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Curly Nikki

“Hair Braiding, Miss?”

By January 27th, 2021115 Comments

"Hair Braiding, Miss?"


If you’re a curly-haired black woman walking down 125th St in Harlem on any given day, you will inevitably stumble upon traditionally dressed West African women soliciting you with this dreaded question. Though innocent and for most of them a necessary question for survival, these words have become the bane of my existence. Let me clarify one important thing – this post is in no way, shape or form intended to bash or badmouth these hardworking women who are simply trying to feed their families in this promised land known as America. However, I’ve grown to develop strong feelings about the ideology and societal norms that have conditioned them to assume that this question is harmless and only for their monetary gain. On the contrary, while they may not understand it, it’s a daily reminder and a setback to many natural-haired gals who unlike most don’t want “hair braiding” or extensions. We simply want…to be.

It was June of 2010. I headed uptown to Harlem in the early evening to cover a book signing for one of my new favorite authors. Upon walking into the bookstore on 125th St, I scanned the crowd, and my eyes stopped on an all too familiar afro puff; signature style of my good friend Nicki. We make eye contact and I rush over to greet her. As I walk up, she greets another diva with beautiful natural hair in a tightly curled style framing her face. Nicki introduces us and says to her friend, “Your hair looks great! I commend any natural who can wear anything but a puff. It’s all I do!” Her friend responds, “Girl, I’m just satisfied if I can walk by the African ladies on 125th street without them screaming out ‘Hair braiding miss!'” They both laughed and sighed. Somehow I thought I missed the joke. At this point in time I was rocking a long Indian silky weave so I had no idea what these ladies were talking about. Yes, I had seen African ladies on the street before but never had I directly been yelled at or solicited to get my hair braided. After all, it was already braided. Under my long Indian silky weave. For the purpose of this story, the silky weave’s name shall remain anonymous. Let’s just say I had a nice full head of hair.

Fast forward about 5 months to November 2010. The day after I locked myself in a bathroom and tore my permed ends to shreds saying hello to the “new” me. I walked outside and headed to the train station, only to find I had a few new friends. The West African ladies. “Hair braiding, miss?!” they shouted at me from the steps as I rushed off to catch my downtown train. Confused, I proceeded thinking they must have mistaken me for someone else. Eight hours later I emerge from the train platform once again in Harlem to find them yelling at me once again.”Hair braiding miss? Hello miss? Hair braiding!”

No! I don’t want my hair braided. I want it to flow free in the wind. I want my curls to hang low and stick up high. I know eventually I’ll need a protective style but for now, right now, I just want my hair to be free. It bothers me that there’s an obsession in the African and African-American psyche with covering up what naturally grows out of our heads. If it’s flying free, clearly something is wrong. If I’m walking down the street with my natural curls, I MUST be on the way to the salon, or simply having a bad hair day. But I’m not! According to me, I’m having a great hair day. All until these African women look at me with eyes of disdain and tell me different.

Tell me my natural hair is ugly.

Tell me I need to go under disguise.

Tell me that my curls are not cute and extensions are inevitable.

I don’t mind braids or weaves or extensions. And this is not a proclamation against any of it because if you check the records ladies and gents, I’ve done it all before. All I’m saying is, can’t I have a choice? Can’t I choose to be naturally me, nappy and free without being verbally abused by West African ladies on the streets of Harlem? Can’t my hair be “done” without having extensions or being bone straight? Can’t I just be?

Am I overreacting or does anyone else feel me? It doesn’t have to be ladies on the street. It could be your neighbor, your best friend or a family member. Does anyone else wish they could just “be”? Free of judgment and free of societal pressure?

Curly Nikki says:

Every time I hit the mall I’m stopped by the infamous ‘flat iron girl’. Last week, I went with my friend Nadeira and Baby G. As we approached the flat iron island, I could see the girl gearing up to recruit us. So when she muttered what I thought was ‘would you like to try?’, I replied with a very quick, and rude ‘no’. Nadeira broke out in laughter and said, ‘Nikki, she just asked to see the baby’. True Story.

