Never Touch A Black Woman’s Hair…We Still Gotta Tell People This?

July 25, 2011  |  

CNN has an interesting story today about the fascination with touching a black woman’s hair; ironically (despite the perspective of a Black interview subject and a presumably black author), the article itself is almost as awkward as the actual encounters with curious White people with grabby hands. It’s as if someone tried to write “Natural Black Hair For Dummies”. Peep:

“Natural hair” for black women is, by definition, hair that is not processed and not chemically altered. Straightened hair is often viewed as easier to care for and more attractive. Rather than use chemical straighteners known as relaxers (also sometimes called “creamy crack” for both the damage it can do to black hair as well as the inability of some women to live without it) some women wear their hair in its natural state. Natural hair can be described as curly, kinky, wavy, or — the sometimes dreaded and considered by some to be an offensive word — nappy.

Sigh. Better to learn from a news site than by touching a woman’s mane, I suppose. The saving grace of the piece is a quote from Renee Martin of Womanist Musings, who was blasted by White readers for being “too sensitive” when she penned “Can I Touch Your Hair? Black Women and The Petting Zoo”. She explains that the audacity to touch a stranger’s hair has less to do with curiosity than one may want to believe:  “I think it’s the idea that they have the right to possess black women and they will take any excuse they can to jump over the border, whether it’s policing our behavior or policing our hair. I think it’s about ownership of black bodies more than it has to actually do with hair.”

Some of the most memorable horror stories I got from older girls who went to traditionally white colleges had to do with hair; specifically, the fascination and confusion that many of them faced from classmates who had never been around black women in an intimate setting before. The idea of explaining that my hair doesn’t have to be washed every day, that I don’t brush it ever and why it’s not the same texture as Black Girl X or Black Girl Y is about as appealing as plucking my eyelashes. My lack of interest in explaining anything about my Negritiude and being ‘the norm’ instead had much to do with my choice to attend Howard University; most of my girls who made different choices found themselves facing those very same dreaded questions we’d heard about.

I was not able to escape the curiosity altogether; while most of my White friends and colleagues throughout the years have been either too savvy, too disinterested or just too shy to ask a bunch of questions about my hair, I have garnered some of the most annoying compliments from white folks for as long as I can remember: “Your hair is awesome!” or “Your hair is so cool!” Not pretty, not beautiful or lovely, but “awesome”. Hell to the no. I am a woman, a stereotypical “girly girl” in many ways. My (now chopped) dreads and my curly bush were not radical, funky hairstyles. They were not novel, they were normal. For us, at least.

I am not surprised that many white folks find themselves baffled by black hair. For starters, since we are not plastered in magazines at nearly the same rate as straight haired white women, nor are we depicted in commercials performing our hair care rituals and we are largely absent from the books, films and television shows that they watch, there is simply a limited amount of exposure to our lifestyles. How many of you grew up watching young white girls on TV shows talking about brushing their hair 100 times at night to make it pretty (bonus points if you were fool enough to try on your own Colored head like I was? When would the white woman who grew up in the white neighborhood have been exposed to my ritual of braiding my natural mane at night, or my roommate’s nightly scarf routine?

Our hair comes in a lot more different varieties than women of other races. Among our ranks, we have natural tresses that are straight as a ruler and kinked tight as a Boy Scout knot and everything in between. And then you factor in chemicals and weaves and we have pretty much every hair texture on the planet represented somehow. That is interesting to outsiders, I get that. However, a lack of exposure does not give one the right to treat those with whom they are unfamiliar like monkeys in a zoo. Yet, there are far too many white folks who will jump out the window and touch a black person’s hair as if it’s an exotic kitten or speckled pup. As Martin said, this has a lot more to do with respect than we may realize. Word to the (un)wise: whatever the reasons, keep your damn hands to yourself. Use the internet and Google to guide you to any answers you may desire regarding black hair and pretend that you see us brown folks as human beings.

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  • jeremy

    get over it

  • Pingback: This isn’t a petting zoo | Thirty-Seven()

  • Greenhistorypark

    Ppl want to touch curly hair in general but whenever I get mine straightened girls of my race touch my hair and I just don’t like ppl touching my hair in general b/c who knows where its been!

  • til

    Compliments come daily about my hair.I have always been very versatile in the stylin of my hair happens to be very thick.people of other ethnicities have asked to touch it and I’m. Quite flattered!what I have a problem with is my Sistas askin is it real and proceedin to dig in to the scalp!checkin for weave I guess!now that is what I find totally out of line and inappropriate!

