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For people with dreadlocks or “unusual hair,” having perfect strangers go up to them to touch their hair without permission is a common issue. If you type in the words “don’t touch my dreadlocks” on Google Search, you will see online forums and blog posts of people talking about their personal experiences with this. Those strangers may mean well, but it does not erase the fact that it’s rude and unethical to just touch people like that. People you don’t even know.
I get it, my locs look interesting. My hair is twisted and locked together in perfect proportion. It looks glorious. Thank you, but please don’t touch my hair. What would you feel if I touched your hair without your permission? What would you feel if I snuck up on you, came up to you behind your back and just played with your hair?
For many years, women of color have been forced to straighten their hair and conform to what society thinks is beautiful, which is straight, silky hair a.k.a. a white woman’s hair. Black women’s natural hair is considered nappy and not elegant. If we don’t straighten our hair, we risk not getting accepted for our dream job (just recently, we all found out that being rejected from a job because of having dreadlocks is perfectly okay and is not grounds for any legal repercussions), not being taken seriously, or seen as someone who smokes weed all day and smells disgusting. There’s even this nasty rumor going around that we don’t wash our locs!
For many, many years, black women’s natural hair and dreadlocks were - and still are - seen as not beautiful. For many, many years, it has been very difficult for us to accept what we look like and what our hair looks like. We have only recently realized that we should not be pleasing anyone else but ourselves, that we are beautiful no matter what our hair is like, no matter how our hair behaves or no matter how often it does not.
Yes, it’s just hair, but at the same time, it’s not just hair. Our hair has defined us for a long time, and we are now only starting to embrace it in all its natural glory. So please, don’t make my hair out to be an object that you can just touch to see what it feels like. Don’t turn my hair into a cheap form of entertainment.
Please, don’t touch my hair.