My son has curly locks. Like delicious curly. When he was younger they were golden and unruly! Now that he’s gotten older, the Italian in him has over shadowed the Irish and his hair has darkened to a beautiful brown — but his curls remain.
He’s the only one in our family with curls and I had a LOT of learning to do! As a matter of fact, if you ask him who he gets his curly hair from, he will matter of factly respond, “From the mailman!”
As we learned to care for his specific hair type, his curls just got cuter! But here’s the problem with cute curls: they’re a magnet for strangers’ hands. And I get it! For those of us without curls, we just want to admire the beauty of the unknown, the unattainable. But it happened EVERYWHERE. It wasn’t just friends and family, it was random strangers at Sam’s, Target, Walmart.
But here’s the thing, when you’re doing your best to teach your kids about body autonomy and the fact they have a say so in who and how they make contact, strangers feeling entitled to caress the curls was a major backslide. You could SEE his dislike, it changed his body language. It became a problem. So we started having conversations, reminding him he could say no, he was allowed to own the dialogue. He could request people stop touching his hair. This tiny reminder that he was in control of ALL of his body was all he needed! His life-force was recharged.
So now, when we’re approached by a hair admirer, instead of seeing him tense at the inevitable hair assault, I get to watch him take a deep breath and confidently say, “Please stop.” Or even, “I don’t want you to touch my hair.”
Reactions to his assertiveness have varied, but the facts don’t change; he has the right to both ask or tell you to stop touching him. And if that hurts your feelings, I’m sorry but I’m also 100% okay with it. I mean as an adult, I’d be totally weirded out if a stranger walked up and just started fondling my hair, wouldn’t you?