scr
Bun

It is an event that has boggled the natural hair woman all her life. Some sides call it offensive, others annoying, still others, curiosity. However, no matter how you feel about the topic, truth is that someone somewhere has crossed into your personal space to touch your hair.

A recent CNN report states that the experience is “a common tale shared by women of color whose natural hair can attract stares, curiosity, comments and the occasional stranger who desires to reach out and touch.”

The conversation that ensues from this common tale is often based on race relations, according to CNN. One side claims that the act of majority white strangers reaching across an unspoken boundary and invading personal space has roots in slavery.

Blogger Los Angelista comments on the subject in response to why her hair cannot be touched: “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.”

The other side of the argument, however, claims that there is no mal intention behind the act, but rather, that it's mere human curiosity.

Overall, the article claims that remnants of slavery-era thinking are what is causing the phenomena. The claim sparked conversation on the CurlTalk board.

User NEA wrote, “I would say natural, kinky-coily hair get more attention, as a WHOLE, than straight hair. That’s from white people and black people (and everybody else). Folks stare. Some of it is admiration, some not. But our natural hair commands attention.”

Furthermore, the article has generated intense response from users on the CNN site as well.

“I wish the author would not automatically jump to the conclusion that people who want to touch her hair harbor racist feelings,” writes coasteage77, a CNN user. “People are always curious about new and different things. Encouraging questions and dialogue is important so we can celebrate everyone’s differences!”

While the majority of the Internet is acknowledging that the CNN article’s claim is a little out there, argument lines are still clearly drawn.

“It is a boundary issue,” writes NEA. “The fact that folks feel like they can touch strangers, for any reason, without having permission to do so [is a boundary issue].”

On the other side, however, women of many hair types seem to experience some form of random hair touching.

“I remember this white girl with curly red hair in my class,” writes CurlTalk user makeasweet. “She was always complaining about people touching her hair. I don’t think it’s all about slavery and owning black women. It is all about what’s considered the ‘norm.’”

What are your thoughts on the fascination with natural hair? Join the conversation on CurlTalk and let us know.

