An art exhibit/social experiment that took place in New York last week generated innumerable discussions about the politics of black hair and personal space. "You Can Touch My Hair" presented by Un-ruly.com placed three models in Union Square Park in New York City holding signs that read "You Can Touch My
One of the models, Malliha Ahmad, offers her insight the exhibit.
video and transcript below:
Nicki: Hello, I'm Nicki. We're here to discuss natural hair. Yesterday that was an exhibit going on at Union Square Park in New York where three people held up signs stating that "you can touch my hair," so we're to find out more information about what the experience was like for Malihah. We want to know your opinions on it.
Malliha: It was a great experience. In the video you can see it can be a bit uncomfortable and overwhelming. That's because I normally don't let people touch my hair, but I had to step outside of myself and immerse myself in the experience of the social experiment of this art exhibition. And educate people and create awareness. We got into a lot of different discussions about hair regimens. We talked about textures. We talked about the taboo of black hair and different stigmas. We discussed so many things. We talked about the Huffington Post, Village Voice, and BBC Radio. It was absolutely amazing. At the end of the day, it felt empowering when I was done. It was something that I did voluntarily, and I'm actually happy that I did because it really stirred up a lot of stuff. A lot of people have been talking about this thing.
Nicki: We're read a lot of thing. They've been calling it a "petting zoo," and we've heard "slave trade" to name a few. What's your opinion on that?
Malliha: This exhibit got a lot of press, so of course people are going to have their opinion. We can't control that. Anyone who has something to say is completely entitled to their opinion. I support that, and I respect it. At the end of day, I don't believe that the "petting zoo" correlates with anything because I did it voluntarily. I wasn't forced to do it. I think there will be another exhibit coming on soon. There are a lot of pictures floating around, and people are basing their opinions off of the pictures which is a bit one dimensional. It's a really cool exhibit by un-ruly.com, and you will definitely get a different perspective.
Nicki: I have one more question. Can I touch your hair? Thank you so much for coming, and giving us some insight on what happened.
Malliha: Thank you fo tuning in. Thanks for all of the feedback. At the end of the day, hair is hair. There are so many other things to worry about instead of just hair.