugstore, and oils from the grocery store to keep it healthy for me. It is not for anyone else to touch or notice it.

  • Blasé

    @jrmint. yes. lol

  • HowApropos…

    The only person I want touching my hair is my hubby, because he loves it. He loves to smell it after I do my regimen and once I take the twists out, he just loves to run his fingers through it to help separate the twists.

    It’s an intimacy thing with me, so I’m confused as to why some women are saying they don’t want their own men touching their hair.

    You’re missing out…

  • Justina

    I have been asked questions about my hair since I was 6 years old. It is not my job to educate anyone and I will no longer be forced to play teacher to white folks about black hair. In the past I was subjected to unwanted touching,and pulling of my hair. I have always had a lot of hair that people suspected wasn’t real. I remember an incident at work a couple of years ago when a co-worker complained to the boss that I wouldn’t allow her to touch my hair. My former boss then came into the office demanding to touch my hair. Both of these ladies are white. They surrounded me and kept pestering me to allow them to cop a feel of my hair and didn’t understand my anger or my refusal to let them do so. These days if someone is really insistent about trying to touch my hair I let them know very seriously that if they do so, after I have already told them no then I will have no alternative but to call the police. After all, anyone who puts their hands on you without your express consent is in fact committing battery.

    A battery is any physical contact with another person, to which that person has not consented.

  • QueenaSheba

    Don’t u have a Huster mag to spank to?

    Random ramblings like yours can be a waste to read.

  • http://pervertedalchemist.blogspot.com Perverted Alchemist

    Not nearly as stupid as you responding to it- now go somewhere and kill yourself. The world will be a better place without you!

  • kellie

    i’m white and grew up in a predominantly black neighborhood. i’ve never asked (or even thought to ask) to touch another person’s hair. it’s rude and ignorant. when i was young, though, some of the girls i went to school with would ask to touch and play with my hair. i didn’t understand why until i was older

  • LuvIt289

    Nobody should feel comfortable to touch ur hair w/out ur consent.
    Its up to us to set the standard. Screw what they think!

  • Come On people

    I am so over this subject.

  • Dee

    Oh my goodness. I thought I dictated this article. I have long locks (grown from long twists, grown from an afro, grown from a short fade). I work in a service profession and the number of times I have had to address this same issue is mind-boggling. Thank you for describing the situation in reference to a stuffed animal as my analogy of a stranger violating my personal space seems to be too difficult for the offender to comprehend.

  • http://guulo.wordpress.com Guulo

    I throughly enjoyed reading this article and chuckled at times, vivid descriptions. And some of the comments were similarly enjoyable! I agree with the consensus, patronizing indeed.

  • Candy 1

    Because some of us (like myself) are vain and don’t want a whole three hours worth of work to get all messed up. Despite me feeling that like, I still let him touch it because I also like to think that nothing on my body is off limits to him. So I suck it up. Besides, he usually only touches it at night in bed, anyway.

  • http://www.design-cupboard.com Erika

    Yeah, I think the fascination goes both ways. I’m biracial and my curly hair is super prone to frizz, especially after massive touching, so I try not to touch my hair a lot myself. I think it’s preposterous that someone would feel entitled to touch any part of another person without their permission, even their hair. At the same time though, I remember loving running my hand over my Mexican ex-boyfriend’s hair after he’d get a buzz cut and it was all short and prickly. However, it’s obviously a little different when you’re that close with someone, as opposed to a perfect stranger.

  • maria

    As long as no one grabs my hair or touches it without my consent, I don’t mind “playing teacher” to those who don’t understand black hair. I think their curiosity is purely innocent and shouldn’t be taken to an insult. Like in the new Karate Kid movie where all the little Chinese kids want to feel Taraji’s hair. They weren’t trying to offend her, they were just really curious. People ask, I explain, they learn. No harm done.

  • Tracey

    I was about to get mad at you until the “normal hair” comment. Never feel you have to explain for NOT letting someone invade your personal space. Hopefully it was still a teachable moment for her – at least open up a dialoge with someone before you try to lay hands on them!! Let’s face it – we’re all curious about most things/people/places we didn’t grow up with. But act like a grown up, civilized human – ask before you touch!!

  • LaVidaLoca

    Honestly, I don’t see what the big deal is (as long as they ask). They don’t want to touch my hair because I’m black; they want to touch my hair because it’s different! A girl in my third grade class had thick, straight hair that went down to her calves and everyone loved playing in it – me included.

    It’s just natural curiosity to want to touch or study something that you find unusual. Give it a few more years for naturals to be a more common sight, and the number of people asking to touch your hair will surely go down.

