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.