Don’t touch my hair!!! Is being shouted in every public forum. Don’t touch my hair!! Doesn’t even seem like anything that should need to be said. It’s truly unfortunate that someone would need to be told that it is not copasetic to put your hands on someone else’s person without explicit permission. But I guess🤷🏽♀️
I’m not exactly jumping in the “don’t touch my hair” bandwagon, although I agree with these ladies and gentlemen that their space should be respected. Curiosity does not trump good manners. I have observed that now that Black people have embraced education on styling and maintaining our hair in it’s natural form, our artistry is seen more openly in workplaces and common environments. What appears as new styles to some, are the same refashioned styles we’ve been rockin’ at home and our social gatherings for decades.
I have never in my 9 years of growing dreadlocks had anyone touch them without being invited. Ever. And the idea that someone would seems so lacking of class that I am surprised that people still have these encounters. Curiosity of the texture or how an updo is holding it’s form does not override the rules of good manners.
Do I think of my hair as art? Yes. I have spent time hours upon hours developing my maintenance regiment. I buy herbs and supplements to promote a healthy scalp that will grow and support my hair. I have to nurture each individual loc to avoid thinning and breakage. So is it art? Yes, it is a true and authentic expression of my love for myself and my journey of self-discovery. It is a representation of my unapologetic Blackness. It also aligns with my belief that God knows and loves every hair on my head ~so do I 😍
So since I think of it as an artistic manifestation of my self awareness, then gallery art rules natural apply. I mean I have never run my hands over a car’s high gloss shine at a car show. I’ve never fingered brush strokes of a painting in a museum. I’ve certainly never touched a sandcastle to see if the sand was wet or gritty. In terms of art, the styling of my hair survives under those same rules and a barrier exists for the same reason.
Like I said, I’ve never had someone touch it uninvited, but I definitely allowed people to touch it. I can’t think of a time someone asked to. Each time, I think I offered. Why? Because I didn’t mind being open to a coworker or a friend about the truth and fallacies about Black hair (particularly dreadlocks). Mine are soft, long, and heavy. Is it my job to educate someone else about my hair? If my daily life is interlocked with this other person’s, then yes it is mutually beneficial that they would eventually part ways wiser than when we met. Good information shapes good manners.
I had a coworker named Minerva that would play in my hair during meetings. (It was a very casual but stressful law firm) I loved it! It felt so southing and kept my stress headaches to a minimum. I didn’t assign an insult or offense to it. It was just a girlfriend braiding and unbraiding another friend’s hair.