Unless you are invited to touch it. I am slightly over the fanfare about my hair. To some extent I understand it, considering that whoever asks to touch your hair just may be sincerely curious at your beautifully laid crown and they have never encountered it before. I understand. Most television shows that air around these parts of the woods often show black women in weaves or relaxed (permed) hair.
To some extent, I understand the bemusement.
There is just a thin line between bemusement and disrespect and it lays in unspoken communication values like body language, eye contact, tone of voice and delivery.
It is one thing for someone to ask you about your hair, get in conversation about it then ask to touch it.
It’s another when you and your hair are pointed at and obviously spoken about. A lot can get lost in translation when there is a language barrier or different standards of etiquette values. Simply put, what may be normal to you may be offensive to me.
And asking me to be considerate and understanding AFTER being hurt is a difficult thing to ask. I can only do it to a certain limit.
It is worse when the hair toucher yanks your hair and doesn’t bother to acknowledge that you have a neck,let alone ears, hands or a mouth. So much can be misunderstood when words are unspoken.
A few girl friends have shared their utter dismay when their hair was grabbed whie walking down the street, waiting for a bus or browsing at their local 7-11 in Taipei. They all were enraged, shocked but all shared a similar private reaction; they walked away with tears in their eyes.
How does one react to that kind of personal violation? Sorry but the word ignorant is so overplayed in Taiwan, it’s funny.
At what point do some members of society learn about personal space, social etiquette and mutual respect? I do not expect anybody to go out of their way to learn about my hair, but a little bit more cross-cultural understanding wouldn’t hurt either.
Granted, where I come from I can see the children poking fun at Taiwanese kids.It is not right and I am against it and speak up against it at home too.
In one of my very colorful conversations, a fellow wine drinker said that it would get better for the Indians and Phillipines citizens due to the South Bound Policy. Fair. To me that translates as, we (some members society) are kind and respectful to those we value and think we need more. A global sickness, but it’s there nonetheless.
The next time somebody touches your hair without your permission, keep in mind that most people here, no matter how well travelled or educated they are or seem, don’t know anything about kinky hair. So yeah, people will stare and continue to stare even when you rock your weave, folks will still whisper and develop an itch to touch. FACTS.
It’s ok to get upset over it, exercise kindness and your right to say, “please don’t touch my hair”, “please don’t do that again and to anyone who looks like me, it’s rude”.
There is absolutely no need to get physically violent, although this may be going through your head;
The moment that you laugh it off or walk away without acknowledging what has just happened to you, it just may come across as a sign that you are ok with what has transpired in that moment and the hair toucher will do it again to another foreigner.
Thank goodness it is not all Taiwanese people who are over zealous hair touchers. Some could be innocently admiring your hair or your hairstyle.
There will always be few rotten apples in any box of apples but that doesn’t mean you throw out the whole box. Be patient and go through the entire box and there will be a few good ones.