  • Mimi

    I live in a mostly white wealthy town. Oh MY GOD! When I was younger 3-5 grade they would ask to touch my hair and or just "randomly" touch my hair, and (by 5th grade) I'm thinking what the heck is your problem I don't ask to touch your hair so stop touching mine. Like one day in 5th grade I came in with my hair curlier than usual because I hadn't had a lot of time to comb it out so whenever a person would come into the classroom they'd stop ipand touch my hair I wouldn't to smack ALL OF THEM!

  • Blacq

    "Touching" for sistas is ased more on reaching out and touching a sista when this "random" act is RUDE as hell.
    Now if you see this as the feeling of sistas versus your race and culture? You might want to re-think the word respect and how it's application.

  • Blacq

    Dam right. My hair is not the petting zoo. I have no desire to feel the hair of an individual of any other race.

    Why? When I have my own HAPPY-to-be-NAPPY soft lamb's wool to touch and admire.

  • 360

    I think most of the ladies commenting on this subject wear their hair in it's natural state. I've never had weave or braids in my life. There's nothing wrong with weaving or braiding other than it's not for me. However, I have experienced a 30 minute relaxer and styling session.

    As for the "typical black girl attitude" you speak of, is that the circa 1990s SNAP, SNAP, SNAP you see in the talking box in your living room? Yeah. Most of us never really did that.

  • 360

    I think a lot of the touching that is going on is to make fun of our hair because it's different and God forbid beautiful. White women have this desire to put us back in our place if attention is given to us. So what better way to do so than objectifying as many differences as possible? It's just a desperate defense mechanism to make "other" women feel inferior or less than. When a woman of another race is beautiful or even has unique (especially natural) features White women get a little pissed off.

  • kim

    How about this:

    Never touch a stranger's hair without asking first.

    Its that simple…. I don't see anything to argue about. I would think this was common sense to people but….

  • Coco

    My hair is a part of my body, just like my breasts and my butt. I don't like people touching these areas without my permission and I'm not interested in educating strangers about them. It's about respect for human beings and personal space.

  • the Swimmah

    I'd rather pet a goat than touch a black woman's hair. Besides who needs crabs or lice?

    • rex

      nice one, but black people don't really get lice its extremely rare (look it up) and crabs does not live on the head. maybe you should clarify your material before attempting to be offensive because you kinda sound like an idiot…

  • mira8

    No one should be touched without permission. And yet, I can't count how many times a black woman has taken it upon herself to "fix" the way this white girl looks without my asking. Never occurred to me I should write a whiny article about it before.

  • kntmusiclover

    you know if someone asks politely and they are nice about it.. i have allowed them to. but i was out some where and this girl who was white just reached out and touched it and I thought it was rude. I dont think people respect personal space.

    and then my momma always told me dont let people touch your hair cause you dont know where their hands have been

  • Paul

    This is about "ownership of black bodies"? Can we please save that rhetoric for a time when it's appropriate… I am a Caucasian male with red hair, and more than once, African-American women whom I have never met before have come up and asked me if they could touch my hair. Touching the body of a stranger may be socially awkward – pregnant women have a lot more experience with this than I do, I am sure – but it's not a sign of some deeper racism or disrespect. Come on.

    • rex

      Exactly, they ASKED. Very different from a stranger walking up to petting your head.

    • Samuels

      A white male teaching people of color what’s racist and what isn’t? This should go over well.

      At least they asked for your express permission before doing so. Many women of color don’t even get this basic social grace, hence the point of the article before you derailed to your completely different experience. Check your privilege, please.


      you only are saying that because you are a white man and you have absolutely no idea. You want to believe and write off anything that points the finger at some white peoples inappropriate, bizarre,fascination and fixation on touching the hair of black people. If you notice, you never ever ever hear about white people sharing stories about random black strangers wanting/asking to touch their hair.. why? because the average black person does not give a damn about your straight stringy tresses. To the black women who really probably didnt ask to your hair (sounds more like you made it up to prove whatever point you were trying to make), or if they did they are a very strange or rare case, or they were simply acting out on you what probably always happens to them all of the time. Only someone who feels entitled to touch you would ask something so invasive. And its not rhetoric you just dont like to hear black people express something that most white individuals do that is rude, annoying , strange and invasive. THAT IS THE TRUTH. NO IF ANDS OR BUTS!

