A nuanced conversation about the biases against natural hair


#21

Wow! That is some beautiful hair.
Do you get people wanting to touch it? I would never ask, but I’d probably want to. It looks bouncy and soft.


#22

I know I wouldn’t want anyone touching my hair.


#23

By “I’d never ask” I meant, I wouldn’t ask to touch it and I certainly would never touch anyone’s anything (except for standing invites, like with spouse and daughter) without asking.


#24

I got that. I’m just amazed some people (apparently quite a few) do ask. It just seems so bizarre to me. I was just riffing of your comment, not suggesting you would ask.


#25

I got paranoid for a minute and wanted to be clear. I find it weird too, like when people ask to touch a pregnant woman’s stomach. That freaked me out. My husband or family asking, to feel the kid move, that is one thing. Almost stranger asking? Ick. I expect it is much the same when someone has fabulous hair that everyone wants to touch. I understand the desire to touch, I’m an extremely tactile person, but I do not understand actually doing anything about it.


#26

I’ve never understood the (particular) urge to want to touch people’s hair in the first place.
I can understand wanting to scratch or massage the head of a loved one, but to go around wanting to feel hair textures has always seemed kind of strange to me.

ETA: I’m reminded of a woman I dated in 2008, of mixed ancestry with kinky hair. She offered her hair for me to touch, and that moment just felt so awkward.


#27

I’ve been told “just never ask a woman if you can touch her hair. Especially if you don’t know her.”

It reminds me of a girl I knew who shaved her head; she told me that complete strangers were always asking to rub her scalp.


#28

Honestly, it varies from person to person.

Even within a specific ethnic group, everyone’s hair is different, with different qualities.

There are many people of African descent who don’t use shampoos as frequently as people of caucasian descent, because it does indeed strip the natural oils and moisture from the coils, and that can eventually cause permanent damage to the follicles.

Then there are others who choose to wash their hair daily, with no adverse effects.

ETA:

Thanks, but that’s not actually me; just a very close approximation of my own hair texture.

(I actually envy whatever conditioner homegirl is using because it’s clearly superior to mine.)

But to answer your question;

I rarely get asked by total strangers if they can touch my hair; my persona doesn’t invite casual intrusions into my personal space in general.

However I did once have a girl at a party just start touching my hair, as she “admired” it; and before I even had time to realize what she was doing, (let alone flash on her) my friend who I was with suddenly had her hands all in the girl’s hair… and the irony here is that my friend is White, and she caught and deflected the microaggression and unintentional disrespect before I could even say a word.

ETA2:

Thanks everyone, but again that’s not actually a picture of me; just very close to how my own hair is, minus a little bit of the volume.


#29

Still fantastic.


#30

It is probably better that people do ask, instead of just doing it anyway. If people want a culture of consent, IMO they can’t afford to be upset if people ask for it.

My head is shaven these days, but in my younger years I used to get way too many offers to mess with my hair. I was not usually offended. Sometimes an offer of braiding or a scalp massage was helpful.


#31

D’oh! But as @AcerPlatanoides has said, still fantastic hair.


#32

Totally; I was serious about wanting to know what products she uses.

#^_^


#33

I love it


#34

I’ve watched the vid finally, and OMG… Dascha Polanco’s from Orange Is the New Black hairstyle was so awesome; I had no idea that she was in this clip.

You have a strange sense of humor, then.

To me, it’s not funny; it’s a testament to how the beauty/fashion industry intentionally undermines the ‘average woman’s’ body image and actively chips away at her esteem in order to sell her more overpriced products (which don’t actually work) so that that she can “fix” herself.

Then when you add in the fact that people of color are marginalized and denigrated, that exacerbates the stigma that Black and Latina women get for wearing their hair naturally even more.

The bias is against any aesthetic that’s non-Eurocentric.


#35

Probably, as I have often been told so. But it does not mean I don’t care or don’t try to help when I can.


#36

LOL


#37

that sounds like a keeper.


#38

The salesfolks at those hair-tools kiosks in the mall have literally pounced on me and tried to drag me over to straighten my hair. Of course, they’re over there curling all the straight-haired ladies. I have 3A curls, but I’m suuuper white so my hair is really fine. When it’s straight I look like a drowned rat. The curls are the only thing that give me any volume.

There’s a fine line between “stringy” and “frizzy” for me.


#39

Yup; that’s a perfect example.

Loving yourself exactly the way you are is anathema to the cosmetic, hair and fashion industries; “We can’t have people having healthy self-esteem because then they won’t buy our products!”


#40

Minor off topic - I use the word amusing in an often unanticipated context too: Melpomene was one of the muses, after all.