Hair is a big deal. I’ve always known this but it didn’t really set in until I had stopped relaxing my hair. It was then that I began to experience the hair touching phenomenon. When I straightened my hair very few people asked if they could touch my hair compared to every 1 in 4 interactions when I first went post-relaxer. This sudden change was irritating to say the least. Yes, of course people will be curious but does that give them the right to touch my body without permission? Okay, let’s be generous and say they had asked for permission, what gives them the right to feel offended when I say no? One of my favorite artists, Brooke Candy, breaks it down quite nicely in her song “Don’t Touch my Hair Ho.”
Though Candy’s “Don’t Touch my Hair Ho” is about weave, it combats society’s fascination with disregarding women’s ownership over their own bodies. Whether the song seems silly or hard to relate to, fiercely owning one’s appearance in an entitled society is a problem that most Black women–and particularly women who deviate outside of White beauty standards–have struggled with at one point in their lives. So, how do we stop people from fetishizing others out of their own curiosity? Well, according to a fairly recent exhibition in New York, the best way to educate people is to simply expose them. In June of 2013, ” a throng of people gathered in New York City’s Union Square Park on Saturday to touch black women’s hair” at an exhibit called ‘You Can Touch My Hair.’ Needless to say the exhibit sparked plenty of debate.
For me it is simple. To objectify one’s self for the sake of curiosity– particularly in a country that has a solid history of “othering” Black people–only perpetuates an already vicious cycle. It is time that people be recognized as people and encouraging objectification is nowhere near helping achieve that goal.
So, what are your thoughts?