For Curly Girls: Can They Touch Your Hair? The Buzz On Privilege And Permission

We all have different sizes of breasts, and if a guy has a question about it.. can he just come up and touch your breasts?

There was a recent interactive public art exhibit, You Can Touch My Hairwhere strangers from all walks of life had the welcomed opportunity to touch various textures of black hair -it caused quite a stir i must add-  it  held this month on June 6th and June 8th at Union Square, New York City with 3 women of color standing at the park holding signs that said “YOU CAN TOUCH MY HAIR”… While the exhibit wasn’t totally restricted to curly girls, as there was also a lady who had a weave on,  i think the question arises mostly with girls on ‘fros.


“The exhibit needn’t be explained or defended.  Art is something that should create a response, whether it be an emotional one or a verbal, a good response or bad response.

You can or can’t touch my hair is not a conversation about hair. It’s much bigger than that. It’s a conversation about how we as “Hyphenated-Americans” all relate to each other.

Here’s the ‘Teaser Video’ from the exhibit




Opinions always vary, while some said #YouCanTouchMyHair.. “I kinda like it. I think it helps answers some of the mystery. When the reaction is good and people love my hair, that makes me smile” .. “ is basically an event of my whole life. I’m excited and interested” .. ” I wouldn’t mind if i’m asked nicely, and if people want to touch it for the right reasons..” (not sure what would be referred to as “right reason” when it comes to touching one’s hair, but..) ..


Others however were totally in some sort of rage, venting..saying #YouCANTtouchMyHairTouch her hair, but stay away from mine.” .. “On a more serious note, this exhibit bothers me because it does absolutely nothing to battle the dehumanizing fascination with black hair and black bodies that has persisted in this country since its inception. We were once science experiments, put on display for nonblacks to point and gawk at how different we are. Now it’s not enough that the fascination with our hair and requests to touch it makes us feel like exhibits — we are exhibits. Literally“.. “You can’t touch MY hair. But, interesting concept. Part public perf. Part privilege experiment.” ..  “black women & petting zoos, is the exact reason this puts me off.


My interest in this topic comes with my ability to relate .. i have a few friends who Are natural and though i don’t have to ask, i just dive into their hair, most actually don’t like people touching it might be a little awkward having strangers put their fingers in your hair. Still, i personally don’t see anything exactly stereotypical about the exhibit, the ladies volunteered..i must say. This is a show that plays out in our everyday life, even before the YCTMH exhibit. I think Its mostly just curiosity…”The same curiosity you probably have at getting to pet a snake for the first time and assuming it’s slimy when in fact it’s quite smooth and lustrous. Or that uncontrollable urge to touch a fur coat at Macy’s. “Is it real rabbit?” and then you run the tips of your fingers through it and are surprised: “Oh, that’s not what I thought it would feel like at all.” So I’m not judging the snake or the coat, I’m just touching it for curiosity sake. I’m curious. Curious to know what your hair feels like since I only know what mine does. Curious to know why hair is so taboo, when I myself have never been raised to believe it was.


Well, someone else came out to voice her opinion in quite a lengthy video, saying it had to do with  personal space. “My feeling is, it reminds me of Sarah Baartman.. We’re always on display..from your butt to your breasts to your hair, we are always examined…I’m well aware that i’m different, but to put me on display? That’s just weird…Its not really white people’s business…”



Those who started the movement said, “So much has come out of the event and we’re still taking it all in. we feel we accomplished this: “We re-confirmed that the answer to “Can I touch your hair?” varies from person to person and even from moment to moment. Some find it demeaning. Some don’t mind it. The one thing I would admittedly have changed about the event was including some sort of “don’t do this to a stranger” and “results may vary from woman to woman” disclosure.“”

All said, what  is YOUR reserve about people touching your hair? And on the “You Can Touch My Hair” Exhibit… YAY(i think its  a thoughtful idea…) OR NAY(i don’t quite see the point, its just weird)?

If you want to know more,READ The article that started it all

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