This topic is spawned from a CNN feature I recently read about but this is really a commentary about a phenomenon I’ve seen for years. Black women tend to be standoffish about people touching our hair….why?
The above is simply a nice video on the natural movement and accepting ones features fully, the article that follows it can be seen here and discusses how uncomfortable most black women are with people touching their natural hair.
Here are two excerpts:
She missed by mere seconds, she was actually going to grab my hair as I walked past her,” recalled Winfrey Harris who runs the blog What Tami Said. “I turned around and she said, ‘Oh, your hair is neat.’ It just floored me because who does that, just reaches out and touches strangers?
Blogger Los Angelista explained her response to a woman’s incredulous “Are you serious, I can’t touch your hair?” by writing that no she couldn’t, “Because my black ancestors may have been your ancestors’ property, and had to smile while they got touched in ways they didn’t want to, but I am not YOUR property and never will be so you’d best move your hand away from me.
When it comes to this subject I definitely have first hand experience, big Afro hair can often be a spectacle and I have had my hair touched by strangers quite a few times. I know that the general consensus is typically to go off on a tirade on how horrible/annoying it is, however on this subject, I’ll just be the odd woman out as usual. I honestly don’t mind or care that much when people come up and touch my hair. I usually get a good laugh or a sweet compliment that adds a little pep to my step.
I will say one time that really caught me off guard was when I was sitting on the train on west 4th st, chillin rocking curly crochet extensions and this white young lady walks in, reaches right into my hair, bounces a curl and said “I just had to boing one!” I was shocked at first but then just had to laugh at it. Folks act like they had an out of body experience and had to touch.
I’ve noticed that often Black American’s tend to be standoffish about pretty much any kind of personal contact, even with their significant others, for a large portion of Black women, even their husbands are prohibited from touching their hair. Personally, I’ve always been pretty expressive and affectionate in general so its not jarring when someone wants to get near me or touch my hair. I also think this kind of reaction feeds into the “belligerent black woman with an attitude” stereotype.
Honestly I don’t mind it, and it doesn’t cause me to go off on soliloquies regarding the plight of my ancestors.