“Is That Your Hair?” Rude Question or Harmless Curiosity?

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Hair, hair, hair.
As a self-proclaimed “hair chameleon,” I enjoy the ability to assuage my boredom by getting a new hair style. From black to blonde and back to black, bangs to an all-over even length, I switch my hairstyles almost as often as the seasons change. (I’m slowing down a bit because people are having trouble recognizing me. Eh.) The thing I do not love about hair is this one question: “Is that your hair?”

It usually begins with a “compliment” and then ends with The Question. I’ve encountered waaay too many situations where a COMPLETE stranger asked if the hair on my head was growing out of my scalp. As someone who is easily embarrassed and doesn’t particularly relish in being the center of attention, it annoys me and makes me uncomfortable. I’ll give you a brief rundown of my latest “Is that your hair?” encounters. Note: They all occurred this month.

Is That Your Hair? Questions About Long Hair, Natural Hair, Weaves, Hair Etiquette

Encounter #1: A male cashier–at a crowded grocery store–spotted me four checkout aisles away and yelled, “Girl! I’m living for your hair! Is that yours?!?!” *Cue Tupac’s “All Eyez on Me.”* The person ringing me up was taken aback and asked if I knew the town crier. I didn’t.

Encounter #2: I went to pick up a replacement E-ZPass tag. As I waited for the associate to register the tag, she exclaimed, “I love your hair! I want it! Mmm well it’s yours…right?”

Encounter #3: From the corner of my eye, I could see the woman at the register staring at my hair and then at me–repeatedly. It was as if she was mustering up the courage to quench her curiosity. As my change hit the bottom of the tip jar she blurted out, “Soooo is that your hair?”

Sigh. Unfamiliar people being familiar. Why don’t folks just stop at “compliments”?

Have I ever wondered if someone’s hair was growing out of their scalp? YES. When I did wonder, it was because I admired the thickness/length and cared more about their hair care regimen. Honestly, I don’t even wonder any longer. Did I ever ask the The Question? HECK NO. My logic is:

1. That would be rude.

2. If I have to wonder, then it is growing from their scalp or their weave/extensions installation is how it should be–FLAWLESS!

If I like someone’s hair, I give a mental kudos or say, “I love your hair!” PERIOD. In fact, there have been many times where I’ve simply complimented someone’s hair, they thanked me and then volunteered a heap of information about who did their hair, what products they use and–in the case of a weave–the type of hair installed. Some days, strangers compliment my hair, I thank them and we leave it there.

I asked two friends about this hair etiquette issue. One friend said she did not mind when people asked. The other friend believed it was tactless and added:  “People speak to other people as if they are leaving a comment on Instagram and with total disregard for how it may be taken.”

When I began to ruminate about this topic, I thought about all the other instances where it should feel inappropriate (awkward at a minimum) to ask if something on or near someone belonged to them. Outside of the blurred boundaries the general public and media have with celebrities, people generally don’t ask if your boobs, butt, teeth and nose are natural. I’ve never had someone compliment my car and then ask if I was leasing it.

At first, I was flustered by what I find to be an intrusive question. Now, I’m working on taking it in stride. Depending on the day, I’ll either give a blank look, a smirk, say “Yes” or “It’s whatever you want it to be.” However, the next time it happens, it’s very likely that I will ask the offender why they think they can ask me The Question.

How do you feel about the “Is that your hair?” question? Is it rude? Does it depend on the situation? Let me know in the comments!


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Comments

  1. I encounter this all the time! Most recently this weekend at the nail salon while waiting to get my eyebrows done this lady looks over to me and says “is that yo hair” and I looked over and said “no”. Lol. I usually don’t mind when women inquire about my hair but I always feel like there is a way to approach someone. I told my guy friend later that day that I thought she was rude as hell and she could have asked me differently, she didn’t even bother to say hi or hello. If I am curious about a women’s hair I will compliment her and ask by whom her hair was done and if she offers more information cool if not I keep it moving. Some people don’t mind sharing others do. I personally usually only approach women that look approachable. I also had someone ask to touch my hair this weekend, lol. That actually didn’t upset me because she was very nice and we were in an intimate setting.

    • I’m told I don’t look approachable soooo they are ESPECIALLY bold, lol! I don’t think it’s always well-intentioned either. You’re right. It’s about how you approach the person. You should allow them to volunteer the information. Even when it comes to clothes, some people will tell you who made their entire outfit and some people don’t want to share. No one should be put on the spot. The next person who asks will be hearing an excerpt from my post.

      Thanks for commenting, Shea!

  2. Great post! I’m in full agreement. It is so 100% rude to question whether someone’s hair is real or not. Your friend was right about how people speak ask if they’re leaving a comment on Instagram. They have little regard for feelings outside of their own. It’s a shame. I think you should start checking people. Let them know straight up, that’s rude.

    • I drafted this post the MINUTE I got home from the third encounter. I was beyond irritated and wished she asked BEFORE I blessed the tip jar, lol. But seriously, I don’t understand the lack of interpersonal skills! You’re right. I’m going to start checking people. I feel sorry for the next person who bothers me with this question. How rude! *Stephanie Tanner voice*

      Thanks for commenting, Candace!

  3. This rude and intrusive habit comes from a much deeper place. “Hair envy” is a condition that has afflicted black folks forever. Chris Rock’s movie “Good Hair” was bitter sweet for me because not only did it allow us to laugh at our way too serious obsession with hair, but it also exposed our insecurities about our appearance.

    Any way, the question of true or false hair is so redundant because we are truly living in a society where very little is real.

    If someone looks good, be gracious with your compliment. Period.

  4. It is very rude to ask someone if they are wearing weave in their hair or a wig. It is simply something you do not ask.

  5. I think that is a tactless question! Suppose that person lost their hair because of medical purposes…. Your personal health is absolutely NO ones business!!!

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