Other people touching your hair

No one in my recent adult memory had asked if they could touch my hair until this past Saturday when Ron asked.  Ron is a new acquaintance and we were both at a Sacred Circle Dance training planning retreat in Byfield, MA.  Ron, an ebullient southerner from Texas who had recently moved from Virginia to Lowell, MA has been dancing for 8 years.  At a meal he said “I’ve (it came out as Ahhve) been dying to ask….would it be okay to touch your hair?”

Touching the President's Hair

I was delighted! Since I’ve been natural, no one has asked to touch my hair, yet I touch it all the time because I’m in love with its tactile qualities.  So of course I said yes.  And later when he touched my hair, I encouraged him to  press into it, to scrunch it so he could see for himself how unique and different and beautiful the look and feel of it is.

Touching or stroking the hair can evoke all sorts of emotions.  This is one touchy subject for many naturally curlies.  Essence.com just posted an article on it, No, You Can’t Touch My Hair.

At the same Sacred Circle Dance group, one of the women who I will call Kim (not her real name), arrived a day late so that she could attend her brother’s funeral.  When she told us her brother had committed suicide, I was speechless with compassion for her.  Ellen, our leader and my teacher, asked us to put our hands on her, a group touch if you will.  My hand found its way to her slightly wavy short gray hair and proceeded to gently stroke it.  I discovered it was coarse and wiry like my sister’s but also a little silky.  Kim began to weep when she felt the loving hands on her – touching, stoking, gently patting or squeezing her hair, arms, shoulders, hands, elbows, back.

I already knew the power of a loving hair stroke.  Years ago I belonged to a group of women, all childhood sexual trauma survivors who met monthly at each other’s homes to free write.  One of those days I was at Mereth’s home and I just could not write.  There was a disruptive energy blocking me. I couldn’t even stay in the room and went upstairs to lie down in a bedroom.  A little while later Mereth came up to check on me.  I was taking a tense, wide-eyed nap.  She sat down on the side of the bed and slowly and lightly stroked her palm down the side of my hair.  My tears came in a torrent and the disruptive energy was gladly released.

Hair is dead, yet there is immense emotion when someone touches or strokes it.  It is an intimate thing. Hair holds your energy aura.  Ron’s desire to touch my hair came out of  his delight with it, his curiosity, and his desire to connect with me.  Mereth’s stroking of my hair came out of empathy, caring and a need to comfort.  My stroking of Kim’s hair was done with loving intent.  I knew the power of it when done with love, and that is how I communicated my love and compassion for her deep pain.

When was it right for someone to touch your hair, and when was it just wrong?  What did both of those feel like and what was the toucher’s intent?  Talk to me, if you will.

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5 Comments

  1. You know, as a child I was told that I should not let people touch my hair and I just went with that thought for years. Now, I have to feel comfortable with the person’s vibe before I will permit them to touch it. As I think deeper on the subject I realize that people are mostly curious and it shows in their faces, their eyes or the way they ask…This subject brings to mind the movie “Powder” – one of my favorite movies btw – and the most recient “Karate Kid”. In Powder the movie, when Powder’s teacher stroked his hair or rather, his head, he cried cause it felt so good, and as Tamara Marie Mann so rightly put it – a release…I remember I used to take my palm and pass it from the front of my hair all the way to the back of my head as I held my head down…This felt soooo wonderful! When I was done I used to look very relaxed, like I was just puffin on some of Bob Marley’s stash – lol. Now in the Karate Kid, the kids kept asking Jaden if they could touch his hair – they were so innocently curious 🙂 So the question of if hair is dead how come it feels so good really is now a conundrum to me – food for thought so to speak…cause even though the statistics say it’s dead, I feel as if mine is very much alive, like it has a mind of its own – like trees in a forest or electric wires transmitting energy…am I alone on this one?? Does anyone else feel like this about their hair??

  2. So profound! I never thought about a total stranger touching my hair as a loving gesture. I believe as you explained it depends on the circumstances. When anyone ask to touch my hair, I’m always running thoughts through my mind, “Is my hair oily,” “will they wipe their hands after touching my hair?” I’m always sweating about what will the person think about my hair after touching it. I have never been comfortable with total strangers touching my hair. You have opened a whole new perspective on hair touching, however I still get uncomfortable when ppl ask.

  3. What a thought-provoking post. I’ve seen your posts on naturally curly and always appreciate the info. You have beautiful hair, no wonder he wanted to touch it! It seems so bright and alive.

  4. Uh…yes I suppose I do have strong feelings about people touching my hair. I’m surprising myself for opening up about this because it does evoke such strong emotion. Usually if someone touches my hair it’s with permission certainly. And I actually find it very calming and relaxing when someone touches my hair. I’m pretty wound up anyway, but the experience is somewhat of a release for me. Strangely, I can’t yet figure out why that is! You’ve given me something to think about.

  5. You know, I never thought about it as a loving thing. Usually when people touch it, they do it because it’s weird/usual. They dont care about ME they care about HOW STRANGE IT IS!! LOOK ITS MMAAAAGGGIIICC!!!111 I LOVE it when people touch my hair because they love me and want to feel better. I’m more likely to cry and let it all out because…well hair for me has a lot of memories. When I’m sad or angry or happy I tend to take it out one my hair-dramatic changes, ignoring it, etc. It’s like trying to heal a wound when someone is saying, “no, let me help.” It means they acknowledge my pain or happiness and what to share it with me.

    Sorry this got a little long, there are a lot of really interesting ideas here!


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