Why you can’t touch my kids hair…

Recently we were out and a woman squealed and proceeded to start to touch my daughters hair. Why do people think they can do that? Is she your child? Do you know her? Do you know me?! A complete stranger has touched or tried to touch my daughter’s hair more times than I can count. Here’s some advice… DON’T!

Why you can't touch my kids hair by The Mixed Mama Blog for Multiracial Media

Hair in the African American community has a greater cultural significance that it does in most other cultures (especially in America). Black woman, in particular have been kept from attending prom, threatened expulsion because of Afro Puffs, taken out of class because the teacher didn’t like the hair product she used, and had their natural hair been deemed unacceptable, among many other horrendous things.

African American people in America have had to change and chemically treat their hair for decades to fit into White culture and be more accepted by White society. They had to change who they are to be treated better and to survive. This is why the role can’t be reversed when challenging cultural appropriation. This has led to a lot of significance being put on hair. Now there is a Natural Hair Movement going on trying to bring back an appreciation and acceptance of WoC’s crowns. There was even a ‘Curlfest’ held in NYC recently.

Beautiful Black Woman

Black women have also had to deal with other cultures appropriating their hair styles that they get negative consequences from but when somebody, of say… the White race, wears it they get praise. Now I will admit this particular subject has grey areas to it because personally I feel we can all wear whatever hairstyle we want… but when it is done in a manner where the White person is acting as though they created it… that therein lies the problem (imo).  Again, it’s also a problem when Black women and girls get singled out and told their NATURAL hair isn’t “professional” or “acceptable.”  In an idealistic world, nobody would get crap for what hairstyle they wear but unfortunately that is not the case.

Another issue that I’m learning that women of color face is other people’s fascination with it. Unfortunately a LOT of people in America have never really encountered a PoC. This leads a lot of people to reach out and touch PoC’s hair, especially WoC. Without asking! It’s a complete disrespect of space and boundaries. Now, I am a White woman, so I hope I don’t come across as trying to speak for PoC, rather trying to learn and stand up for children who are multiracial. This article in HuffPost shares from a Black woman’s perspective how she feels when people touch Black woman’s hair it comes from a White Supremacist’s society where black people are viewed as something to spectate or view as an exhibit… instead of the human beings they are.  This sadly makes sense. Solange did a whole amazing song titled “Don’t touch my hair” that is incredibly beautiful about this topic.

Who can touch my hair_mockup

Who can touch my hair? NOT YOU!

What shocks me even more is the audacity of some people to not only not respect somebody’s boundaries and touch their hair… but to do it to a child!? Would you as a stranger go up to a White kids hair and touch it? You might get your ass beat if you touched the wrong person’s child.

Curl Next Door_ Happy Smile _ by The Mixed Mama Blog

I mean… I get it’s interesting. I love my daughter’s hair. It’s is soft and wonderful. It’s big and bouncy. But guess what?! That’s MY child. That’s HER hair. Not yours. DO NOT TOUCH IT! Resist the urge. Because I am trying to raise a strong child who is proud of who she is and her hair and I’m getting really sick of holding my tongue. I want to teach my daughter to stand up for herself and know she has body autonomy and nobody has the right to touch her! No matter how pretty you think it is. She isn’t  a prop for you to enjoy. BACK UP!

Disclaimer- I am not a professional… this is just what I’ve learned through research and trial & error. We are always learning and I am not afraid to admit if I am wrong and made a mistake. It’s ok if you do too. We, as parents, aren’t perfect. That’s ok. As long as we try as hard as we can for our children.

Again, if there are any specific topics you are interested in learning about or reading please let me know either down in the comments below or by emailing me directly at: themixedmamablog@gmail.com with “Multiracial Media Column Question” as your Subject line. 

Thanks for reading and good luck!