**Updated to add:

I love this response by Anonymous 9:03 am:

See, I think Nikki’s response to the flatiron girl who asked to see her baby totally demonstrates how much we project and blame on other people. We use so many excuses about how other people perceive us regarding curly or coily hair, that we take everything as an insult.
Answering no rudely just says a lot about what you are reading into their attempt to sell you something.
I’d like to ask people if they get mad at the perfume and makeup people who are probably the most aggressive salespeople in the department store. Do you get mad at them and assume that they are saying that you are ugly and smell bad when they attempt to spray you with perfume or sell their newest lipstick to you?
How we respond to things says a lot more about us in many cases then it does to the people who are frequently harmlessly offering us a good or service.
And yes, I’ve heard that perhaps the African community isn’t so accepting of natural hair, but again, that doesn’t mean that I need to project all of that onto everybody, b/c I frankly don’t care if they find my hair to be pretty anyway.


  • chic noir says:

    They only ask me when my hair is lose. When my hair is in twist, they never ask me.

    *chic noir kayne shrugs*

  • Anonymous says:

    As some food for thought, here's another interesting article about the hair braiding situation. For those of you who do take these ladies up on their offer, be very careful. You never know:

  • Rochon says:

    I live in NYC and these women will say something to anyone who's hair is NOT braided, I don't think it has anything to do with a person wearing their hair in their natural state. When my mom and sister, who wears her natural hair blow dried straight to the point that it looks like she has a relaxer, visited me in NYC, they were met with the same "hair braiding, miss" greeting that I receive everytime I'm in Harlem wearing my hair in it's curly state. While this article was the author sharing her experience and how she feels, I don't think it has anything to do with being natural because those ladies come at EVERYONE.

  • Anonymous says:

    A lot of these comments on both sides are pretty bad. I'm not going to discount this woman's experience because it's how she feels. I do think she needs to realize that she may be projecting a bit.

    As a native New Yorker with an African background I take slight offense to many of the comments. But hey, that's me personally.

    I've been natural for some time now and I see with newer naturals that their hair suddenly defines everything they are. Sometimes I read things that people have experienced and I'm like 'Wait, that happened to me, was I supposed to be offended?' I get them hairbraiders all the time. I ignore them. It's truly not personal. They are simply asking if you want your hair done. Sometimes people actually go to 125th to seek them out and see who has the cheaper price. Now a lot of them are hanging around just trying to beat each other to the punch. It's rarely about thinking you hair is ugly and all that other stuff.

    My hair is sick. I know this. I don't need anyone's approval. I don't even see their looks because I ain't looking for no hairbraider and I've never been chased. They ask I say 'No' and I keep it moving. Same as when a man approaches. If I'm not interested I say 'No' and keep it moving. People will always target you for something. Until they approach you and call your hair some out of pocket name then you might just have to put a mofo in their place but until then enjoy your hair and start accepting you and don't let it define who you are.

    P.s. someone wrote that they don't yell to people with extensions or weaves. Seriously? why would they?

    Most people that are getting braided or weaved prep their hair before going there. Use a little common sense.

  • Anonymous says:

    Personally, I haven't exprienced the braiding situations but I have had my hair flattened by the "flat-iron" guy and girl and each time I sat down, some ignorant things came out of their mouthes. They both stated that African American hair is harder to straighten and was baffled at the fact that mine straightened with only one stroke and not multiple times. I truly feel that if you are going to be a saler you need to keep your biased opinions to yourself and sale. I think sometimes we base our reaction on what others reactions are. Not everyone is as innocent and nonbiased as you think when it comes to natural hair, we all know that and have experienced some crazy stares and comments from co-workers, family members, friends and even strangers, but that doesn't project who we are and how we should feel based on other peoples opinion. I think that we automatically are on the defense because of some past experience and don't want to be caught off guard with the bull and want to let others know that this is a choice and if I wanted it straight, I can wear it straight. If I want it curly I can wear it curly but let that be MY CHOICE!!

  • Anonymous says:

    "Do you get mad at them and assume that they are saying that you are ugly and smell bad when they attempt to spray you with perfume or sell their newest lipstick to you?"