  • Caitlin

    In my opinion, if you have to ask permission to touch someone, then you are not close enough to that person to be touching her. I have straight blond hair, but I experienced the problem of strangers constantly wanting to touch my hair when I lived in China. It is intrusive and annoying, but I always tried to remind myself that they may have been inconsiderate, but were not being intentionally rude. I have a similar problem now that I am pregnant. I just don't understand why strangers or even friends think it is acceptable to touch my stomach. Maybe the reason it irritates me so much is similar to the reason this author expresses for why she hates having her hair touched by strangers – it seems to imply that the body of the person being touched is not her own property, but communal property somehow.

  • Dimples

    I wear my hair natural and it is annoying when I am asked about my hair and the stares OMG! It just so happens that I straightened it for the first time in years and at work you should have seen the smiles; it was crazy but no one asked if they could touch it. The curiosity, of course, and the reason they want to touch it is the texture. I can't wait until this weekend to wash it and go back to work natural.

  • LakotaBlueC

    When I had locs, it was "oh, you remind me of a rag doll, so cute" to "wow, you're hair is soft, I didn't think it would be with locs." And now that it's still natural and in a curly fro, it's "you're hair grows so fast and it's soft too" to "I didn't know you can do so many things wtih your natural hair." WOW Just as our skin color varies so does our hair textures and it's all beautiful hues of brown/black and we all have good hair.

  • rick

    now you have something else to whine about!

  • proud lady

    @ grey eyed girl, my point exactly! I was not rude to this woman in any kind of way, but she responded with hostility. And she thinks WE are the angry ones, smh

  • kayla

    When ever someone, anyone, asks if i can touch my hair, I ask If I can touch theirs too.

    That way, if its a stranger, they will begin to understand the awkwardless and intimacy line they just crossed with me, as they'll probably be thinking "I don't want her to touch my hair". And If its a friend that asks, then the exchange will become a mutual hair touching thing, instead of it being a " lets explore black people thing."

    It makes things A LOT easier for both parties.

    • DIVA

      Hello all,

      This forum is fabulous!! 

      I’ve been LOL..  It’s so true.  Like many, I don’t care who you are or your reason(s).   You want to touch/pet
      my hair like your neighbors dog?  The best advice stated:  “Pay a fab compliment and
      keep on moving”. 

      When I get… ‘can I touch your hair, I say no.”  The word NO isn’t good enough it turns into a heated debate.   I asked them,  allow me to put my hands around your throat because I really need to know what it would feel like to close off your windpipe.  The look of surprise was written on their faces.

      I’ve been natural/locing  22 years and I love it.  My experience:  On (3) different events, someone walked up behind me and cut my locs.    Recently, some a-hole  on the subway grab my hair while I was existing the train.  Reaching for my hair and clothes, regardless where I’m at, seems to be than “curiosity”.  It’s rude, disrespectful which is why I’m purchasing a five finger ring for 2012.. I hope people will learn from this.   As  fashionable and quite as I am, I’m also short of helping someone into the nearest ICU.

      Have a wonderful holiday season and be safe out there.  🙂


  • Joan

    ”I think it’s the idea that they have the right to possess black women and they will take any excuse they can to jump over the border, whether it’s policing our behavior or policing our hair. I think it’s about ownership of black bodies more than it has to actually do with hair.”

    Wow, that is seriously one of the dumbest things I've ever read. This person needs to get into therapy.

  • grey eyed girl

    You are pathetically stupid kayla; it is clear that you never had a mother.

  • SisterSarah

    ATTENTION: Non-black people who genuinely want to be educated about this Black Hair Thang. Read this book:

    Hair Story: Untangling the Roots of Black Hair in America

  • Evan

    I am a white man who has never a single time in his life thought there was anything even slightly wierd about a black womans hair nor had I ever felt the need to experience its texture without experiencing the love and intimacy of the woman growing said hair.

    Having read this article, I now feel oddly fascinated and compelled to touch a black woman's hair.


    • lol!!!!!!!!! mugu!!!!!!!!!!

  • anonymous

    Do people really going around wanting to touch your hair?! Where the heck do you live?! That's a very intimate thing to do, and highly inappropriate among strangers.

    But I will say… God forbid a white person asks about your hair! Really? The writer and some comments say it's not their job to educate white folks about their hair. Why not? Here you have people wanting to bridge a gap and instead you want to turn up your nose and snub the white person. Fine. But what does that accomplish?
    So we can't tell your hair looks great. We can't tell you how beautiful you are. Instead you prefer to find a way to be offended.

