I straightened my hair (or had it straightened for me) for as long as I can remember prior to 1999. Also for as long as I can remember and prior to going natural, not one person, classmate, stranger or friend – looked at my hair with curious amazement and asked if they could touch it or reached out to touch it (schoolyard boys pulling my ponytails excepted). Long or short, curled or braided, my hair was just ordinary, everyday run of the mill pressed/straightened/relaxed hair like every other Black girl I knew had.
Healthy, vibrant natural hair is a glory to behold. It shimmers within its tight twists and coils, creating what can either look like a soft, light cushion of cotton candy or a fine, tightly wound crown of coils which spring back effortlessly when pulled.
But these reasons alone are not the only things that make people want to reach out and touch.
No matter how may naturals we interact with online, or see around in our daily lives, we are not the status quo. We are not the majority – we are a small minority. We are still talked about within our own circles as doing “that natural look” or “the natural trend” and most insultingly, a “fad” because we dare to diverge from the Eurocentric cookie cutter hair that fills our news cycles, music airwaves, our media and all the way up to the top of the corporate latter - even to the highest office in the land.
We are the ONLY people who systematically and majority-wise make a conscious decision to completely eradicate, by chemical processing, burning or covering up, our natural hair’s real texture as soon as possible, as often as possible and for as long as possible. For this reason, our hair is an UNcommon UNseen and therefore UNusual and a whole lot of other UNs which - UNfortunately - in the 21st centure still make it a curiosity. People will stare at something out of the ordinary and when that out of the ordinary thing has a texture that begs to be reached out to and touched, well here we are and personal space be damned.
I have not felt negatives when people ask about my hair. It’s more of a fascination with amazement coupled with verbal Oooos and Aaaahs if I allow someone to touch it. Still, I do not allow strangers to touch my hair – I find something about that UNsettling.
All that said, it will be a great day when natural hair is no longer something to be curious about and question, but something more like the sunrise. A beautiful sight but a natural thing you see everyday sight, no matter where you are in the world.
Any thoughts on when that may be?