Thursday, June 6, 2013

NATURAL NEWS: 'You Can Touch My Hair' interactive exhibit sparks online debate

Everyone has their thoughts on the whole 'Don't touch My Hair' debate in the Natural Hair world. While I'm not on the defense about people ASKING to touch my hair, I will get upset if you decide to peruse my curls without my consent. Really, who would touch any BODY without consent? It's not so simple for others and asking to touch a black person's hair has become a 'touchy' subject.

Participants let strangers touch their hair
In an effort to help people get passed the mystique of black hair, Antonia Opiah (, decided to stage an interactive art exhibit allowing passerby's to touch, caress, and fondle various styles of African American hair. Her, 'You Can Touch My Hair' event is being held in New York City's Union Square. She wants to break the curiosity barriers that Americans have for African American hair.

Antonia Opiah wrote in her Huffington Post article:
"To be honest I have a lot of questions about my hair, especially now that it's natural . . . . Black hair is unique. It requires different care techniques and routines . . . . in a country where we primarily see commercials for white hair products and magazines that mainly cover white beauty topics and TV shows that mainly feature white characters, we, and those curious about us, have to find information about our hair from other sources." (source)
Three hair types were on exhibit for today's event
Readers on my Twitter timeline were debating if an exhibit like this is even 'worth it'? Some thought it wasn't right that women, black women, had to put themselves on exhibit just for 'white people' to understand that our hair is just different. @WrittenByBene equated the movement a 'petting zoo' to help white people feel comfortable. Even on Opiah's website, commenters were not pleased that the event was planned and felt like it was an embarrassment for black women to subject themselves to this. However,  number of twitter followers were excited by the movement. Take a look at #YouCanTouchMyHair hashtag on twitter and you see opposing sides of this debate.

I'm still at a crossroads. Knowing what black people have gone through to attain our sense of cultural pride despite every attempt to take our pride away makes movements like this seem like a slap in the face and a step back. But, bridging cultural gaps and explaining cultural differences may be the only way to make America a better place. So, what do you think?

Hit the comment section below.

Photos courtesy of HairUnruled on Instagram
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