    No, because they try to get everyone who walks by. When the African hair braiding ladies consistently scream about braiding hair to someone with straight hair, then it won't bother me.

  • Anonymous says:

    Wow what a debate!!, I live in NYC and constantly frequent 125th and it is not the asking that is bothersome, it is the agressiveness. When you are in a dept. store the salesgirl does not put her hands on you (i.e. literly pull at your clothing) to make a sale. She will not also chase you out of the store down into the train station to make that a sale. Some of these women are too agressive and a simple thanks, but no thanks does not always suffice. I treat my street hustler sisters with respect, but some of them do not take a hint. If you don't believe me, please come to 125th and you will see some of these women literally follow you into the Marshalls or the Starbucks on Lenox to make a sale. The sad thing is that if you do decide to take them up the offer,hear the some of the astronomically high price point for the style and the conditions of the actual "beauty" shop, you will shake your natural head.

  • Anonymous says:

    I cannot read anymore of this, it too depressing. I can’t take the negativity that being spewed from this blog entry. I have been natural for about a year and what it took me to get to this point in my life has really moved me spiritually. Ironically, this topic was post on my 40th birthday. Going natural coinciding with me turning 40 was so refreshing for me. When I see all this divisiveness going on with the sisters in natural hair community, I can’t help but think the whole experience of going natural should bring black women together and not further separate us. I’ve read most of the comments on here, I’m not going to reiterate, there were def some good points made. I do not want to be part of the drama, but there was one particular statement that I felt a little offended by that was made by Anonymous Nov. 29 @6:44 PM. What made your natural journey so much more authentic than mine or anyone else’s? I have seen this type of sentiment before in the blogs. I feel like other natural sisters should embrace their newly natural sisters. We all have different reasons for going natural; there may very well some individuals taking this journey for the wrong reasons. Who are you to judge, I felt it was very self righteous of you. If anything, you would have been the perfect person to offer words of encouragement to counteract her insecurities since your “Authentically” natural.

  • Arianna says:

    everyone gets strange looks i think, as we are all kind of pioneers
    usually i just boldy shake my hair around 🙂 but i always got intensely nervous around some women like west african, as they stared at my hair
    not all are like this however and if we're talking about people from Africa over here in North Cali there's a lot of Ethiopian/Eritrean and the majority wear their there hair like ours, just curlyness all over 🙂

  • Anonymous says:

    Please cry me a river. Not really sure why you're so concerned about salespeople… if you don't want your hair braided just keep it movin…

  • Annie Gracie says:

    I have had a similar experience with a man (Latino if it matters to anyone) pushing a flyer on me that promoted weave hair and extensions. I was wearing my hair in twists and at first I accepted his flyer just because it was no big deal to take it. But as I read it and thought about where I was in my natural hair journey I decided…HEY! I don't want this damn flyer! LOL…not that I have anything against weaves, extensions or any woman who wears them, I just never HAVE…worn a weave. I had braids a couple of times in highschool but that was it. When the guy passed me by again, I called him over and said, "HEY! You can take this back…I don't wear weaves! I'm ALL NATURAL!" and I had a good ole laugh about it! I even posted it on my Facebook page and had other folks laughing with/at me too saying…"Girl you are crazy!" LOL…a small part of me was offended because I felt that he gave me the flyer just because I'm a black woman and weaves/extensions are quite the rave for a lot of black women still. But the other part of me was just happy that I was confident enough to brush it off like no big deal in the end! 😉

  • Anonymous says:

    anon 2:30 pm again

    ETA: I would feel the same way if my hair was relaxed. I don't want random people aggressively approaching me about my hair regardless of the state it's in. So it's not a matter of being overly sensitive about my natural hair.

  • Anonymous says:

    I'm Anon Nov. 30 10:15 am:

    I am talking about wanting to wear my natural hair without being approached by a group of women and 1) these are women who also have kinky hair who probably don't know anything else to do with it but add extensions, and 2)I am not walking with a bag of hair in my hands and I do not care that it's the hair braiding mecca. I am going to work, minding my business and do not want to be asked on a daily basis if I want my hair covered up with synthetic hair. If that makes me a xenophobic house negro, so be it.

