Don’t Touch My Hair...Unless I Tell You To

Hey--is my mic on? Good; I have a few things to get off my chest. To the surprise of literally no one, 2020 started ugly and it only got uglier. It’s been more than rough for everyone. This year didn’t stop at a global health pandemic and losing some of our most beloved icons; it threw in an extra helping of crazy ahhh weather too. It’s been ghastly, but like sex, life requires patience. Let’s all collectively breathe and agree to look at this from a different angle. Maybe there’s still some time for us to learn something this year. If you’ve read any of my previous work on this site, you know I’m pretty vocal about my experiences as a Black womxn. I have my reasons. One: writing 101 tells us to write what we know. It just so happens that what I know is so severely underrepresented that the few brave soldiers riding for the cause stick out like sore thumbs. But also, being a Black womxn is dope! One of the dopest things about it is the realization that while my culture is unique and very intersectional, our empathy usually comes from a place of shared cultural experiences. So, when I learned that a former classmate I considered a white womxn used Cantu products and wore a silk bonnet to bed, I was shooketh! Look at that, we all have our secret beauty rituals dedicated to protecting and pleading with our hair to be easier to manage. I know what my answer is, but let me ask you this: who are we managing our hair for? It’s OK to get your hair done to look good for somebody, but here’s my challenge: normalize whatever tf you have to do to feel good for YOU no matter who you’re around. Sex is suppose to be about intimacy. Want to see an intimate moment? Lemme get my bonnet. All people have their things, but again, I can best speak from my personal experience. As a Black womxn, I’ve had a lot of weird sexual and intimate encounters surrounding my hair. What might be a curiosity for you is an extension of my body. So, here’s the article you’ve always wanted on how to show appreciation to Black womxn and their hair. Instead of shaming ya girl for a wig slip or a wave cap, make the sex space comfortable, inviting, and culturally supportive for everyone involved. In case you still don’t know what I’m talking about, here are some tips in making a Black femme sex partner more comfortable around you and your fingers that are dying to get in that hair. 


Let’s Start Here; Ask Them for Consent 

You know how I feel about this. The best and probably quickest way to get to hairplay is to ask the person you’re intimate with. I’m weird about hands in my hair, but I have my reasons! For once, I treat skin and hair care as a serious part of my radical self-care. The oils and treatments applied to my hair to get that soft and feathery look I love does not mix well with whatever the hell you ate for lunch, my friend! I don’t want avocado bits in my hair unless it’s in a masque. I definitely don’t want any of your secret sauce in there either. Semen and other body fluids are not a part of my wash day. On some real stuff, just ask! Ask your partner what they’re into, and if the answer doesn’t please you... stop and question: whose body is this? Why am I uncomfortable with a choice someone else makes about their body? There might be room for some deep digging if you’re uncomfortable with your answers. If asking for consent goes well and you get the green light, hold your horses partner. Lemme school you on a few more things. 


Read the Body 

Let’s role play. Wind wisps through my curly fro, blowing it back and forth across my face. You’ve always wanted to touch my curls, always wanted to see if they felt as soft as they look. Now I’m here, ready for you and your touch pretty much anywhere. You can see it in my eyes, in the way I arch my back, curl my toes, curls again. You reach for them and for ONCE, I don’t recoil. I welcome your hands in my hair. I have prepared for you. Excited, you let your fingers weave through my strands, then yank hair and my head from the bed so hard my neck jerks like a rubber chicken. That escalated quickly. Well, it’s happened. It’s hair...that is attached…to my head. When you’re in there, don’t yank strands like they’re not living parts of me! Think of my hair like you would your ear. If you don’t want me tugging at yours, don’t tug at mine. Get it?


Create a Safe Space

OK. You’re doing good. You’ve touched my hair once. It was already out, and we were in the mood. Now, let’s say our intimacy becomes a regular thing. Let’s say we move past the sexy panties and cute outfits 24/7 into regular schmegular E. After work fell asleep on your couch with my computer in my lap, E. I wasted cashew milk nacho cheese on my shirt, but you still want to give me the business, E. When we feel comfortable enough for real intimacy, beyond what may or may not happen in the bed, when do I feel comfortable enough to let my hair fall out of the messy bun and into an actual mess without stopping and breaking the energy between us to groom in rushed secrecy in the bathroom? When can I feel natural enough to be...natural around you? It depends--how big of a fantasy is your partner’s hair? Is realness a part of that fantasy, or are you only infatuated with images of beauty standards Black womxn display in the media? Lemme simplify: do you want the inches and bundles but not the application of a wig? Do you want defined curls without seeing the bonnet and twist outs? These are real questions and concerns Black womxn have. These are the markers of progress I have in a relationship. No matter how cool we are, if I don’t feel comfortable caring for my body--all of my body--in front of you, we won’t make it.


Be Vulnerable Too

This should go without saying, but if you really want me to let my guard down, show me some vulnerability too! Be real with me, boo! In my last relationship, I felt the most seen when it came to comfortability and hair care. This wasn’t because my partner did anything grand or particularly transcendent. He just wore his durag in front of me. All the time. At first, I wasn’t used to it. I was a little offended. Like, I was doing all of this work to be “presentable” in front of him, yet he couldn’t be bothered to dress for me. Then I checked myself. That was a choice I had made about my body. He made a choice about his. Why were his choices more appalling to me than my own choices, the ones that were actively making me uncomfortable? That’s the first step of growth. The second was to apologize. And I did. I apologized to him for imposing my stupid beauty standards on our relationship. I also apologized for making him feel less than, no matter how unintentionally, because I wasn’t used to vulnerability. It was tough, but confronting my ego about someone else’s body made me that much stronger in enforcing my own boundaries. Yes, I love it when my partner massages my scalp and applies oils to my skin. No, I don’t like having hair I worked very hard on pleasing to feel violated by your dirty hands. Hopefully now you see the difference. It’s not that hard, and true intimacy is waiting.