If you don’t know me in real life and have somehow missed a snapshot of me on this blog, you may not know that I have natural hair (and by “natural”, I mean it is free of chemical relaxers that would make it straight). I transitioned to natural hair in 2008, when I was going through a major life change and a ton of stress that manifested in hair loss. I’m talking clumps of hair coming out at a time. So – as a salon junkie – I decided to simplify my life and stop fixating on my hair. I decided to return to my roots, so to speak, and stop damaging my already fine strands and tender head by just seeing what would happen if I stopped the lyes (pun intended).
So. Fast forward five years and I have a full, healthy head of nearly bra-strap length, naturally curly hair. I love my texture (which is somewhere between 3B and 3C if you’re into hair typing, and I am not), and I love the versatility: I can get dressed without paying undue attention to the weather report and having a zillion back up plans for humidity or rain. I can wear it curly or I can have it blown straight, all in the same week. Top knots, blowouts, or simply wash and go…I wear it all.
That being said, I am not my hair. During the process of returning to natural hair, I learned to appreciate what makes me, ME. But I don’t spend a lot of time thinking about what having natural hair means. To me, it’s just hair: not a political statement. How I wear it is strictly a matter of personal choice. But I’ve also learned that other people are fascinated by natural textures, and I’ve entertained a lot of positive and negative comments and questions – from specific product usage to how I achieve my curl pattern – and I welcome them. Learning to care for something I hadn’t really dealt with since say, elementary school (when my “styling” technique was limited to a ponytail) was daunting, and I don’t mind sharing the tips I’ve picked up along the way, or receiving new ones from others. I’ve learned not to be offended by people who don’t understand “why I HAVE to wear my hair that way“…as if there’s something wrong, ugly or inappropriate about the crown and glory I grow naturally. That’s their issue, not mine. But what I don’t appreciate is the random person who walks up and puts his or her hand in or on my hair.
So I was interested to see this social experiment, where women with various textures stood on the street and let strangers feel their hair, in the name of satisfying their curiosity, combating ignorance, and engaging in discussion. And I guess they were stunned to find out it feels like what it is: HAIR.
I appreciate that this was done in the spirit of enlightening folks and I can totally appreciate the curiosity, but you don’t have to touch something in order to admire it. It’s okay to ask questions and engage with me verbally (feel free to, I love it!), but touching me is far too much. My body is not a free-for-all, and I’m not a one-woman petting zoo or exhibit. It’s really mind-blowing to me that people remain blissfully unaware that women’s bodies are not up for grabs. I don’t want to go all “eye of the tiger” on anyone, but I consider uninvited touching an unspoken invitation for me to “touch” you back. Extreme? Yeah. But we all learn in preschool (or via home training) to keep our hands to ourselves.
If you really want to know what dealing with my hair is like, just ask my stylist.