    But I do recommend you look up the actual definition on wikipedia, as it usually means Black people who are ashamed of themselves and their African characteristics. I don't look at other Black women, make quick assumptions on their hair needs and SHOUT THEM DOWN on a crowded street. And i'll tell you something, eons ago before i started taking care of my hair i went to those braiders in Harlem and also in Jersey City. I knew where their places were, and did not require a group of women standing at the train station to accompany me. I am guessing that is the case with most people who go to 125 to get their hair braided, so I even question how effective this aggressive "sales pitch" actually is.

    And I know an American accent when i hear it and trust, every time I have been asked if I want my scalp tortured it is not an American asking it.

    Also, if I lived in another country and noted how the locals there conducted themselves, I would not be so quick to be concerned with just making a dollar. But i just keep it real–I have no kinship with these women just because they are West African and as I also clearly noted, would feel the same way if these were Black Americans who have approached me. I've never had any other group of people other than these women literally run after me to get my attention, to ask me if I want them to do my hair. No one else has scoped me out like that, so maybe you should also be alarmed at these women who don't seem to understand that not all Black women want their hair styled with plastic, flammable fiber. Because I have walked back to the train with male and non-Black co-workers and lo and behold, they have sometimes gestured out to me ONLY (while I am busy chatting) with that annoying 'want your hair braided miss' whine of theirs. Someone up thread commented that she witnessed one of them getting punched in the face after being aggressive–i don't condone violence, but these women put themselves out there like that.

  • Anonymous says:

    I do not think they even notice that your hair is natural. They make money by braiding hair, and want to braid some hair (to get money). I lived a block from 125th street, when I was still relaxed) and was asked EVERYDAY if they could braid my hair. It really isn't that deep. Car salesmen sell cars. Realtors sell houses. Braiders sell braids.

  • Anonymous says:

    @ Anon Nov. 30 10:15 am

    The xenophobic undertone in your comment is very alarming.

    Instead of seeing yourself as American and "other-ing" the women (who are probably American citizens as well) as West African, please remember that you are all BLACK WOMEN in a "host" country that is trying to keep you down.

    Your comment is honestly borderlining the sentiments of a house negro.

  • Anonymous says:

    This post reminds me of an episode of 'Sex and the City' when Miranda was stuck in a dating rut and she ordered chinese food every night for a couple of weeks. The woman who took her order by phone always laughed and could recite her order just by getting her address. Miranda wa offended, so she went to the store to give the woman a piece of her mind but realized that the woman laughed with everyone over the phone while taking their orders and she was good at remembering what her customers liked. Miranda realized that she was judging herself and that the woman was just happy to have her business.

    I appreciate the African hair braiders becasue they helped me to transition to natural and keep my hair healthy.

  • Anonymous says:

    ETA and kinda off topic: I'm anon from today at 10:15 am, and I just checked out the author's blog. While i do agree with her re: her article, her "fierce or foolish" feature on her site is a style assessment of celebs in the news. Her commentary re: each artist is flattering, but the 'fierce or foolish' tagline is just as bad as women shouting her down asking if she wants her hair braided. It's more women judging women on how they look, just in a high tech format.

  • Chari says:

    I live between Malawi, Africa and New York, and right now I am living in Harlem. I have natural hair, and I have come across the women spoken of in this article.

    And yes, I agree that the writer of this article does need to get over herself. The reason I find this article offensive is because you proceed to bring down so many people all for the sake of your hair. You wrote that "It bothers me that there's an obsession in the African and African-American psyche with covering up what naturally grows out of our heads." Right there, you just lumped in 15% of the worlds population under one opinion.

    I have traveled around Africa, and yes, there are definitely many who have issues with natural hair. But, there are also so many who don't. And, in Malawi, hair braiding is just a common way of changing up your hair style. I do not know if it is the same in the whole of West Africa, but I thought I should share my own personal experience on the relevance of braids. When I see you talk about implications of ugliness, disguise and the inevitability of extensions, all I get from that is a strong feeling that you are overreacting on the matter, in a big and disturbing way.

