Things You Shouldn’t Say To Someone About Their Hair

Hair is a touchy subject.

Am I wrong?

Don’t touch my hair, simple as that. Solange Knowles wrote a song about it, take a minute to go listen to it.

Those of us with thick or challenging hair is just trying to get through the day with the hope that our hair continues to do what we want it to do while we are in public. We don’t need your comments about how it looks unless it’s positive.

I don’t want to come off sassy but there are definitely things that bother me when it comes to hair and how people talk about it. You really can’t sit there and tell someone they’re being sensitive when you refer to their hair as hard to tame or nappy. For one, not cool. Two, do you get criticized about your own hair?

The point I want to make is you should think before you speak on someone’s hair especially if the texture is different than yours. Don’t make someone feel about their hair especially when they’re learning to love it. It’s hard with society’s ideals — you might not know that but it is. Straight-hair is supposed to be the norm but there are millions out there with different types of hair and trying to succumb to something that is presentable to everyone else.

One thing I will say is that so many of us are so comfortable in our hair and wearing our hair in its natural state and we don’t care about your comments or questions that are about our hair but at the same time, you have to chill on questions like this because they’re not cool and they’re offensive to some people. Why make these assumptions or comments if they don’t concern you?

Don’t invade our positive spaces with the negative and microaggressive comments. Let’s dive into some things you should stay away from:

Why’s your hair so big?

When our hair is in its natural state, we don’t want to hear you comment on how big it is. Or, how fluffy it is. That’s rude. Don’t you think so? I’ve lived through the days of people commenting on me having puffy hair in fifth grade which led to me asking my mom for a relaxer and to straighten it. Obviously, this was a little or the top but when people continuously pick on the style of your hair, you want to change it. I’m not saying that question is picking on a person but it doesn’t make anyone feel good. I’m not going to feel bad for having thick, voluminous hair in 2017. I might have thought about the people behind me my freshman year of college but now, you choose where you sit and if you sit behind me, that’son you. Just stick to not asking up questions about why our hair is so big or how we got it big. This is natural, hun. Love it or walk away.

It looks frizzy

Don’t you think this is rude? No one wants to be told that their hair is frizzy. It’s like being told their hair looks fried. It’s just not in good taste to make a comment like that because it’s a mean one, at the end of the day. If you’re noticing that my hair looks frizzy, I can guarantee that I already know and I’m worried about it in my head. Don’t add on to my worries but confirming that people can tell it’s frizzy. Most of the time, there’s humidity even if it doesn’t feel like it — trust me, your weather app will tell you. It’s bad taste to tell someone this. Natural hair gets frizzy, it can look frazzled but you don’t know the health of someone else’s hair so mind your business on that. Even if it’s your friend (and trust me, I have had tons of friends try to say this to me. wth?!), don’t say it. Would you want someone else to tell you that about your hair? Nah.

Can I touch it?

No, no you may not do this! I can’t tell you how many different people have come up to me and touched my hair while asking. I think that’s an invasion of privacy, number one. And, two, if we are not friends then absolutely not. Honestly, it’s equivalent to asking if you can touch a pregnant woman’s belly. How awkward and weird. Also, don’t refer to hair as it… it just sounds like you’re asking to pet a person. You don’t need to touch someone’s protective style like their braids or twists, you don’t need to touch their natural hair, and you don’t need to touch their relaxed or straight hair. I don’t know — some people are cool with it but if you have to ask and that person doesn’t know you, I would it’s a no. There are people that are going to be cool about it but more than likely, you’ll be reached with more people that aren’t. It’s just not the thing to say to someone. The approach is wrong. Instead, compliment and see if that person offers to let you touch their hair. To be real, it’s not really cool though. It’s a way that makes some of us feel like we’re a petting zoo so please remember that the next time you even think of asking someone to touch their hair.

Is that a weave?

Apparently, if a woman of color’s hair is long, it is assumed that it’s a weave. Yes, I’m honing in on women of color because they are the ones that usually deal with this question. If you deal with it, sorry for excluding you in this narrative. It’s rude to assume that someone’s hair is not their hair — although if they bought that weave, it is their hair, don’t get it twisted. You really just need to put yourself in that person’s shoes; would you want to be asked if your hair was real or not? How would you feel if someone had these assumptions about your hair? Or had this idea in their head that your hair just couldn’t be your own hair? It’s just in bad taste. If you wouldn’t want it to happen to you then don’t do it to other people.