  • Irfan

    It’s about time there was a decent response. We are all different. Very tall people are asked “what’s the weather like up there?” stupid I know but not all people are PC. People with fine cars are asked if they can touch it. People with fine houses are asked if they could have a tour. If you have something different or “not normal”, people look, and may be interested (what is normal? “normal is what everyone else is and you are not” from a Star Trek movie). My kids look at yellow VWs, my daughter stares at Red Jeep Wranglers. If everyone had an afro then the people with straight hair would be asked the same questions. Get over it. And why not be a teacher? You were given a gift of great hair, be a little greatful!

  • Ms. Information

    Be greatful that some white person is interested in my hair texture…lol..please…If I see white women with beautiful hair, I dont ask to touch it…that is what 5 year olds do. I compliment like a normal person does.

  • http://www.chicnoirhouse.blogspot.com chic noir

    justina I remember an incident at work a couple of years ago when a co-worker complained to the boss that I wouldn’t allow her to touch my hair. My former boss then came into the office demanding to touch my hair. Both of these ladies are white. They surrounded me and kept pestering me to allow them to cop a feel of my hair and didn’t understand my anger or my refusal to let them do so.

    What??? This is just downright awful. I can’t believe people behave this way in 2012.

  • So Over This Ish

    @ Justina…I feel you because I’ve had the same experiences.

    @ chic noir…girl, if this has never happened to you, count yourself lucky! I’m not surprised that this happens. It will continue to happen as long as ignorance remains in this world.

  • So Over This Ish

    Maybe I’m more cynical than you, Maria, but I believe that most of the so-called “curiosity” is not innocent.

    It sounds like your experiences with this have been more positive, though. I don’t mind talking to people about my hair as long as they aren’t disrespectful about it.

  • So Over This Ish

    @lrfan…there is a difference between being curious/admiring what somebody else has and being disrespectful about it.

    My husband is 6’4″ and no one says anything negative about his height. Hell no, I will not be “grateful” that people feel they can make insulting remarks about my hair or touch it without my consent!

    Yes, we all have differences and this should be acknowledged. But it should be acknowledged without making another person feel hurt or belittled. That isn’t being PC…it’s about being a decent person and respecting the feelings/personal space of others.

    People should learn to keep their hands to themselves, period.

  • So Over This Ish

    I love how you put this, Ebony! LMAO @ “keep yuh rass hands to yaself”. Lawd have mercy! You must be Jamaican…sound just like my mum when she gets mad.

  • So Over This Ish

    Word!

  • So Over This Ish

    “I ask them if it’s OK to touch their boobies or stick my finger in their ear”…I am weak! My sides are hurting from laughter!

  • So Over This Ish

    You had WOMEN try to feel on your titties?! Lawd have mercy. I was traumatized when a drunk white woman slapped my butt at a casino.

  • Moné

    Ur the only one that makes since.. TAKE THE STICK OUTTA UR ASS and take it as a compliment.. A real beautiful women takes looks and remarks as a COMPLIMENT

  • derekyardon

    so i realize this thread is old…really old… but i am reading it for the first time. I am a white girl, with dark red, auburn hair. I have had this hair all of my life, and can i just tell you, if I had a nickle…. :) I am constantly being pet by little old ladies and strange men alike. I have accepted that my hair color is different, and when people ask me (as they always do) “is that your natural color?” and I say “yes” they just HAVE TO touch it. As if you could tell if I was lying by feel alone… hahahaha… But yes, it can really *&%$ a gal off, if you are in no frame of mind to be pet. (which I rarely am, as I am a 31year old mama who gets pet way too much) It is a matter of personal space, and being a victim of “space invaders” my whole life, the only thing I can do is not become one myself. I can honestly say I have NEVER pet a stranger in my life. Cause that is just weird. And now-a-days, they pet my daughter…. I am more strongly vocal in this case. My baby girl is black and apparently, her lil’ fro is even more magnetic than my red head. I have put up with the petting for 31years, but I’ll be damned if stangers are gonna touch my baby… and when they do sneak in there…. I am sure to let them know… not cool, she’s a baby, you ARE dirty and covered in germs, why do you think you need to touch her? GRRRR, I totally get it, MANNERS PEOPLE!!

  • Antwinette

    As long as they don’t touch without consent, it is okay. My sisters touch it because, well, they are my sisters. Even 2nd cousins do not get that privilege. My friend from China asked to touch my hair before and I let her. This was years ago and she said “Oh! It’s so soft!”. She said that she and other Chinese assumed that it felt scratchy like brillo. Another of her friends, also from China, just stared at my fro and he softly exclaimed “It is so beautiful!”. That was news to me because I’d had my fro for about 8 months and I kept hearing from my mom and my brother that it just didn’t look right. LOL

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