    I was talking to a little girl with long, narrow braids and told her how very pretty it was… I asked if it took a long time to braid all that hair and she looked up at me all snotty and said, "It's. NOT. real." Oh. So I said something like, "Well, I'm just a stupid white girl, I didn't know!"
    So it's real nice you teach your kids to have an attitude about it.

    you'd think everyone would want to promote understanding… no matter what the topic.
    I say, don't blame white people for not understanding culture differences if you're not willing to sit down as friends occasionally.

    • Badunkadunk

      EXACTLY. Thank you!!

  • cynthia

    I reunited with an old friend of mine from high school with long curly red hair. I thought it was beautiful, so I reached out to touch it after a long hug. She pulled back obviously not wanting me to touch her hair. We spent the day together and over time I realized that she was wearing extensions. I didn't care whether she was wearing extensions or not, her hair still looked beautiful to me…. What bothered me is she actually thought no one would notice.

  • proud lady

    The point that the author was trying to make was to consider the fact that black people have a complicated history, and the decision to wear our hair in its natural state can be very challenging in a society that puts the european standard above everything else. You sound ignorant as if you have never been educated about black history in America. You have no idea how it feels to be treated as a black woman, especially one with natural hair. If you feel this way about black women you should educate yourself about our culture, and maybe you will have a better understanding of us. Black women may be considered as angry. Why? because most caucasian people are quick to judge someone without understanding who they are and what they have been through. Way to perpetuate the stereotype.

    • SwedishSuzi

      I can't learn when my question is met with condescension for not knowing and a you-don't-know-me attitude culminating in a complete lack of a rational, educational response. I freely admit my ignorance but it's you who've left me in the dark. You tell me to educate myself about your culture while telling me that my attempt to BE educated shows ignorance.

      • proud lady

        Your attempt to BE educated about what?

      • SwedishSuzi

        This is an article that discusses touching hair. I was using a personal anecdote referring to the same topic.

        Black women don't want their hair? It seems like self-loathing is the issue, not race or hair. I hope your statement included the accidental omission of the word "touched." None-the-less, it may be your subconscious revealing your true feeling.

        As to learning what black women's hair feels like: I don't "wanna" check anything like that off my list. I WANT TO know what something in my environment feels like. That is not learned by just looking, but also by touching. Having a single sample to refer to allows us to infer all sorts of things about related objects.

        As to my hostility? Take a look at yourself. That is not me rolling my neck while revealing how I "SHtraighten" my hair in an attempt to conform. I stand proudly knowing that I am a unique snowflake. You can be one, too, but not with that attitude of self-loathing or by looking for ways to be offended. Only YOUR opinion should matter to you.

        Best of luck!

  • mosscatski

    The author of this piece sounds very hostile, with a big giant chip on her shoulder. Who would want to put up with someone with the attitude of a porcupine?

  • diva_natural

    You can't be serious. You don't think white women wear some form of extensions in their hair? A couple years back John McCain's daughter was The View, and she talked about wearing extensions in her hair.

    And you're ridiculous with the "black girl attitude" BS. GTFO!

  • BlahBlah

    This type of article is exactly why the divide between white and black will stand fervent for many years to come. It's inappropriate for any stranger to touch another strangers hair. But, any minority person should strive to help educate others about their culture and differences. When you feel you no longer have to explain your 'negritude' to others then you are a willing participant in sowing seeds of confusion and misinformation. And, no one wants to subconsciously possess you by touching your hair. It's exotic, and pretty, and the texture is unique. That's why white people want to touch your hair.

    • Samuels

      Yes, because it’s the job of people of color to teach white people. It’s their explicit responsibility to make sure white people don’t constantly make social errors based on their ignorance, entitlement and privilege, their solemn duty to protect white people from their own confusion and misinformation.

      Ha. No.

      The ‘divide’ continues because of the thought process that goes something like this: “It’s your fault if you don’t teach them!”
      Kids are one thing. Adults who are more than capable of teaching themselves are another. They can get off their a** and read a blog or article or book and educate themselves. If they don’t want to, then it’s their fault if they screw up. No one else’s.