Nicholette The Mixed Mama Signature


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Published on: August 23, 2017

Filed Under: Voices of the Community

Views: 1250

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5 Responses to Why you can’t touch my kids hair…

  1. Suzanne says:

    Your daughter’s hair is stunning and you are absolutely right about how inappropriate it is for anyone to touch her hair or get in her personal space. I wanted to offer a different story though just as a perspective on it. I grew up with white blonde hair. Unfortunately it isn’t anymore but it was for the first 20 years of my life. When I was a child (4 or 5) we traveled to Asia and the entire time we were there, people were constantly coming up to me and touching my hair. I mean constantly. It occurred several times throughout my life – I still remember being in a crowded elevator in New York when I was 16 and I kept feeling someone pull my hair and turned around 3 times before an Asian woman behind me smiled and apologized. A friend with beautiful red hair had similar experiences — including a scary one at a rest stop. I would posit that it’s not simply a racial issue, although it happens to more people of color because of their unusual hair appearance in certain parts of our country, but people with unusual hair types and textures. And again, as someone who was very overwhelmed when it happened to me as a child, I agree with you vehemently that it is very intrusive and inappropriate to do so.

    • Nicholette says:

      Thank you! I would challenge that what happened to you was also sort of racial… just in a different way. You were the minority/different one when you travelled. I just don’t understand how anybody would think its ok to touch somebody else that is a stranger. Thanks for sharing though. I am a blonde too and the only time I had something similar happen to me was when I was younger and one my black girlfriends asked me if she could touch. But the key word? ASK! ♡

  2. Lisa Beatty says:

    Your daughter’s hair is amazingly beautiful and I can understand (kind of) why people want to touch it. I am white and have a lot of hair. I mean, A LOT! It used to be very curly and I hated it. Now, as I’ve gotten older, I’ve learned to pretty much embrace it. Over the years I’ve had to endure many comments, with or without good intent, about my hair. I have had people touch it as well. It’s often offensive and I get real tired of having to defend the type of hair I was born with. Give it a rest, people! There isn’t a product or a technique that is going to change what my hair wants to do naturally. So, in my attempt to love myself and what I was bor with, I most often wear it curly which get’s me noticed (and not because I’m intentionally trying to be). People that do not know someone need to understand that not invading another person’s space includes commenting about personal things and/or touching something as ‘uninvasive’ as their hair. It IS very personal and my advice is, “Don’t!”

  3. SE says:

    Thanks for this. I’ve been googling for parenting answers all night. I never dreamed I would have to deal with this as a parent. My white daughter has friends of several races, and I honestly don’t know if they play with one another’s hair at school. I was horrified tonight at back-to-school night when, as I was talking to the parent of a new girl in school (whom my daughter likes very much), I looked over to see my daughter playing with the girl’s hair. It was in a ponytail on top of her head. The new girl is black. I was so shocked, I just said, “*DAUGHTERNAME* NO! THAT IS VERY RUDE!” She said, “But it’s pouffy!” in this cute voice, and I said, “That is very rude. Stop.” I was harsh, partially out of shock and horror of what I had just witnessed. The parent said, “I’m sure *FRIENDNAME* doesn’t mind.” I said, “I am so sorry.” I know my daughter was admiring her friend’s hair and has no idea what the racial implications are. She was humiliated. I talked to her in the car to explain in simple terms why it is so rude and again at bedtime to tell her I understand that she was embarrassed and that it is something we have to deal with and use to learn from as white people. I said I know it is hard, and I know the feeling is terrible. But that is the feeling that tells us we did something we didn’t know was wrong, and when we learn it was wrong, we can do better next time. She said, “But you’ve never felt this way. You’ve never done anything wrong like this.” And I said, “Oh, yes, I have. I have done it lots of times. I just swallow my pride, listen, and do better next time.” UGH. I have no idea if I did the right things/said the right things/if I made the situation worse by calling her out so harshly in front of the other people. There’s not much available to read on short notice, but this blog post helped. Thank you for talking about it.

    • Alex Barnett says:

      Thank you for sharing. We’re glad the post helped, and we hope you will continue to visit with us. And, if there are other issues you’d like to see written about or covered, please let us know. In addition, feel free to submit your own work if you’d like.

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