America’s Love of Natural Black Female Hair

27 Jul

By JasmineHughes

Even with a growing number of Black women embracing their natural hair, there remains an immense fascination with it, this includes both other races and also some unfamiliar Blacks. It seems the ‘Puffy Hair Movement’ will take some getting used to.

For many who don’t know, the term “natural hair” for black women is defined as hair that is not processed and not chemically altered. Straightened hair is often viewed as easier to care for and more attractive, but for some, the dangers of a chemical straightener, like a relaxer, are too much.  So, instead, they opt to wear their hair in its natural state. Natural hair can be described as curly, kinky, wavy etc. the list goes on.

Tamara Winfrey Harris recalls a story of being in a chain restaurant with her husband when their names were called for a table. Just as the couple rose to go, a middle-aged white woman standing nearby reached out swiftly to touch Winfrey Harris’s hair which at the time was styled in natural twists.

”She missed by mere seconds, she was actually going to grab my hair as I walked past her,” recalled Winfrey Harris who runs the blog What Tami Said: “I turned around and she said, ‘Oh, your hair is neat.’ It just floored me because who does that, just reaches out and touches strangers?”

Happenings such as the one Harris endured are not uncommon amongst women of color whose natural hair can ignite stares, curiosity, comments and the occasional stranger who desires to reach out and touch.

While the attention remains a sort of constant, the reaction to such active curiosity varies. It can range from flattery to outrage over the raid of personal space.

Blogger Los Angelista explained her response to a woman’s incredulous “Are you serious, I can’t touch your hair?” by writing that no she couldn’t, “Because my black ancestors may have been your ancestors’ property, and had to smile while they got touched in ways they didn’t want to, but I am not YOUR property and never will be so you’d best move your hand away from me.”

Though many share the bloggers strong feelings, I must point out that non-blacks are not the only ones who have a problem keeping their hands to themselves. I can recall an incident in a local beauty store. A Black woman asked to touch my hair while simultaneously touching my hair. She didn’t even wait for my reply. She proceeded to finger her way to my scalp, I suppose in an attempt to see if it was all mine. My point is, while some argue that it is a racial issue and a blatant form of ignorance, I think the overall issue is respect. If the desire to touch another’s mane arises; permission needs to be asked first, it’s really pretty simple.

So why the continuing fascination with natural hair, given that so many women of color are now embracing the style and have been for years? Many think that despite the increasing appearance of it, it’s still considered unique.

Actress Issa Rae, star/creator of the web series “The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl,” said she has been natural all of her life and says the touching doesn’t bother her as much as “when they ask stupid questions to make me feel like my hair is alien hair.”

“I had someone ask me if I wear my hair like this to honor my ancestors, and that was funny to me,” she said. “This is not for Kunta [Kinte].”

Rae notes that in the 1970s, there was an afro movement for a while, but it died down in the 1980s. There are quite a few layers when it comes to discussions about black hair, from length to texture, and hair is very much tied to the culture, she said.

“Hair is just a huge component of blackness, so it’s not going to go away,” she continued.

About jasminesnroses

Hello World. I’m a recent graduate of Rutgers University, trying to make my mark. I have many interests, curiosities and ideas. All of which can be found here. So stick around =)


11 Responses to “America’s Love of Natural Black Female Hair”

  1. blkgalusa July 27, 2011 at 9:40 pm #

    I prefer my hair natural. I cannot stand heat of any kind near my head. I am very very comfortable in my own skin for once in my life.

  2. salmonnaturals July 27, 2011 at 10:22 pm #

    I agree on the respect point of view people need to remember personal space.

    • B-MO July 28, 2011 at 7:35 pm #

      I think it’s VERY Arrogant of that white woman to assume and then Presume that she could take such liberties, I mean think about it. She didn’t know you from a can of paint. So where did she get this idea that she could do that? If she walked away with a busted lip or broken finger? I can only imagine the reprocussions. And the entitlement that she would convey to the officer and the world. Where was she from? And what was her socioeconomic status? (rhetorical) to the blonde below? or above? Case and no point, you’re truly blonde(fitting the ideals of the joke) You may experience that phenomenon over-seas but not here. 🙂 Get off our Jock! Lol

  3. ICADATRUTH July 28, 2011 at 4:55 pm #

    Natural hair well taken care of is ……….Breathtaking!

  4. vikingirish July 28, 2011 at 6:29 pm #

    Please. I have long blonde hair and people reach out to touch it all the time. It startles me and I don’t like it, but I know It has NOTHING to do with their ancestors and my ancestors being in any kind of power struggle. Hair is visually fascinating, that is why we pay so much attention to it. Some people are just more impulsive than others.

  5. S. T. July 28, 2011 at 7:35 pm #

    Are you out of your mind!?? Is this supposed to be a serious article or am I missing the point? I have a blonde friend from Europe and when we travelled to places like Africa, people touched her hair, constantly. In fact, the first four (4) people, in my life who have ever told me I had GREAT hair were white Europeans. This didn’t happen until I was an adult. Now “naturals” are back in. I was wearing my hair natural before the “natural” came back in style. I understand the pride with wearing our hair in its natural state ( I’ve seen some beautiful hair styles out there), but let’s not become “full of ourselves”. The touching comes from a lack of familiarity. I see black and white kids touch each others hair all the time. This will continue until people get used to it. Let’s not make it a bigger deal than it is, otherwise whites won’t be the only ones commiting a crime.

  6. HiSis Isis July 28, 2011 at 8:57 pm #

    I love my natural dread locks! Others do not get a chance to touch it as I am always touching it myself.

  7. Joyce Bingmon July 29, 2011 at 6:03 pm #

    I am a Black woman with very thick average length relaxed hair and I have had Black men touch and sometimes even attempt to finger their way up my scalp without even thinking to ask! I assume they are “checking for tracks” and I think this is ABSOLUTELY disrespectful and a total violation of space and person. If a person asks to touch my hair I would most often oblige, so the point of the article for those who don’t get it is, JUST ASK!

  8. patricia garrett December 21, 2011 at 4:38 pm #

    Black woman are OBSESSED with the topic of hair!!! What is really going on with yall???? I do not see you in healthy deabates about the PLIGHT of our families and the enormous LOSS of black males to the white man slavery called prison.. I AM sick of it now sisters!! Get involved with what really matters too us jobs, marriages and MORE importantly true GOD….

    • Lanie21 January 7, 2012 at 9:43 pm #

      CO-SIGN 100%!! This hair thing is overrated now! We have bigger issues than worrying about dramas queens overreating to people touching their hair!


  1. America’s Love of Natural Black Female Hair « Black News for black people - July 27, 2011

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