      NO NO and NO.. it is stupid people like you have this sense that you have to be explained to and told in order to act appropriate towards another human being.. WHY ON EARTH would you want to reach and touch a strangers hair?? then get mad at them for not educating you about THEIR hair?? have you gone mad?? there are search engines like google that can teach you a whole lot about hair, or books, or simply asking.. ITS not my problem that white people want to touch my hair, and nots my problem that some of them are too simple to go read a book or google, but instead violate me and then get upset and blame me for not educating them? how obsurd do you sound? VERY absurd! YOU ARE THE PROBLEM,NOT BLACK PEOPLE WHO DONT WANT TO BE TOUCHED. BLAMING THE VICTIM IS THE NAME OF YOUR GAME. Nobody should have to teach you anything, go pick up a book and stop being intrusive, and curious about the wrong things.

  • Tara

    I don't care if you're black, white, purple or green…you don't just go around touching people – anywhere. What it comes down to is curiosity. I have 5 kids and am stopped all the time by people asking how I do it, what it's like, etc. So this issue isn't limited to hair.

    As for "black" hair, I know for me at least, knowing what it looks like and what it feels like, are two different things. A magazine or news article can't accurately describe what it feels like. I would never ask a complete stranger if I could touch them.

    From the perspective of a white person, I don't see it as treating someone like a monkey in a zoo. It's something I don't have, something I don't have experience with, but something that is fascinating and beautiful. It requires a regimen completely foreign to me. Black ladies can do things with their hair that I could never do with mine, so that's where I come from. So again, I would never ask a person if I could touch their hair, but I would sit there the entire ride and wonder how do they do that? and what it would be like to have.

  • it's just hair

    Some people are rude. They touch your pregnant belly or touch your baby with their dirty hands. But none of these acts are defined by race. There are rude and stupid black women too.

    So, as a white woman with naturally curly hair, am I supposed to feel demeaned when someone asks to feel it? I'm not, because I get it. You should get a clue – LIfe is not one big conspiracy theory.

    When my hair is loose and curly it looks like it should be hard and crunchy, but it's soft and springs right back. When a chick with straight hair curls hers, she has to put a bunch of gunk in it to hold and hers is hard and crunchy and doesn't spring back. it's not a white and black thing, it's a How Does It Do That thing.

    You want me to understand your culture, your differences and your views, but you don't want me to ask questions or admit that there are differences. Make a decision. I can't understand if you don't share and by getting close to you and admiring a unique feature you have I"m not trying to OWN you, I'm trying to KNOW you.

  • Letricia D

    Interestingly, it is not the other races who want to touch my hair. It is my sisters who think that just because my hair is long that is is "not yours."

    • grey eyed girl

      Strangely for me it is, more white, mexican and asian women assume that my hair is not mines because of its texture and length. I simply tell them that I do not have to be of their background to have natural long hair and to stop buying into stereotypes about black women; its foolish.

  • Lionesse

    I would never, ever "pet" a stranger. However, much to my horror, strangers seem to feel free to touch or stroke my hair. I am white, blonde, and my hair is very long. I've even had a woman in line behind me stroke my hair and tell her young child "oooo pretty, see?". They were black.

    So I don't know that I am convinced the "petting" of black women's hair is anything but people being rude and invasive to extremes.

  • Natureofaqueen

    I have definitely encountered the question of "Can I touch your hair" by my caucasian friends, notice I said they asked. I understood their curiosity so it wasnt an issue because they were friends of mines.
    I dont find it offensive nor do i feel like I'm "Exotic Black Woman" on display.
    I believe someone is generally interested in my hair as I am of the tattoo on their body.

  • SisterSarah

    I've never been pregnant, but I've gotten angry for the pregnant women who have to put up with strangers rubbing their bellies. LIttle old ladies seem to be the worst offenders, lol. Good for you for raising your son to respect boundaries. This also teaches him that he has boundaries that should be respected as well.

  • Soft Like Cotton

    I must admit, natural hair just has a property that when you see it you just want to touch it . Heck, I can barely keep my hands out of my own hair! I love its appearance, texture, variances, how it feels etc. I do not mind people touching if they ask first. When I had locs people would ask to touch them ALL THE TIME! Now with my loose natural hair people stare a lot more. I can especially tell when I'm on an elevator and can feel someone's eyes burning a hole in my scalp. There is this one white girl I know that reaches into my hair, to the ROOTS every time i see her and kind of rubs, strange. I guess she wants to see if my hair is real.

