How would you feel if a stranger touched your hair without asking? Well, that’s something to consider in this next story. An enraged woman took to Reddit to share an invasive experience she had with a stranger in a public place.
An Attack on Personal Space
After an adult woman grabbed her hair without consent on a trip to the grocery store, one Reddit user has learned that ‘personal boundaries’ really do mean different things to different people.
Gabrielle is a Black woman in her 30s. She is the daughter of an Afro-Jamaican mother and an Irish-Ashkenazi Jewish father.
While these details may seem irrelevant at first, you’ll soon understand why that isn’t the case.
Grocery Store Trip
On this particular day, Gabrielle was planning a dinner party, but since her local grocery store was running low on ingredients she needed to head to a different suburb.
According to her post, this suburb was “predominantly white,” which may explain what unfolded next.
Her Hair Was Out
Usually, Gabrielle wore her hair in more manageable braids, as heat and humidity are high in her part of the world.
Since her scheduled ‘wash day’ was the following day, she decided to wear her hair loose while out on her shopping trip.
A Strange Feeling
Gabrielle made a quick trip around the store gathering everything she needed for the party that night.
As she was making her way out of the store, she felt a strange tugging sensation on her head. She spun around, confused. What was going on?
The Culprit Behind Her
Standing right behind her was a white woman in her mid to late 60s. Her hand was hovering in the air, and Gabrielle realized that the strange woman had been touching her hair.
The woman was sheepish, and told her that she “just wanted to see how soft it is.”
The truth was that Gabrielle was not having a great day, and along with the inconvenience of driving across the city, this unwanted hair-touching was the last straw for her.
She blew up at the stranger and began berating her for the nonconsensual touching of her hair. What she did next would drive her to Reddit for advice.
Am I a Petting Zoo?
“Is there a ******* petting zoo sign pinned to my back?” Gabrielle furiously asked the stranger.
The woman was both apologetic and defensive, trying to explain her stance and claiming that she did not mean to bother the other woman. But she wasn’t having it.
This Isn’t Normal
She fired back at the woman’s excuses, saying “If you wouldn’t pet a dog without asking first, what makes you think it’s normal to stick your filthy hands in a stranger’s hair?”
The hair-toucher was overwhelmed by the unexpected response and began crying in the middle of the store. The scene began to attract attention so Gabrielle hastily excused herself.
Her Family Are Divided
Feeling shaken by the incident, Gabrielle shared what had happened with her family.
While her mother understood her response, her husband and father felt that she might have reacted too harshly. Shaken by this, she took to Reddit to get more perspective.
She Should Know Better
While many Reddit posts like this end up being controversial, with commenters torn over which party is in the wrong, most commenters supported her decision.
The top response even reassured Gabrielle, pointing out that “At 60, you’re old enough to know that you don’t touch a stranger without asking.”
She Needs to Be Taught
The commenter continued, saying that not touching strangers without permission is “something children are taught from an early age.”
Another chimed in, saying that while they thought she could have been kinder, she was still correct because “letting people get away with that kind of behavior is the reason we still see them behave that way to this day”.
A Touchy Subject
While this incident may seem like a harmless mistake to some, history might explain why Gabrielle was so upset by the woman’s intrusion.
Hair can be a sensitive – and even political – issue for black women.
Sensitivities around hair in the African-American community go back a long time.
In fact, many Black women were historically discriminated against for their looks, including their natural hair.
For some, having their hair touched without consent can be highly offensive.
Much of Reddit is already convinced that she was not wrong for losing her temper. But for some, she may have overreacted to what was simply an innocent blunder. Do you think the woman was in the wrong, or did Gabrielle take things too far in defending herself in this hair-raising scenario?
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Featured Image Credit: Shutterstock / Kateryna Onyshchuk. The people shown in the images are for illustrative purposes only, not the actual people featured in the story.