“Can’t Touch This!”

When I was at the library yesterday( yes AT the library after six months without being able to go there) I saw this children’s book displayed. It brought back several times in my life when touch was an issue. (No, I am not talking about MeToo, don’t worry.)

When I was pregnant people seemed to feel free to not only comment on but occasionally pat my stomach. I have no idea why. Somehow pregnant women seem to invite all sorts of questions and comments. I must admit that I fall victim to the same impulse, though I have never been tempted to touch another woman’s stomach. I do seem to blurt out things that are really none of my business such as “when are you due?” and “you look like you are carrying a boy.”

The book narrated by a little girl with big poofy hair suggests that people seem to come up and touch it without asking. She says they need to ask. Of course that raises the question of why they want to touch it in the first place. In this instance, probably her hair is unfamiliar to the kids around her and they are curious about it.

I had a similar experience years ago in a African-American women’s hair salon where I was waiting as a friend had her hair done. I was the only white woman in the place. As I have mentioned, I have very thin wavy light brown hair. One of the stylists came over and asked if she could touch my hair. Agreeably I said “sure.” She said she had never touched hair like mine and would have no idea how to work with it.

We are all curious beings. We just need to ask before touching.

23 thoughts on ““Can’t Touch This!”

  1. I suppose we are all curious people, Elizabeth. I would never touch someone without asking, not their hair or anywhere else. I was brought up in a very English manner and English people are not touchy feely at all. Some of my staff have found it a little disconcerting that I don’t hug them as hugging was very topical in the office.


  2. When I went to Egypt with my second wife, her hair attracted a great deal of attention. She had natural silvery-blonde hair, down onto her shoulders, and people in shops would just reach out and stroke it without asking. The local people all had very dark hair of course, but there was no shortage of Euopean tourists with blonde hair. Why they singled out my wife for this attention remained a mystery. I suggested they might have thought it was a wig, but never asked any of them why they liked it due to the language barrier. We had to learn to put a hand up to stop them.
    Best wishes, Pete.


  3. Your library is open? Wonderful! People do touch without asking (although not recently with Covid). It’s a natural curiosity, more so with children. Yes, we all need to ask first. I love your beauty salon story! 🙂


    1. Glad I found a chance to share it. When I saw that book at the library(which is sort of open with lots of restrictions and only books on one floor carefully watched over by two librarians)I remembered that afternoon in the salon

      Liked by 1 person

      1. It was the perfect moment for sharing that story. Our library has one floor open (not the children’s room) with heavy restrictions and by appointment only. Sigh!


  4. A member of our choir had long, very curly blonde hair. I longed to know what it felt like, because my hair had little curl but lots of body. One day I asked if I could touch it, and she said didn’t mind. It was gloriously soft and springy. I’m so glad she let me touch it.


  5. In 1969 I traveled to Crete, alone. Walking through a village filled with women sitting on their stoops, all with dark thick hair and black clothing, I was a novelty with my butt length platinum blonde hair. Everyone wanted to touch it, and then ask if my father knew I was walking alone!!


  6. Rightly said. But why just touching, I mean I am okay with questions about due date and all during pregnancy, but it really seemed awkward when people would stare at my belly while talking to me.
    Yes, I also feel it is difficult to make people realize when to stop being curious and how to go about it if they cannot stop. Asking would however do the trick.
    Children’s books are great. Have a great day😊


  7. around a decade ago, I wore a hair style aptly named “spikes” and I would make sure the spikes were there with a variety of gels, waxes, mousse (ran through a lot of brands) and people would come up to me and “touch my head” usually saying “oh I thought I would be stabbed…”

    now my hair isn’t “gel material” but like to day it has a #2 buzz cut all over it…people haven’t gotten too close to me – probably think I’m one of them “outlaws better left alone”

    our libraries have re-opened but during our lockdown levels, I found a e-books so I don’t truly need the library now…and actually not been in to stores much at all. Friday – Just Cuts for buzz cut, which was needed, almost thought I might need to buy gel!


  8. Lucky you to be able to enter your library – Our numbers here in Melbourne have dropped and stage 4 restrictions have been altered to allow ours to ‘open’ in the sense we can now click and collect holds from the lobby as opposed to having them couriered. It will be wonderful to actually choose a book off the shelf rather than ordering then waiting for it to appear.
    We lived in Singapore in the 1960s and little European children were ‘loved and touched’ (not inappropriately) by local ladies. Our girls loved all the attention and were forever being ‘taken home’ with the amah to be shown off to their family.


  9. We are very tactile, touch being one of our main senses. I do agree though, please ask before you touch!
    I have very fair freckled skin (though greatly faded with age) having been a natural redhead. While living in Penang in the 80’s, I was asked why I had spotted skin & firey hair!
    My daughter’s who both had different shades of red hair were quite the focus of attention wherever we went. My second daughter has naturally curly hair & I was called a bad mother by one Asian lady for perming her hair!
    When I replied ” no, no its natural” there was great awe & profuse apologies. As Asian hair is naturally dead straight. Yes, we are a curious people!


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