What is it about black people’s hair? I’m not referring to our age-old obsession with ‘taming’ it, but rather the lack of boundaries when it comes to other peoples?
Without taking a seat at her table, Solange and many before her, have a point about hair and the general tendency of people to touch it. Hers is a narrative about hair and its link to racial microaggression masqueraded as a compliment whilst denying black women respect, which is valid. But at the basis of this, which is my point of departure are simply boundaries.
I do my hair at the gym. I consider it ‘me time’ and will spend anything between 2-3 hours in the locker room having the time of my life. I will sit in the steam room, wash, condition, sit in the steam room again, rinse then do chunky twist outs. When I do my hair at home, it takes all of 45 minutes but then again I don’t have a steam room to procrastinate in. I’ve been doing the gym-hair thing for years now, and there are just some things that keep happening that get me so annoyed at people. People walking around outchea without an inkling of boundary knowledge and respect, so let me help y’all. Here are six things you really ought to remember about hair and boundaries.
It’s not ok to just stick your hands in anyone’s hair to determine its density and length. It’s the less creepy equivalent of “grabbing them by the pussy”. Firstly, it’s not polite. Even if you ask, it’s still not ok (please note that asking in the midst of touching does not count). It’s a violation of personal space, period. Is it ok to walk around giving stranger’s boobs a quick squeeze to determine their buoyancy? So why do you want to do that with my hair?
2. This isn’t real life Barbie
I’m not a doll, so what is this random combing thing? Bunny does it, but she’s 6 and still plays with Barbie’s. Unless I explicitly ask you to comb my hair, you do not have an invitation to comb my hair. “Please check if my parting is straight?” does not mean comb my hair. FYI, you cannot just root-to-tip comb natural hair. It is dense, it hurts and WILL put me in a state of shock. Don’t do it B. Stay in your lane.
3. White people, this is for you – ask a friend, or ask google
Seriously. Then you won’t come across as racist and/or ignorant person by asking complete strangers what happens when you use a flat iron on an afro, how often you wash hair, if it’s ok to put oily products in it, how we know if it’s dirty… the list goes on and on.
4. My hair, my choice
I would like to think we’ve evolved as humans, but some still reckon it’s ok to dictate, or rather impose their hair choices on others. Chemically straightened, weaves, dreadlocks, braids or natural the choice remains yours. I can’t walk through town anymore on account of the many ‘helpful’ people accosting me every two steps (literally) brandishing a comb with an offer to make my hair ‘nice’. I woke up like this. I have a mirror. I know what I look like. I chose this. In the same way, I hate being told how to treat my hair. Everyone has opinions about how to manage hair, and I’m sure each one holds some merit. You do what works for you, and I’ll do what works for me. You may mean well, but leave me be already!
5. It’s rude to stare – again, white people this is for you
Can I just take a moment to lol at all those who think they can low-key stare from the corner of their eyes? I see you boo. Here’s the thing, when you apply heat onto an oily surface, it smokes up. My hair is not on fire; else I would not be standing there ever so calmly looking at my reflection in the mirror. I see the tendrils smoke, and I see you. Likewise, when my fro is all fluffed and in its glory, don’t be that person. It’s my hair, not a peacock crown. This can’t be the first afro you’ve seen. Walk on by.
6. I’m human, not a robot
“Hi, what do you put in your hair?”. Just like that. No preamble, no foreplay. Look, this hair is attached to someone. The same someone who you expect to respond to your question, so how about you engage with said someone before interrogating hair routines? Healthy hair does not grow itself. If you want a comprehensible response, you are more likely to get one if you engage me rather than just coming at me like I owe you answers.
7. What’s sauce for the goose is sauce for the goose
Guys, don’t just touch my stuff. Am I ruffling through your toiletry bag looking at what products you use on your face? Then why is it fine for you to just invite yourself into my hair bag? That’s just rude. And because you lack manners, I’ll answer only what you ask (and only that) as succinctly as possible. Just because I use it, doesn’t mean it will work for you. I know that, but you don’t. I’ve walked a 6-year hair journey and changed products along the way as my hair has grown and as seasons have changed. I also have products that I keep at home and some that I mix on my own. So, if you barge into my space uninvited, you get what you get.
Are you also with Solange on the hair thing? Let me know in the comments section