    Those women are individuals who braid hair, not representations of a 'whole'. They are doing their job, regardless of whether they can admittedly be annoying or not. They don't hassle you any time any place all over the streets of New York City, they hassle you on 125th, a particular street known for hair braiding.

    You and your hair look beautiful in your photograph. There is no need to victimize yourself – be angry at aggressive business tactics, but please don't drag down so many for such displaced reasons.

  • Anonymous says:

    For everyone who wants to claim it's just natural haired women here being overly dramatic-guess you skipped over the posts where women with relaxed hair have been approached by these hair peddlers as well. It's not an 'Angela Davis' attitude if I am walking down the street minding my business, and in a one block radius have several women running up to me shouting, asking if I want them to "do" my hair. That is beyond insulting, esp. when you see the condition their hair is in. Doubly annoying when my own soft, moisturized, textured, good smelling hair has received compliments earlier in the day, but I need these chicks to make a quick assessment of my hair while they are crowded around the A, C subway line–and then come running across the freakin' street trying to chase me down..

    For all those who want to cry that we are being meanies, deal with this mess every day for several months and see how you are singing kumbaya afterwards.

    And I would say the same thing if these were Black American women. And we are all trying to make a living, but you notice how you don't see American stylists standing outside with Creme of Nature relaxer kits bellowing to strangers 'WANT YOUR HAIR STRAIGHTENED, MISS!'

    It's rude, ignorant and offensive. Period, and I don't care what is considered aesthetically pleasing in West Africa. If these women look around them in their host country, they would know it's not acceptable behavior.

  • Anonymous says:

    Whoa ladies! This article makes me question. What the heck are you so freaking sensitive about? Does this issue really bother you? If you were behind a lady with relaxed hair, I'm sure they would ask the same question. They are just trying to obtain business. Some naturals walk around with a chip on their shoulders always on the defensive about any and every little comment, remark, question, what have you, that you are truly missing about on the most important fact; to enjoy your hair.

    And in response to curlynikki's anon response, I agree. If you are always ready with a quip or rude response, people are afraid to approach even if to give a compliment or in that case see the adorable baby. Lose the 'Angela Davis' attitude ladies. It's not a reflection of the beautiful women we project.

  • drmsd says:

    I think you're being unfair Anon 5:15. As a person from an African country your experience would, and should, be much different from the poster. But isn't that what life is all about? I'm sure if the poster spent a majority of her time in any of the countries you mentioned, woman asking to braid her hair wouldn't even register.

    This blog is about sharing experiences with natural hair. Yes, the posts might be a little skewed, but that's to be expected.

    And I guess we have a lot of people who have never taken someone's comment out of context before. The rudeness doesn't contribute to the discussion. A simple "maybe you misunderstood" would have sufficed.

  • Anonymous says:

    All this is so sad. I am starting to question myself if I belong in this blog…
    I am not a fashionvictim like lovebronwsugar seems to be(I have had a look at her blog),nor do I appreciate her selfcentered points of view on this particular issue. If you have ever been to any country in Africa, you would know that so many people do not have access to a proper education.
    I am African, and have seen this too many times. And this is not victimism. It is just reality. Tolerance, is all I am begging for. Solidarity and Respect.
    Some beggers in the streets can be pretty agressive too, especially if they happened to be high, especially if you were a black girl with a funny accent, and I did lived in the U.S, (downtown Milwaukee)so I know what I am saying. That did not keep me from feeling bad for the situation they were going through. If you ever travel to Kenia, Tanzania for a safari tour, you would be "harass" by children in the streets, who would ask for pens, sweets, toys,,,etc. Would you be irritated too?. Would it bother you to get approached by agressive vendors in a public market in Tunis, Morocco, or Lagos just trying to sell any item?.
    If this blog is meant to be addressed only to AA women, then it should be stated clearly on it. If it is not the case, then I believe that posts like this one should be ruled out or at least seriosly reviewed.
    And a message for the poster: Try not to get irritated by these little things so easily. Life is great! And to Nikki: Let's search for bloggers and topics that bring us united instead of dividing us. Peace to all.