  • lina

    I've had black friends ask to touch my hair, and as they were friends I didn't mind. i felt like ok theyve never done it before they can feel what its like if they want. people also ask me to braid their hair all the time, so I don't think anyone I've come across anyone has had much of a problem with it. then again i never went up to a stranger and shoved my hand onto their head. I think in general most people regarding hair or anything else need to learn some social ques, the way people act sometimes it's like they were raised in a barn. example: professor in front of a whole bunch of students asked a personal question about the health of a family member, I thought, great everyone needs to know whats going on in my life. time and place people!

  • No black person has ever asked to touch my hair because black women know what it is to a black womens hair,, who goes around touching other folks hair, its plian ignorant and nobody wants your hand all over their hair, are your hands clean? did you wash them after using the washroom? Pleas white folks stop trying to touch blakc womens hair.. i have never seen a black women want to touch a white womens hair.. never!

    • Mira

      I'm white and I get black women touching my hair all the time. Some people OF ALL COLORS just don't have manners. Believe it or not, not everything is about race.

      • IAM always right

        ok, obviously it is about race, black people most likely are the majority who have that very specific and unique hair texture that most other races(particularly white/asian) people who usually have straight hair (even if the pattern is slightly curly the strand itself is still relatively straight), want to touch black peoples hair! So it is specifically about race because black people have that type of hair, which comes in several different curl patterns/varieties but its still a very unique curl pattern! From super super tight, to loose curl, deep wave etc. Its so unique and you almost only see it amongst black people. There are a couple jewish people you see that have thick curly hair (almost afro like),but almost never have the super tight curl that some black people have. I think some white people hate the idea of something having a racial aspect to it because it then hightlights their ignorance and lack of wanting to acknowledge their own ignorance and lack of respect for others. They always want to disregard as using a ‘race card’ or being sensitive, Iam NOT being sensitive, I am simply responding to your insensitivity and obvious need to do whatever your white heart desires.. fact fact and fact.

  • I'm getting tired of people always linking something to race. I don't care what color you are – I don't want any random person's bootydiggin fingers in my head.

    People who ask to touch my hair are normally just curious as to how it feels and how I get it styled that way. If they ask first, I don't really mind if they touch..not something I would ever do, though. When I teach others about natural hair, they are intrigued and usually have positive things to say. It's an opportunity to educate.

  • KNB1

    @Jasmine You took the words right out of my mouth. Ironicly enough I’ve gotten more compliments from non-black races. I have no issue with A lot of blacks are usually quick to describe my type of hair as nappy like it’s a bad thing. They’re right; it’s nappy and I love it!

    @Kayla Actually many different races get weaves and perms (but I really think you meant relaxers.) They’re not exclusively used by black women.

  • GailS

    It is not my job to teach white people the ins and outs of black culture. Don't touch my hair if you're white. It's as simple as that.

    • chaka1

      Actually, it is. It's the only way they learn.

    • it's just hair

      But I could touch your hair if I was black? Now who is racist?

  • Jasmine

    This is ridiculous. I go to a predominantly white school, and yes the questions get annoying. But to take someone's curiosity and admiration and turn it into something negative is completely unnecessary. As a natural, I think it's great that people outside of my race or even outside of myself think my hair is "awesome" and "cool". Some have even said beautiful, but just because someone doesn't say that specific word, doesn't mean I assume they are a dominating racist who wants to own me! Moral of the story is, stop looking for enemies where there are none. I hate when black folk try to make it seem like the whole world is against us. It just makes us look bad and like the stereotypical angry, violent, black women. If you want people to understand where you're coming from, you've gotta understand where they are coming from.

    • Deeana

      I agree. as long as you're not messing up the due with too much curiosity, and I know you then I don't care. Some white people OD and start taking aprt the twist out, or matting the fro.
      That's when you got to go.

    • I agree, Jasmine. 🙂

  • Ebony

    I think this issue has more to do with "Don't Touch Me" -period than don't touch my hair. Really who wants to be touched by a total stranger for any reason?

    Black women are notoriously over sensitive about our hair. Many black women will not even let their man touch their hair.
    We blame this sensitivity on white folk. But it's us. We degrade our hair at every available turn. We remind white society of a way to insult us that in many ways has been long forgotten by them.

    Hair serves a purpose. To protect our skin. If we style our hair we can make it pretty. But it is still just hair. It's high time that black women keep hair in it's proper place in our lives. We have so many issues within our culture that we can tackle, yet we spend millions of dollars and countless hours on hair issues..

