Exhibit Lets Strangers Touch Black Hair

bighairAs women of color, there are times that a co-worker, or even a complete stranger may ask, “Can I touch your hair?”  As individuals, our responses are different.  Some may, without hesitation, say “sure,” while others may sternly say, “no.”  What is the fascination with black hair?  For starters, there are so many different textures/curl patterns and lastly, because it is so versatile in regards to hairstyling options.

Some say there needs to be more education on black hair….but to educate who?  As women of color, you become educated on your hair, (what works for it and what doesn’t) fairly quickly because it is a part of who you are.  So the question remains, who needs to be educated on black hair?  Perhaps the mainstream hair care companies that are beginning to design products for natural hair? Some may say that more information about black hair needs to be publicized so that natural hair won’t be seen as some political movement, but rather just a choice on how a woman wants to wear her hair.

In New York, there was recently an art exhibit called “You Can Touch My Hair,” that featured women of color on the street holding signs that read, “You can touch my hair.”  As you can imagine, there were onlookers, photographers, and people surrounding the women who actually touched their hair.  This experiment/exhibit certainly gained a lot of attention, but was there an education really taking place here?  Or was this simply a spectacle being made of black women and their hair?  What do you think?  As people in general, we have curiosities about others and possibly even other races, but  with that said, do you think any other race would make themselves an exhibit and offer strangers to touch the parts of them that they were curious about?

Please comment and let us know what you think about this!


Author: Nicolle

Nicolle is a hair enthusiast that has always enjoyed reading hair care books and Black hair style magazines and likes to stay informed on the latest fashion trends. She has been natural for several years and loves the versatility of natural hair.

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  1. I’ve never found it insulting to be asked if someone could touch my hair or even asked questions about my hair when I wear it in its natural state or otherwise. But that’s just me. I make it my mission to educate people…you’d be surprised, I have more black women asking to touch my hair than anything and I’m a black woman. LOL! Don’t get me wrong, I don’t have a mass of hair down my back or anything, but I like to style my hair to fit me. I love my Afro. Hands down! then there are the Fingercoils. There are days its soft, moist and perfect…and there are those days its stiff, crunchy-like and look likes la squirrel with a serious case of electroshock!!. You have the right to say YEAH or NAY to anyone seeking to touch your hair. Its YOUR hair. I’ve never felt like I was a pet, or heaven forbids, some kind of exotic freak. It feels good to know that there are PEOPLE out there that are interested in our hair still. Its when they don’t look at us and make no comment, that we should be worried.

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  2. That’s.. Very interesting! I’m sure everyone that witnessed and participated had a unique experience from this. I don’t really bother for those who want to touch my hair(except if I have extensions/tracks). It’s kind of a compliment/insult when people are shocked that my hair is soft, even though I’m black. Shouldn’t blame em, I guess with stereotypes and never having experience touching black hair in the first place. ( shoot! Kinky nappy curly straight all types of hair can feel smooth and soft!)

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  3. Love the natural of the sisters…bring on the locks!

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  4. Really there is much difference between our hair it can get frizzy, dull, and kinky. I’ve also notice my friends whow hair very straight and volumous hair ask if they can touch my hair but my friends with curly hair(irish) could care less

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  5. As a caucasian woman I can honestly say that I did not know anything about the difference in hair. I had a friend who finally explained it to me and showed me just exactly what she had to do for her hair. It was enlightening. I think more people in general need to be aware of the differences. If for no other reason than to educate people. I think asking to touch someone’s hair is rather strange though. I may have asked as a child but definitely not as an adult. I do not understand why you would ask a stranger.

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    • Also I think the exhibit was interesting as far as letting people feel the difference. I do think that to make a difference though the differences/similarities would need to be explained.

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  6. If there was a video of the exhibition it would be easier to say whether or not that it actually enlightened other races. In general, I think so ppl are just curious about us, including us. The only ppl that have asked to touch my hair were other black ppl.

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  7. I give people they same sideeye when they try to touch my hair as they did when they tried to touch my pregnant belly. I understand the curiosity, but I just don’t like people — I don’t know — invading my personal space. I am happy to explain my hair to strangers and associates alike, but I just don’t like people touching me. On the other hand, it doesn’t bother me enough to make the kind of statements made in protest of the art exhibition. In the beginning of my hair journey, I was more sensitive to comments and curiosity. Now, I’m much more indifferent.

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  8. I have had females asking to touch my hair, and I allowed them to do so. I think that women of color have hair that is unlike any other, and because of this people are curious as to what it feels like. There may be some who would try and make a spectacle of women of color. However I think in general a lot of people just want to know. When you think about it there are a lot of white Americans that are adopting children of color and it would be of great benefit to these people to learn all about our hair and how to take care of it, for the sake of the child that they have welcomed into their homes and lives.

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