Don’t Touch My Hair
A long French braid hanging on the right side of my head was a signature look for me as a little girl. I never left the house without my hair done. Thanks to Pink Lotion, hair grease, and some sort of gel, my hair was always neat and slicked down. Baby hairs were effortlessly laid at all times. My braids were always accompanied by a ball barrette; I used to call them ballitos, at the top of my head to hold it in place. The bottoms of my braids were always secured with a cute colorful barrette, the ones that if you shook your head hard enough they might scratch your face. At times I would have a few braids placed all over my head, other times one braid would suffice. It all depended on just how much time my mom had to sit down and comb through my thick a** hair that day.
There are many features that people have that play a part in defining who they are. For me, it’s always been my hair. My hair has been my security blanket since I can remember. From the multiple French braid plats in my head as a child, to a perm straightened to perfection to now my coily, thick, beautiful, natural curls that frame my face and hang just below my chin. My transition to natural over the past 5 years has been a journey that has allowed for me to become more in tune with myself. The maintenance, the trial and error of styles, the length check after months without heat and the frustrating “I’m going to chop all of my hair off” feeling at least once a week has allowed me to realize the versatility of my natural hair. It has made me appreciate just how beautiful it is to be a black woman and reassures my confidence when people tell me otherwise. All of it has participated in the character that my hair has come to be.
But with big hair comes big responsibility. Maintenance is a huge part of what keeps our hair healthy and looking good. Wet it, condition, finger detangle, rinse. Leave in conditioner, coconut oil, add multiple styling products, gel. This doesn’t even include the deep condition that should be done once a week. With all the time and effort put into styling my hair the way I like it, I have zero tolerance for hands in, near, and or around it. Don’t touch my hair.
I often receive compliments and questions about my hair daily from natural girls alike and especially white women. “Oh my God your hair is so beautiful, I wish I had hair like yours”, “What do you put in it to make it that curly?” “How can I get my hair to be like that?”, “I have kinky hair just like you”, “Can I touch it?” Thank you, water, I was born with this hair, no you don’t miss, no I prefer that you don’t touch it. I accept the compliments of course but often feel like a spectacle. People ask to touch my hair or extend their arms and go directly for it and it’s one of the most uncomfortable things ever. News flash, I am not an animal and this is not a petting zoo. Think about it for a second. Would you let a stranger stick their foreign hands into your precious mane, let alone your personal space? Don’t touch my hair.
“Don’t touch my hair, when it’s the feelings that I wear.”
My hair is not only an extension of me but also an extension of my feelings and entire being. My hair is a spiritual antenna that soaks up energy like a sponge. My hair is a statement of my pride as a black woman. Non-conformity. A direct connection to my personal identity.
I think about how these people desire to have hair like mine and wonder would they accept the struggle that comes with it? In our own little natural girl bubble, we consider ourselves black girl magic and queens for a multitude of reasons including our unique looks. But the truth is in this sphere we call society, our looks are seen as an opportunity to be trendy with no homage paid what so ever. It’s a hairstyle to them. It’s a lifestyle to us. Our hair isn’t professional enough for the workforce but down the runways of Marc Jacobs fashion shows we should appreciate the appropriation. In a world where we aren’t accepted for our natural beauty, my only agenda is to satisfy myself and love the skin I’m in. I will never compromise my beliefs and feelings to satisfy others which include the boundaries that surround my hair and the respect it deserves. ‘Don’t Touch My Hair’ is much more than a song for us. It’s a statement that needed to be made and cannot be overlooked. Thank you, Solange, for such a liberating song that speaks to our truth and our struggle.
“Don’t touch my hair
When it’s the feelings I wear
Don’t touch my soul
When it’s the rhythm I know
Don’t touch my crown
They say the vision I’ve found
Don’t touch what’s there
When it’s the feelings I wear”