    • Mary J

      Gur you must be crazy.. I love for my husband to touch my hair, my skin, and me! I don't want a co worker or complete stranger begging to touch my hair knowing full well they may have not washed their damn hands after wiping they're a$$ after using the bathroom!!!

      My natural hair is my crown, it's healthy and beautiful.. It's for me and my husband to enjoy!

      Why would someone want to touch someones hair and it may be dirty?? Folks don't want to find a strand of hair in their food, but they want to pet, squeeze and play in sombodies hair and not know what this persons hygiene habits are? What????

      Pay me a compliment if you like my style and keep it movin.

    • SisterSarah

      "Many black women will not even let their man touch their hair. "

      I'm going to generalize and say this is mostly the rule of women who wear weaves/extensions which is the majority of Black women. Tugging and pulling on extensions can hurt! I know my head would be tender the first week or so after getting my braids in, and they weren't even done that tight.

      My hair is natural now, and I wouldn't have a problem with my guy touching it unless it was really dry and needed a deep conditioning or something, lol. I think relaxed women who don't wear extensions are probably the same way.

      There is also a difference between him touching my hair and raking his hands through it. That is just not happening. I am not risking split ends and a tender scalp just so he can fulfill some fantasy. I don't get the obsession some black men have over wanting to run their hands through a woman's hair. I mean, I can't run mine through his!

  • QuietlyLaughing

    lol Hilarious! My tresses change quite often so I find myself constantly explaining the process of braids, weaves, short hair cuts etc…. Although, I have learned to find their ignorance humorous I agree with this post.

  • & Mr. Brazilian (HeadSmackeroni), I don’t know if you actually READ the article, but it is addressing strangers and/or casual acquaintances touching a black woman’s hair -not her intimate partner, whose touch she likely welcomes.

    Also for the record, I like that my hair “gets stuck.” It is sculptural. & versatile. To each her own!

  • bishop

    These are female issues, don't concern the men!! Thank goodness..

    • Mary J

      Then go to a website that caters to mens issues. duh! duh!

      I wonder if the men posting here are on the down low for real!!! Why are you on our site?? Don't you like sports?? Dang! Men here reading about black womens hair, then tell us "These are female issues." again, why are you here?

    • grey eyed girl

      Then get off this site and go to a site for men! GOOD RIDDANCE!!!

  • For those who enjoy their hair being touched (after being asked), that’s one thing. But a stranger or casual acquaintance caressing your head without permission is another!

    I actually experienced this just last week (yes last week, July 2011) when my boss of only a few weeks -I just started a new job- complimented my fluffy twist-out and proceeded to dig-in my curl puffs and squeeze as she did so.

    All I could think was that if I did the same back to her, it would be seen as GROSSLY inappropriate. It was so condescending, so infantilizing…yet I accepted it. Because I actually like my job and don’t want to make things awkward……..YET. *sigh*

    • SisterSarah

      MelSense, reading that encounter with your boss gave me this uneasy feeling in the pit of my stomach. I don't care who's the boss or who's the employee, what she did was wrong. I understand the need to smile and lay low because you have bills to pay, but she needs to know what your boundaries truly are, else she will cross them again and again and it invites other to do the same when they witness this behavior.

  • I don't mind answering questions about my natural hair, but the touching sure is annoying.

  • Yvonne


    I totally agree. It is not necessary to make this a black womans problem. It is important to teach people that black women are human beings and deserve the same respect as any other woman. Those same white women that were offended thinking that black women were too sensitive would be yelling sexual harassment if a man walked up to them and asked if he could feel the material on her blouse or skirt because he thought it was pretty or cool.

    Many of these "touching of hair" requests come from co-workers. Folks wanting to feel up your hair at work, and bring attention to you that your probably not looking for. It's ok to compliment someone, but reaching out and touching someone like a two year old baby that doesn't know any better is wrong!

    I agree, the desire to touch may have something to do with the fact that there was a time when white people owed black
    people and white women didn't have to ask black women permission to hold our babies, touch our hair or demand we cover our heads. They referred to black women as "girl" just as they referred to black men as "boys."

    Remember, Harriet Tubman had to ask a room full of white women she gave a speech to them, "aren't I a woman too?

    • SarahSoSincere

      That wasn't Harriet Tubman, that was Sojourner Truth.

      • Yvonne

        @ Sarah,

        I stand corrected! I'm getting old 🙂

  • wise one


    hey i thought i was the only one, i kinda like it too!!

