Natural Hair: Touched by a ...stranger? (CNN)

Monday, July 25, 2011

This morning, CNN posted an article in their Living section titled, "'Can I touch it?' The fascination with natural, African American hair".  In this article author, Lisa Respers France touches upon the subject of Black women having thier hair touched and questioned because of its natural state. From something as simple as asking questions to something as invasive as reaching out and touching without permission, natural Black women deal with hair confusion and curiosity on a regular basis.

Many women chimed in on this discussion and while some women believe that that the questions and touching are completely inquisitive and out of curiosity, other women believe that the touching comes from the White community's feeling of supremacy and some lingering feelings of ownership, that they believe they have the right to touch a Black woman's hair. Some women are amused by these investigatory actions while some women are completely outraged feeling violated by such audacities.

So I bring it to you, natural hair community. Are you offended by the touching and question asking? Do you feel that the touching comes from a sense of ownership or a sense of curiosity? What are your thoughts?



  1. I honestly think it's all about curiosity. Some Caucasians come from a sheltered background so when they come across African Americans or someone of another race they become intrigued and want to not only ask hundreds of questions about our cultures, but they also want to touch our hair.

    I didn't mind it so much when I was a child, but as I got older and hit my late teens I was definitely over the whole, "Can I touch your hair?" thing.

    I also don't think that this issue is exclusive to Caucasians since I've had African Americans ask to touch my hair as well.

    Earlier this month I brushed up on this topic via my blog ChoKoLatNoir

    I'd like to know, Nik, how do you feel about people touching your hair?

  2. Honestly, I am with you on it being more of a curiosity thing. I think people are interested when they see something that is unique or different to them.

    Asking questions doesn't offend me. I jump at the chance to talk about my hair, lol ...and maybe even if someone asks to feel it, I might allow it once in awhile. But to just reach out and touch someone's hair, to me, is an extreme violation of their personal space. Even without any racial undertones, I think it's rude and disrespectful.

    I also agree that it's not exclusive to any race. Everyone does it. I usually dont mind so much if a close family member or friend does it but to an acquaintance or stranger, it's pretty much off limits.

  3. I agree with you on the "violation of personal space." If someone wants to touch my hair, they better ask first.

    Even I'm guilty of asking my friends if I can touch their hair (on rare occasions of course). My friend had braids made out of yarn once and I couldn't fight the urge to see how it felt (mainly because I'd never worn weave before and was fascinated by how many different ones were out there). She was more than happy to let me touch it and also gave me a full lesson on weaves, braids and extensions lol.

    But after that I never asked to touch another person's hair again. I was a little embarrassed to have asked such a question in the first place.