On Saturday, while enjoying a Mother’s Day pedicure with my mother and my daughter, it happened to me. I’ve read countless articles about other mom’s experiences, but I’d yet to experience it myself. Being that I live in the New York City and it’s so culturally diverse, I actually thought it wouldn’t happen to me. But it did.
As I was sitting waiting for my nails to dry, one of the nail technician’s who didn’t have a client came over and told me how cute my daughter was. I thanked her and then she asked, “Can I touch it?” Huh? I thought to myself. “Her hair,” the woman said. “Can I touch her hair?” Before long, there was a small gathering of three woman running their fingers over my daughter’s braided hair.
Now part of me wants to see the good in this. I get that cornrows look “cool” if you’re not accustomed to seeing them every day. I get the very rudimentary feeling of wanting to get a closer look at something that’s unfamiliar. I know, well at least I hope, these women didn’t intend to make me or my daughter feel ostracized.
Problem is, while they were gawking over my daughter’s hair, there was another part of me that wanted to say she isn’t a freak. Her hair isn’t some strange thing that should be behind glass for people to peer upon like an exhibit. It’s hair for goodness sake! And I’d rather you not have your fingers in it!
In retrospect, I probably should have said something, but I thought it would make an even bigger scene. And I didn’t realize how much it bothered me until my daughter asked yesterday why they were touching her hair. I told her it was because they thought her braids were cool, but part of me was wondering the exact same thing. “Yeah, why were they touching your hair?”
What’s crazy is, I have a friend whose son has gorgeous red hair. And she gets the same thing! Complete strangers coming up to her asking if they can touch his hair.
But I’m wondering, as moms should we embrace these opportunities and allow people to touch our children’s hair so they realize it’s really not that different? Or should we put our foot down say, “Heck no! No you may not touch my child. He/she isn’t some circus act and I will not allow you to ogle.” If you’ve ever been in this position, how did you handle it? If not, how would you handle it? Share in the comments.
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