Since I’ve begun wearing my natural curly afro, I’ve had an overwhelming amount of requests from people who would like to touch my hair. Both friends and strangers of all ethnicities are completely fascinated with how it looks, how it feels, how it stays up, etc. I am equally fascinated, though there’s no mystery for me as naturally, it is growing out of my own head and I know the steps and care it takes to make it look the way it does. Sometimes the shock and awe is extremely flattering and other times, it is just plain weird.
CNN is discussing this phenomenon with touching natural hair in a piece named “‘Can I touch it?’ The fascination with natural, African-American hair” written by Lisa Respers France. In it, blogger Tamara Winfrey Harris of What Tami Said tells a story of how a middle-aged white woman reached out to touch her hair in a restaurant, which completely took her by surprise. Blogger Los Angelista also had a similar story in which a woman said: “Are you serious, I can’t touch your hair?”. Her response:
“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.”
Lisa goes on to discuss the idea of straight hair being thought of as easier to care for in the black community, as well as all the ways natural hair is described from curly to kinky to nappy.
Keneesha Hudson’s company Urbanbella is profiled, which helps women of color embrace and care for their natural hair texture. Keneesha has been natural since 2002, when she did the “big chop” like so many women with natural hair choose to do instead of growing their relaxers out slowly. She is still met with salon visitors who want to touch her hair to make sure it is real and not a weave, as well as those who want to touch it just out of curiosity.
“For the longest time we black women have been wearing our hair chemically straightened to a point where most of us really don’t know what our natural hair looks like. There’s a generation of us who have never even seen our hair in any form but straight except for baby pictures.” – Keneesha Hudson
Issa Rae of “The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl” believes that hair is a huge component of being black and I have to agree with her. Our beauty and bodies in general garner a lot of attention and always have. We are thought of as exotic and unique, from the hair on our heads, to our varied complexions, to our curves or lack thereof. Hair is an intrinsic component of femininity as well, thus we have another level of the curiosity factor as our hair comes in so many forms, especially when natural.
I am often now met with a hair pat or “Your hair is awesome” as opposed to the usual greetings I would get with straight hair, but I really am not bothered. I have gotten more shock and awe from black people (black men especially) than any other race. I think this speaks to the fact that even we as a people aren’t accustomed to seeing our own hair in its natural form. Everyday, the debate continues and hopefully it takes on a form of complete positivity. As long as those ignorant to the feel of natural hair maintain a healthy and kind approach, I guarantee this will only foster appreciation of it.
Visit www.cnn.com to read the entire article.
What do you think of CNN discussing the obsession with touching natural hair? What are your experiences with it?