0 Comments
I think it is primarily a non-racial issue. I am caucasian with very curly hair, and though I don't think a stranger has ever tried to touch my hair without permission, friends and acquaintances ask to touch my hair frequently. It doesn't usually bother me, although I do specify that they may not run their fingers through my hair, only tug gently on the curls, because even I know that it's fun when they spring back. I agree that people are generally just curious. I suppose in a few situations there may be a racial element there, but really, it's rude to touch someone without permission no matter what their race is. I don't think it's fair to make assumptions about people's intentions just because of their race, especially if they asked first. I'm sure many people are also just fascinated by the beauty of curly and kinky hair.
"I don’t think it’s all about slavery and owning black women. It is all about what’s considered the ‘norm." I agree. If you look at long hair forums you'll also find a lot of topics where people are complaining of random strangers touching and petting their hair. People often don't even realize they are actually touching your butt while doing so. As a kid with very blond hair I've often experienced strangers touching my hair unwanted when we were on holiday in countries where natural blond hair was very rare. Now that my hair is getting longer I'm experiencing it again because people aren't used to seeing such long hair. I get that it's annoying but I seriously doubt it's racially motivated in most cases. I'm not saying it never is, but for the majority of people it's just curiosity for something they don't see very often.
*sigh* Spiral Queen...I notice that your posts tend to be filled with accusations of racism towards people of color. I definitely sense hostility in the way you write on this subject. Clearly this is a sensitive issue with you. You don't seem to understand that the experiences of white people differ from the experiences of non-white people. Maybe you need to open a book and find ways to educate yourself on the history of Black people in the United States, as well as other parts of the world. The author was NOT racist to point out how the white woman's actions made her feel. Curiosity is no excuse for ignorance. I consider it very disrespectful for a stranger to touch me, especially my hair. That would be like somebody groping my boobs...not acceptable. Black women are not zoo animals to be petted by "curious" white people. We are human beings and our personal space should be respected. As a biracial person, I've had white people touch my hair without asking and they have made extremely offensive comments about it. Once again, curiosity is no excuse for ignorance and it doesn't give somebody a pass to be inappropriate. That stems from white privilege and a sense of entitlement. I have always admired the beauty of other people, whether it be their hair or their skin or some other part...but I would never start playing in somebody's hair without permission.
I have always hated when people touched my hair without permission. Ever since I was little people of all types have thought of my hair as a play land for their fingers. I don't like people touching my things without permission so I damn sure don't appreciate people touching my hair without permission. You don't know where people's hands have been and their touching can make your hair frizzy.
I agree with all of those who said it's sparked from a place of curiosity. When I went to India, I had zillions/micros/whatever you want to call them, and the Indian women were soo fascinated with my hair that they wanted to touch and see it. Shoot, I've wanted to touch some non-black people's hair just because it was soo different to me.
I agree with kjc23! Africa is not a country but a continent; a continent full of people with so many different textures of hair, it's crazy. Yeah, I've had people try to reach out and touch my hair(of both my own and other races and ethnicities), and I step back. While some(stress SOME), may have prejudicial or racist intentions, the great majority of people are curious about something they have no experience. And, by the way, there are plenty of "non-African" ethnicities that have kinky, curly, dare I say, "nappy" hair! Italian, Eastern European, Middle Eastern, Latino, the Jewish, Brazilian..the list goes on. While it may be 'positive race relations' that bring about those impulses to touch hair, common courtesy and manners call for questions and asking to touch rather than just reaching out and copping a feel of my hair.
I really wish people stopping saying "Africa" as if it were a country.
I am a 3C and often have people touch my hair. Not because I'm black, but because my hair is different.
This article is so freaking racist. Not towards blacks. TOWARDS EUROPEANS. You assume Europeans feel superior to Africans JUST BECAUSE THEIR *LONG DEAD* ANCESTORS *MIGHT* HAVE BEEN SLAVE OWNERS? Do you freaking think just because someone's kin was a slave owner they are automatically evil monsters? WTF. Not only that, but it just screams that Europeans can't have kinky or super curly hair. Do you guys live under rocks? I know many, many people who are pure European with coarse, very curly locks. I also hear some girls have kinky hair as well. And I see plenty of Africans asking to touch European people's hair, so are they trying to turn Europeans into slaves? Idiots.
In my teens and 20's, I had Charlies Angels hair. I used hot rollers to get the curl I wanted, but because of natural body of my hair, I didn't need to use hair spray like straight hair needed to hold their style. So because my hair wasn't sprayed, I often had people ask to touch it. To be honest, unless I know someone pretty good, I don't want them touching my hair, but at least they asked politely. A few times men just touched it, and it made me mad. I'm Caucasian BTW. I can't say whether other caucasians touching ladies of color's hair is racist or not, but some people aren't as socially adept as others.
Ya, I agree that it's curiosity. Even when my hair was relaxed, people would touch it because it was really long. The longest it's been is a few inches above the top of my butt, and since most people assume I'm black, even though I'm technically just Hispanic (both of my parents are Panamanian, but I'm proud to say I'm both black and Hispanic (: ) with dark skin from my dad's side, they find it really unusual that my hair is really that long. Many random people have asked me if it's weave and I just laugh and say no it isn't....my point is, it's just curiosity about unusual hair. And if my hair grabs that much attention whether it was relaxed or in its natural curliness like it is now, I take it as a compliment, cause it's just that interesting.
Its hair!!!What is there to be curious about? I think its sicking and black women need to stop feeding into the nonsense.I would be appalled if someone wants to touch my hair out of curiousity. What do I look like a animal.
I'm black and I go to a historically black university. I've had students their ask to touch my hair on more that one occasion (always men). I agree that it's just curiosity. While I think it would be invasive for someone to just come up and start feeling my hair without saying anything, I don't mind if they ask.
Im African and I live in Africa. And people still ask to touch my hair. Other black people. Its simply a matter of curiosity as most people here get their hair relaxed before they have a chance to remember what their natural hair felt like.
I think it's curiosity. I have personally seen the same thing without it being a race issue. A white girl in my class had MASSIVELY curly hair and everybody always wanted to play with it and touch it. Or like the black girls' curiosity with the pretty little indian girls' hairs in high school because it was incredibly long and soft and shiny and straight but super-thick at the same time. And I have always been interested in everyone's hair out of curiosity. Why?? Because it's different from mine.

Social