You know I'm always game to talk about my hair, so when a friend hooked me up with Lisa Respers France, who was writing a story about black natural hair for CNN, I was eager to participate. It's not often that mainstream sources report on black women's beauty experiences or our challenges living within a society with Eurocentric beauty standards. The resulting post on CNN.com, about that peculiar thing that every natural head I know talks about--strangers touching their hair--is here:
(CNN) -- Tamara Winfrey Harris tells 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?"
It's a common tale shared by women of color whose natural hair can attract stares, curiosity, comments and the occasional stranger who desires to reach out and touch.
The reaction to such fondling can range from amusement to outrage over the invasion of personal space.
Tamara Winfrey Harris says she had a total stranger reach for her hair in a restaurant.Hee! I was tickled pink to see my name in the lead. I was even more thrilled to see that I was featured alongside really smart ladies like Renee of Womanist Musings, Liz of Los Angelista and Issa Rae of the phenomenal The Misadventures of an Awkward Black Girl. I wasn't so thrilled, though, with the level of hateful email and racist vitriol the article sparked for the women included. All I can say is that there are some ugly people with really ugly thoughts out there. And I have finally learned my lesson about venturing into the comments on any mainstream news site, except The Atlantic, where the discourse always seems rigorous, but thoughtful (at least at Ta-Nehisi Coates' place).
The discussion surrounding it is often rooted in race relations. Read more...
There are a few points that I'd like to clarify regarding my feelings on unwanted hair touching.