The first time a complete stranger reached over and touched my below-the-waist hair I was speechless. Not only wasn't I expecting it, I didn't know what to say.
After that first unexpected hair petting experience I had time to think about proper hair touching etiquette. I also did some research on the topic vowing to be more prepared to handle unexpected strand stroking.
Hair Touching Extends To All Types Of Unique Hair
Hair touching etiquette isn't an issue limited to people who have long hair. It also pertains to people with any type of unique hair including braids, dreadlocks or big fluffy all natural curls.
Over the years I've made peace with the hair touching issue. My own hair has continued to grow and currently grazes the top of my hips. While exceptionally long hair like mine can be easily obtained with hair extensions, it's very expensive and not the norm.
The fact my own long hair is 100% all natural makes it even more interesting to people who see me.
Unexpected Hair Intruders
When unexpected hair intruders lean over and put their hands on my hair I'm always gracious. Afterall, it's the ultimate compliment to my many years of growing out my super long strands.
While touching my hair the admirers always want to know how long it took to grow my hair, what products I use, how often I shampoo, if I take hair vitamins and whether or not I get it trimmed on a regular basis.
If someone approaches me and ask for permission to touch, unless they look like an axe murderer, I always say yes. On the rare occasions I feel uncomfortable, I politely tell them no.
I'm not famous for just giving someone an evil stare. It's important to be open about your hair and honor your feelings.
Hair Touching Etiquette
Listed below are some helpful hints for those who wish to touch hair and those who have the hair being touched:
1. Be Complimentary - When you see hair you admire, politely say so. Be sincere and be complimentary. Remember that timing is everything. If the person you wish to compliment is busy or with other people, you may want to reconsider your desire to offer a compliment.
2. If You Can't Say Anything Nice - If you don't have anything nice to say about unique hair you spot, keep your thoughts to yourself. My mother always taught me if you don't have anything nice to say to someone, say nothing at all.
Just imagine how you might feel if complete strangers started to critique your hair or fashions without being asked first.
3. Always Ask Permission Before Touching - In some states and countries it's considered some form of assault to touch someone without their permission. If you see hair you admire, provide a kind compliment and receive a smile, ask at that point if it's OK to touch.
Whether the object of your hair admiration agrees or not to being touched, always be gracious. Some people hate having their hair touched under any circumstances.
4. Ask Questions Kindly - If you have a sincere interest in the hair, inquire if you might ask questions. If it's okay, be kind about your questions.
You have no idea how many people have asked me if my hair ever drags through my food while I'm eating (it doesn't), why I don't cut it off and donate it to a charity (my hair is highlighted and would not be accepted) or if I have problems using the restroom with my long hair (no, I don't).
5. Appropriate Hair Questions - I do love to answer questions about how often I wash my hair, what products I use, the hair vitamins I've been taking for years, the name of my stylist and my favorite hair accessories. I'll also explain how long I've been growing my hair and why I started growing it in the first place.
6. Avoid Asking For Hair To Go - While I've only had a few people ask if they could have a few strands as souvenirs, I don't ever agree. I personally find it a little creepy to have a complete stranger asking for piece of my hair.
Proper Etiquette For People With Unusual Hair
Etiquette is a two way street. I've learned to always wear my hair pinned up or braided to avoid shedding hair inappropriately in public, at a restaurant or around crowds.
I also don't wear my hair down if I don't desire unwanted attention. Additionally, since my hair is so long, one unconscious flip and I could inadvertently whack someone in the face with my tresses.
Playing with my hair, picking at split ends or brushing my hair in public is taboo in my etiquette book. All of those hair behaviors, in my humble opinion, are rude and inconsiderate to the people around me.
Summary - Hair Touching Etiquette
Etiquette is a code of behavior which delineates expectations for social behavior according to contemporary conventional norms within a society, social class or group.
Hair touching definitely falls within the realm of etiquette on both sides of the fence. Following a proper set of guidelines when dealing with hair touching issues can remove a lot of unknowns and demonstrate courtesy to all concerned.
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