This week on Going Natural: we’re gonna talk about hair inquiries. Yaaaaay, just when you thought you’d be free from unnecessary comments regarding your coils in the States, now you’ve gotta deal with explaining the logistics to your God-given curls to people that are geographically unfamiliar with black hair. Not to mention it’s spooky season and for my travelin’ sistas you might get a couple of quaking references towards your hair. Tragic.
Girl, I KNOW. Let’s have a moment of silence. *Let’s out exasperated gasp*
Anyway, carry on.
So you’re out and about traveling’ through the Swiss Alps or hanging out in Split’s city center or even enjoying a drink at an Irish bar with your travel homies (basically minding your own business) and out of the blue you get an unnecessary inquiry about your hair that makes your follicles twitch: “Can I touch it?”
And while asking, the person simultaneously reaches to “pet” your hair as if your hair is some sort of animal on display at a zoo or the sample tray at the food court, free to the public eye. And of course, before you could stop the person from grabbing your precious, fragile strands, they’re inches deep in yo’ scalp untangling the coils you spent twisting the night before.
“Omg, it’s so… soft,” they say, appalled by how smooth your natural strands are and proven wrong about their negative assumption of black hair. Absolutely tragic.
Suddenly your hair becomes an exhibition and you become the center of inquiries that are both cringing on your end but low-key understanding on their end and it starts a conflict within yourself: Should I tell them I feel uncomfortable touching my hair? Do I feel comfortable explaining my hair? Is it even worth explaining how natural hair works? Do I even feel like entertaining this? I don’t know where your hands been but should I even let you touch my god-given strands? So many inquiries and possibilities spiraling in your head.
What’s interesting about these type of situations is that although it sucks being the center of attention randomly, you have the absolute right to politely disregard any unnecessary comments or inquiries that seem disrespectful to you and your coils strands. Trust me, as a natural with 4C hair, it’s heartbreaking being referenced to an animal, receiving crude questions / comments about the maintenance of my hair, or getting into a debacle about whether or not I should allow others to “pet” my hair. It also doesn’t help that if I’m abroad, I’m conflicted because people in that specific country or region aren’t familiar with black hair.
Although we have no control over what comes out of people’s mouths, we have the right to protect ourselves no matter what the circumstances are.
Below are eight polite responses to protect your hair, identity, and space:
Is it all yours? / Is it real?
Response: Thanks for asking, but I find that offensive. It’s an assumption on my end and I’d appreciate it if you understand where I’m coming from.
How do you get your hair like that?
Response: It depends on what you mean by “that.” Please be more specific. My hair just naturally grows out of my scalp like this.
Why do black girls always put in fake hair? Can they grow their hair?
Response: I cannot speak for all black women because every single black woman is different.
Why do you always change your hair? Why can’t you just leave it the way it is?
Response: There are certain styles that I personally like and enjoy doing because they make my hair look good. I also like styling my hair and trying new things with it.
Did you cut it?
Response: I just styled my hair differently, that’s all.
Can I touch it?
Response: I’d prefer if you didn’t, thank you. / Thank you for asking, but I’d appreciate it if you didn’t.
How do you wash it?
Response: Just like everyone else, I wash my hair according to my taste.
Is it difficult to maintain?
Response: Not at all!
Understanding where people are coming from with their inquiries is a definite hard pill to swallow, especially when you’re abroad and find yourself the only black girl or person in certain places. But that shouldn’t stop you from living ya best life, especially during this spooky season. Sis, rock them curls! Wear your coils with pride and struuuuuuut down them streets! Be your most authentic self without apology. Ignorant inquiries can be unsettling but you can choose what to spend your energy on. And if anyone gives you hell for not touching yo hair just say, “MMMM MMM! DON’T GO IN THERE!!!” like Regina Hall in Scary Movie.
*Random hand reaches out to touch hair*
“Are you trying to address me?”