Among the various of things that people with dreads or super curly hair experience is the one of complete strangers touching their hair.  For these folks, not only is it random and at times a little frightening, it is difficult to come  up with an appropriate reaction when they occur.

Lustrous or different hairstyles, whether it be straight, curly ,wavy or in dreads, is often a delightful sight.  People want to compliment and discuss and in some cases touch it.  While most will just discuss or inquire, however, others will pull, tug, twist– you name it– without asking first.  Asking first, is the main thing people want you to do,  not putting your hand into their tresses while or before doing so!  Why are you surprised if the person seems to think you a little odd if you didn’t?

Everyone has their phobias and having random people touching you ranks high among them.  Consider if you please, that a man sees a lady with lovely legs or breasts, and just walks up to her and runs his hands over them.  He would be arrested and charged!  in his defense, he could say he saw it and felt the need to touch but he would still be charged and possibly be labelled a dangerous offender.  What makes it different if a complete stranger goes up to someone with nice long hair e.g. in dreads and just starts running their hands in them.  How does it differ?  What if the person is a germophobe or has anxiety issues and you just walked up to them and started acting as if they were in a petting zoo?

If you see someone with hair you would love to touch, consider what we were taught as children about personal boundaries.  If the person gives you intense eye contact and steps back;  you have probably crossed it.  It is uncomfortable for people to respond nicely if you invade their personal space.  This area is reserved for significant others, family, close friends maybe and hairstylists.   The only others who get into this space are invited or necessary as in the case of a doctor.  Some people even believe the other people touching their hair can leave a negative vibe.  I have people who collect their hair when they get it cut for this reason.  If a person turns unexpectedly and finds you reaching for them they might just attack you!

What I am saying is, ask first, and if you are given permission, then touch.  If the person refuses, move along.  They might have concerns about you disturbing their hairstyle or worse, ruining it.  Black ladies are especially careful with this–wouldn’t you be if it took you over 2 hours to get the style?

By Paula Barker,

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