Yup, you read that title correctly. I do let my co-workers touch my hair.
Before you automatically cancel me and disregard everything I have to say, hear me out. I have been natural my entire life. I have spent YEARS being the only natural woman in any room I was in. Ever since I was in grade school my classmates, and teachers have been marveling or gawking at my hair and touching it for what seems like forever for me.
Most of the time, those touching my hair were doing it because they thought it was pretty or long, but truth be told all the people touching my hair were black because those were the people I was around growing up. When I got to high school I went to a pretty diverse high school and I didn't have to worry about anyone touching my hair unless one of my friends was braiding it for me, but as Natural hair became more mainstream and I entered the workforce, I did find that my white colleagues were more curious about my hair.
They stared at it, asked lots of questions, and they wanted to touch it and really, after spending years of getting all kinds of questions and attention regarding my hair, I didn't mind. You see, as much as Natural hair has become more of the "norm" there are still a lot of misconceptions and a lack of knowledge about the basics of natural hair. I let my white co-workers/ touch my hair so that they can see Black women have natural hair that is soft, and that our curly/kinky hair isn't hard, or rough, or that the meaning of the word coarse is not synonymous for dry. I let people touch my hair so that they can feel and understand that when we say natural hair is beautiful and normal they can understand that it's true. Natural hair isn't an anomaly. Every time one of my co-workers or colleagues touches my hair, they are always surprised at how it feels, and several times, I've gotten the reaction of " It's so soft!" "I didn't expect it to feel like this" Some, if not most Natural women are not ok with strangers touching their hair and I get it. We are not pets or exhibits, and who doesn't love their own personal space? For me, I know my limits, and if letting someone touch my hair when they ask, will help them normalize natural hair and realize it's not at all like what they thought, then I'm all for it.
Our natural hair is beautiful and it’s taken far too long for natural hair to be accepted. Sometimes touching is believing so I don’t mind.
Do you let people touch your natural hair? Why or why not?
By: Tiffany Forde