BY: SHAMSUL ALAM
Hair. It’s important to most women, but for some black women, hair, and the cultural rules around it can represent everything that is challenging about straddling two cultures and the competing beauty standards that come with them. For Black women, in particular, a hairstyle can often be viewed less as an aesthetic choice and more as a political one. They love their hair very much. If anyone wants to touch their hair, it will disturb them deeply. Why? Well, here are 12 reasons why you shouldn’t touch a black woman’s hair without her permission:
- The Objectification of Black Bodies
I have noticed that most people blame their blatant violation on the grounds of curiosity, a thing that naturally occurs in humans. To that I say, people should have self-control and understand personal space. It is like a child who throws a fit when you tell them they can’t have something that belongs to you. It was never theirs, to begin with, so why the anger?
- Eurocentric Beauty Standards
It’s not a secret that there are Eurocentric beauty standards. Thin noses, fair skin, slim bodies and colored eyes are all examples. Also, it’s not a secret that many black people do not meet all of them, this definitely includes hair. Black people are not portrayed in many forms of media often, although it appears to be improving as time moves forward, but all in all, our faces are scarce.
- It’s a Microaggression
While asking to touch hair may seem harmless, it’s also a form of dehumanization among black people and it ties into microaggressions. So, until my hair isn’t a spectacle, until it isn’t mocked or mimicked, until the hair that grows naturally out of my head is considered professional, no – you can’t touch it.
- It’s weird.
It just wants to let you know that it’s supremely irritating that they have to get pulled over for y’all to dig all up in her hair looking for weapons of mass destruction.
- I am not an exhibit in a zoo or freak show.
Did you know White America used to actually showcase black people in zoos and freakshows? It really wasn’t that long ago. Like, there are still Americans alive who were alive when the Bronx Zoo had a whole black people exhibit.
- They find their hair fascinating.
Black women are often “othered” in US society – like being treated as if we don’t exist in the media. It upset our efforts to simply exist without being treated like we’re uneasy. At the writing departure, for instance, I’d hoped for quiet self-analysis.
- You Want to Compliment me
You may think this is my favorite cause. Who wouldn’t want a compliment? This is strong because I thankful the good intentions – and then I feel bad for rejecting your compliment. Let me describe now so I don’t have to see your disappointment as you realize this is the wrong way to compliment them.
- You Wouldn’t Be Offended If Someone Touched Your Hair
If you treat others like you’d want to be treated, you should respect Black women’s boundaries like you’d want yours respected – even if their boundaries are different from yours.
- You Have No Idea How Often We Have to Deal With This
Black women deal with people touching our hair a lot. Now you know. Okay, there’s more to it than that: Black women deal with people touching our hair a hell of a lot.
- You Know Someone Else Who Didn’t Mind
Do you know a Black woman who doesn’t mind when people touch her hair? So do I! We all have a various first choice, and I don’t demand to be the authority on all Black women’s boundaries.
- You’re offended by the Idea of Not Being Able to Touch My Hair
Still, think it’s no biggie to ask? Let’s talk about those “issues” that might come up if I say “no.” Whenever I write about how white people can avoid being oppressive, some white people inevitably object to being told what they “can and can’t do.” You don’t want your freedom restricted, but in many matters, this reaction isn’t about independence. It’s about entitlement.
- Sorry, but all the rude people who came before you ruined it.
Basically, no matter how awesome and benign your reason for wanting to touch my hair or how nicely you ask, there have been literally hundreds of people before you who have been jerks about it. The random white girl who rolled up behind me while we were exiting an Econ seminar, plunged her hand into the back of my hair, and twisted it around while exclaiming to her friends “Ooooooo it feels just like cotton!” The woman in Beijing who grabbed a lock of my hair examined it and then asked me if it was even hair.
So follow these ways before touching a black women hair. Without her permission, it will land you into a world of trouble.