Get your Hands Off my Fro! Why you Absolutely, Positively Cannot Touch my Hair
Recently, I read an article on Twitter about a group of black women who organized an event in which they stood on the street and allowed strangers to touch their hair. Their purpose was to educate people about the diversity, texture and care of black hair. While I’m all for education, especially on topics where ignorance is prevalent, my immediate reaction was, “Oh, hell no! You can’t touch my fro.”
Now before you start making all those jokes about stereotypical black women and their hair issues, let me make them for you. I am the girl who spends hours dealing with her hair; I’m the girl who has far more products than she uses; and I’m the girl who will give you a piece of her mind if you put your hand in her hair uninvited. When it comes to my hair, I am the epitome of stereotypical black chick, and I’m not sorry. Here’s why.
I, like both my sisters, was born nearly bald. When I finally grew a little tuft in the middle of my head, my aunt used to knit it into the smallest braid known to mankind and put a bow on it. Then it started to grow like weeds and I had an unmanageable bush that meant hours of sitting between my mother’s legs, crying and asking, “Are you done yet?!” The answer always seemed to be no. So when my mother finally got tired of my tear-filled hair-styling sessions, she did what a lot of black women do: slapped a perm in it. I went from a puff ball to Rapunzel-like tresses, falling to my mid-back. And then, as is almost inevitable when you put relaxer in the head of a child too young to care her own hair, the damage came. So, the summer before my grade 9 year, we put a scissors to it. As if I weren’t already an ugly duckling, I was nearly bald. Life was…awkward.
Through high school, despite being natural, I was a pro with a flat iron and my hair was nearly always straight. Kinda defeats the purpose of going natural, no? So finally, I decided to embrace the fro. I put my straightener away and opted instead for blue dye, and bleach jobs, braid outs and bantu knots. I now have an afro that I know how to manage, with a personality of her own. So much personality, in fact, that people recognize my Lola (yes, that’s her name), even if they don’t recognize me.
Lola has been through so much and we’ve come a long way. From no hair to too much, from curly to straight, from bob cuts to Afros, my journey has been a long one and I’m fiercely protective of my mane. So, when a stranger wants to put her hands in my head, because she’s “curious,” my reaction will nearly always be negative. Not because I don’t appreciate the admiration – I welcome it, I am very proud of my Lola – but because my hair is a very important part of me and how I identify myself. It’s not “just hair.”
In the same way that you’re not welcome to touch my butt, you are most certainly not entitled to touch my kinks. Of course, hair is not sexualized in our society in the way that asses are, but to me, it is equally as intimate and personal.
I am always happy to answer questions that come from a place of sincere curiosity and legitimate ignorance, after all, black people are the only ones in the world with our wild kinks and coils. I think I’d be full of questions if I was on the other side. But you can’t touch my hair. It is mine. It is not some curio in the museum of life there for your perusal. It is not an inanimate, impersonal item that you can fondle to your heart’s content. My hair is my crown, my halo, my signature, my statement. So look, but don’t touch. I only ask nicely the first time.
Ladies (and gents), I’d love to hear your feelings on this topic. Feel free to reply in the comments.