Your hair looks (nappy/fluffy/poofy/negative microaggressive)

This is a no. Please don’t be that person that tells someone their hair is nappy or poofy or fluffy. We don’t have time for you to describe your hair in a way that is condescending. If you want to talk about my volume, ask me about it. Don’t ever tell someone their hair is nappy — I will constantly push this point. It’s a disgusting thing to tell someone. I’ve seen people comment on things like Riley Curry’s hair and state it’s nappy and I had a man tell me I had nappy hair before that had no business commenting on my hair. Nappy is not a compliment. My curly hair is not nappy nor fluffy, it’s curly, it has volume, and it’s the bomb. Nappy has always held a negative cognition and we don’t need you describing our hair as that. Can we just stick to your hair looks good?

Well, well, well good talk!Why touch on this subject?

Why touch on this subject?

Why not? It’s better to know what’s acceptable and right to say to people, right?

Once everyone has a better understanding of many things in the world, we can do better with the way we treat people that are different than us in many ways. People love to make comments and don’t always know that what they’re saying is wrong or offensive so let’s shed a light on these differences and help others do better.

If someone isn’t going to ask you these questions about your hair, you should stay away from them. Just do better and be better. Let’s stop offending and start uplifting.

Also, don’t touch my hair.

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15 Comments

  1. September 26, 2017 / 12:04 pm

    I just have to say that I can totally relate to your blog and agree with every single line you wrote. I think we have to expand on this and just include anything about how the person looks/dresses, is not for discussion. I find hair a touchy subject, because I always have what seems like a bad hair day, no matter how much time I spend on styling it, eventually it will look not so good. I have learned to embrace it and work with what I have. I love my hair, I love that it grows and is healthy. When I was younger I wanted straight hair, now I came to like what I have. It takes time and I know that my insecurities about my hair came from the comments other people made. So, yes, let’s stop making uneducated comments and let’s try to support each other, empowering each other.

    • September 26, 2017 / 2:16 pm

      Yes, girl!! That’s the exact reason why I would straighten my hair because people would make comments. I agree we need to empower each other and not drag each other down. We shouldn’t bring people down about their appearance, it’s just not cool. I’ve taken it upon myself to always compliment friends and co-workers because someone might really need it that day.

  2. September 26, 2017 / 2:32 pm

    My HR guy came up to me at work the other day and said “I have to ask. Is it yours?” and then proceeded to tell me about “another woman” (black woman) who his wife worked with who was “always changing her hair” that they both were just in awe of. 😒😒😒 can we get an HR course or a workplace etiquette course on how NAHT to talk to me about my hair?! 🙃

    • October 2, 2017 / 9:15 pm

      And the fact that it was an HR person?! People should know by now, like come on. But for real, a course should be a requirement. Diversity training or something where they know what to say and not say.

  3. September 29, 2017 / 10:38 pm

    Girl YES! The number of times that someone has asked me if my hair is “real” is UNreal.

    • October 2, 2017 / 9:15 pm

      People kill me! I hate that they think these comments and questions are acceptable.

  4. September 30, 2017 / 1:55 am

    Wonderful work. Please keep it coming.

  5. October 5, 2017 / 12:11 pm

    Sometimes I feel like the only black girl in the world who has never been asked if my hair can be touched lmao. But I can totally understand where you’re coming from. These points apply to life in general, people need to learn to mind their business! Great post!

  6. October 5, 2017 / 12:23 pm

    I definitely got asked the is that weave or can I touch it questions? This is just my hair and no you cannot touch. I don’t know where them hands been. They irk me with that.

    • October 13, 2017 / 10:32 am

      The touching questions drive me crazy! Uh, no. You don’t see me asking to touch your hair (them, not you lol). It’s just so weird, like its hair… chill out, people.

  7. October 5, 2017 / 4:21 pm

    I so agree with you!! I’ve received a lot of these questions more often than not, especially “is that a weave” 🙄

  8. October 5, 2017 / 4:40 pm

    While I want to believe that people say these things out of genuine curiosity, it is often negativity masked as curisosity. It’s a shame but I hope the bloggers like yourself and the natural hair community continue to educate others.

    • October 13, 2017 / 10:31 am

      Agreed! I know some people are genuine when asking but you can always tell when someone has a bit of a negative tone to it. I want to be able to educate, for sure! I know there are people all over with different textures of hair and no one should be shamed because their hair isn’t straight and “professional” to society.

  9. Sydney
    October 6, 2017 / 10:16 am

    I think I’ve lucked out in the touching hair problem because I transitioned to natural at an HBCU so my time with people who would ask things like that are relegated to my summer internships. But I do get the annoying “OMG your hair grew” or “you change is so much” whenever I get a protective style which is annoying to attempt to explain. Lol

    • October 13, 2017 / 10:30 am

      I’m glad they asked you those things! Those comments are annoying and I totally understand lol! People are starting to understand I think as we see more cultures utilize protective styles.

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