Hair touching : the silent insult or compliment

How many times have you been asked by a stranger to touch your hair or let them see what it feels like?

How did that make you feel?

Today as I was shopping, the family ahead of me in line was faced with that question.
The customer behind me asked,” may, I touch your daughter’s hair, I just want to see what it feels like.”

The mother:”what does it suppose to feel like”

The customer: “Oh it’s soft, even though, it looks woolly.”

The mother:”You can’t always assume by looking.”

The child: “Mommie, why did she say my hair looks like wool.”

The mother: “Because she’s a profiler, a person that has jaded view of your hair.”

The family was bi-racial, the customer was Caucasian. Just by hair touching, imagine the perception that may have been embedded in the child’s mind. Which may, as she gets older lead her to chemically straightening her hair because she once heard it was woolly. The term woolly means resembling to wool, lack of order,or hard to restrain. A better term would be kinky. Kinky hair is hair that grows in zigzag patterns that interlock strands directly from the scalp. As people we have to be mindful of our choice of words, that may discourage children.

I can remember three years ago, a co-worker of mine, asked if she could feel my hair because it looked soft. After she touched it she said,”it doesn’t look like black people’s hair.” So,I asked what does black people hair look like. She said,”you know, woolly, knotty looking.” I replied, if I didn’t relax mine it would probably look the same way too.

I immediately felt insulted, the more I thought about it. As that day went on, my view changed. No matter what texture a person’s hair is, there is beauty in it. It’s grown out of our bodies, which is a part of creation. I realized, some people’s perception of different ethnic group’s hair is distorted. Hair touching opens up a door for opportunity to appreciate your heritage or seek education to value it. It may also be a compliment as well.
In return I asked the co-worker, if I could feel her hair. She says,”so what does it feel like”. I told her, “hair”.
Imagine someone wanting to feel, smell, or touch something they don’t own.

Please ask before hair touching. Some may take it as an insult others as a compliment.

Treating Tresses