    • Brodie

      It's a compliment in a way. Nobody asks to touch something unless they find it fascinating…lol. My new favorite word is "fascinating".

  • Brodie

    I don't mind people touching my hair. I kinda like it-as long as they ask first. Don't get me wrong, I'm not looking to be felt up or molested by strangers on the street (only at home) but I think some of us like the attention and want to make it seem like we hate getting compliments and questions. I had an old Mexican lady tell me my hair felt like pillow. "O soooo soft."

    Ya'll know ya love it!

    • hot sauce committee

      so you like being petted like a goat in the childrens section of the zoo. Ok if you need attention that bad then carry on i guess……

      • Brodie

        Its mostly black women who ask to touch my hair, probably to see if its real. I don't mind. But I have a mother and father who gave me all I needed including a lesson in being overly sensitive. Where you looking for some sort of emotional reaction with lots of cussing so we could go back and forth all day on MadameNoire? Seriously who needs attention here?

  • HeadSmackeroni

    Okay I'll just continue to touch, pull during 'bed time', etc. my Brazillian fiance's hair. Not to mention give her scalp massages from time to time. =)

    Atleast when her hair blows in the wind it doesn't get stuck.

    • Mary J

      Does she know your secretly trolling a black womans website?? Don't think she would be feeling the love if she knew you were here???

      No brazilian womens websites out there for you?? Lol! You shouldn't be worried about a black womans hair?? You should be texting, emailing and thinking about the love of your life? Hmmm??? Not accessing a website for black women..

      • HeadSmackeroni

        Why would she care? My mother is white, and my father is black.
        It's not like I owe anything to black women, LOL.

        • Mary J

          Why are you on a BLACK WOMANS website??? Where is your Brazilian fiancé? Or is she also a figment of your mind.

          Don't you like mens magazines, sports? Why are you reading about black women, our hair and on this website? Are you trying to get makeup tips, or are you feeling free enough to express your feminine side by trolling black womens websites?? Are you trying to supress something about yourself and can't help but spend time in a place that's not for you??

          Of course you don't owe black women anything, but your interest in our hair and on this site is a tad bit strange for someone that isn't black and doesn't feel he owes black women anything?
          Shut your computer down, and take your meds, for real.

          • Master Flash

            I’m here because I’m fascinated at this taboo I had never heard of. Once I understand what’s going on I’ll be gone.

        • brownsista

          Then why even make an ignorant response? Nobody cares and your comments just show how ignorant you are…..NEXT!

        • mimirose

          …and the award for the world's most obvious idiot goes to you. If you're father is black, genius, unless he is an anomaly, that means a black woman (your GRANDMOTHER) had something to do with your being here–whether you knew her or not. So, no, you don't owe anything to black women…except your very existence. What a moron! Isn't it time for you to go shopping for your Brazilian girlfriend at Walmart or something? Go away.

        • grey eyed girl

          My mother is East Indian and black and my father is Puerto Rican so what is your point? We owe nothing to you either and care nothing about you, so once again; why are you on a site for black women? No one here is interested in you to say the least.

  • Please take out the "Never Touch a Black Woman's Hair" part. It has absolutely NOTHING to do with RACE! Moreover, it is stereotyping black women.

    • Its not a stereotype. It is the truth! Unless you are a fake wannabe sister trying to please white people, touching our hair is the ultimate no no. It is one of he most disrespectful things anyone can do. White people would call the cops on us if we just went up to white people touching their hair. We would get an assault charge.

      • mzati63

        I hear you I,am proud of my natural worn it for years easy to manage, now I,am gray and its even better but they do like to touch or stare like its a new do. But it is coming back many of our sisters are seeing that they can be beautiful with natural hair or braids.

      • qualityrkc

        Unless the white person is really self conscious they wouldn’t react angrily.

      • Master Flash

        Wrong. I would be startled at first from such an unusual act, but within seconds I’d make sure you knew you were free to do whatever touching you desire.

    • I agree, Christy. This is stereotypical. I would much rather prefer that someone ASKS ME FIRST to touch my hair than to just walk up to me and start touching and petting it. I live in the suburbs, so I always got asked about my natural hair or asked to touch it…and then there were those people who just touched it without asking. If the person consents to being touched, then it's not a problem – in my opinion.

      However, it sometimes does get annoying when someone wants to touch my hair…smh…or when they make ignorant comments about it..