The exhibit consisted of three African-American women with different hair styles and textures standing on a NYC street corner with signs that read "You can touch my hair." And folks did! Complete strangers just walked up to them and stroked and fingered their locks. (See the video) Sooo... is that weird? Odd? Okay? Offensive? Being culturally aware or insensitive? I'm still coming to a conclusion.
The idea of it being an "exhibit" kinda doesn't set right with me and it's hard to put a finger on the reason why. But I think it, to me, seems to be comparable to a petting zoo. I take my kids to the National Zoo and there's a section where there are farm animals that you can touch and poke (okay, you aren't supposed to poke them) and the kids always ooh! and ahh! and hmmm! as they rub their hands over the cows and goats and sheep, fascinated by the feel and texture of the fur on the animals. And this "touch my hair" thing seems akin to that. *The concept of the touching, not equating the women AT ALL to the animals (I know folks can get things twisted).
|You can touch this hair since it doesn't belong to anyone right now. (J. Flair Hair)|
When I went to get my hair done (a rare occurrence for me), the make-up artist in the salon had these long beautiful dreadlocks. As the subject was hair, we started talking about maintaining different styles and I did ask her a bunch of questions about her locks. How long did it take to grow them to their current length, how does she wash them, how or if she would ever take them out. I'm always curious about locks because it's a style that I will never have; I don't think my hair will hold.
On another day, I met Jennifer from J. Flair Hair (Philadelphia) at her vendor booth at an event, with her weave products on the table, so this I took as the perfect opportunity to ask every question I had about weaves. Where'd the hair come from, how one selected a hair type, how did it get sewn in, how long did it last, how did you wash and style it. And she gave me the most complete, best answers, so much so that I was contemplating sitting right down in front of her and getting a weave myself. Every question I could think of, I asked her. But that was her business, that's what she did for a living. I wouldn't have just walked up to her and asked her if she had a weave and could I touch her hair.
|Jennifer - yes, she has a weave and can sew one in for you, too!|
I didn't see the exhibit, nor have I spoken with Ms. Opiah, but you can read more on how she came up with the idea for this exhibit in her own words.