  • Anonymous says:

    In my opinion, it is one thing if you are trying to sell me your products, for example, as I walk into a salon or beauty supply store & you see I have natural hair. BUT it is quite another matther to be loudly calling, yelling, hollering, whatever the case, at me while I am walking down the street, asking if I want my hair braided. Whether or not you tack on a "Miss" at the end is NOT the issue, it IS RUDE! I don't want to be offered any service by ANYONE who is trying to get my attention by calling out loudly to me. I mean it doesn't cost a lot to make fliers or get some cards made & hand them out, goodness. It wouldn't matter if I was relaxed or not, I would find this particular sells pitch annoying. Also, I think the commenter who said that the original poster was being offensive was being EXTREMELY sensitive herself. Yes, we know that the African braiders are trying to make a living but SO IS EVERYONE. You don't get a pardon just because you are African or any other nationality for that matter! These shops make a lot of money doing black folks hair so if someone has anything to say any it, I should think it wouldn't be a problem if a black woman said her piece. It was just an experience she had, that's all!


  • Anonymous says:

    To all the curlies out there: NO ONE CARES ABOUT YOU BEING NATURAL BUT YOU! Stop creating all these imaginary haters and enjoy your hair…GET OUT OF YOUR OWN HEAD

  • Samantha says:

    When I was relaxed this would happen to me and it annoyed the hell out of me. It hasn't happened since I went natural. It helps that I moved just after my BC and now live in a town where my sister and I pretty much make up the black community out here in Western Massachusetts. We're both natural (all the girls in my family are natural actually) and None of the people who own or work in salons would know the first thing to do to my hair even though its no different then the heads of curly hair they work with on these Irish and Italian women. It doesn't bother me. I like playing with my hair and styling it differently and not being harassed when I go up the street to the grocery store. I don't miss the weave peddlers one bit!

  • Anonymous says:

    Oh man, I had the same experience constantly when i worked in East Harlem recently and it annoyed the hell out of me. These braiders congregate around the turnstyles, and yell out to you before you even GET OUT of the subway. Especially if it's raining.

    I wear my natural hair in a neat, textured bun. And you know what, I don't care that these women are trying to make a living. I'm sick of Black women's hair being a communal issue, that I can't walk along with my ear phones on, enjoying my loud music without some chick running up to me waving her arms yelling 'want your hair braided miss?". I also have replied rudely to some of them, and they look at me like I'm crazy. My co-worker has long locs and they would also ask her if she wanted her hair braided-so I think the criteria is simply being a Black woman with hair longer than one inch makes you a potential customer.

    If i want fake hair in my head, I know where to go, thank you. As someone mentioned earlier, I just want to "be", leave me the hell alone. Like I am going to be about my biz and suddenly decide, why yes, I DO want to spend 8 hours geting my hairline stretched back to my ears with too tight cornrows! Where do I go?! Please.

  • Anonymous says:

    @ Anon 11:43
    No I'm not in a dialogue by myself.

    I'm Anon 11:26 responding to Anon 11:16

  • Anonymous says:

    Is the anon dialoguing with herself? The timestamps being quoted are matching up on my end. idk lol

  • Anonymous says:

    @ Anon 11:16

    And you responding shows your no different:)

  • Anonymous says:

    HILARIOUS!! The fact you're so angry proves my point further.


  • Anonymous says:

    @ Anon 10:51

    Shut the hell up!!!! You writing your comment just adds to the cattiness!!! Calling people insecure!! Who the hell you suppose to be.

  • MommieDearest says:

    *Gets fresh bag of popcorn from microwave. Continues reading….*

  • Anonymous says:

    Reading the majority of these comments just reinforces my reasoning on how women are so damn catty! If you're so liberated through your natural tresses or the journey to embracing naturalness who cares if street vendors call out to you for your patronage? If you don't want the service then damnit you don't want it. Why does it have to be anything more than that? Why do so many women always jump to the thought that another woman is dissing them just because she asks something about their appearance? Perhaps, you're the one not convinced and therefore you're the one with the self-image issues. Rather than asking why you're so offended, you immediately assume there's more meaning behind a statement than what's really there. Get it together ladies! Stop blaming everyone else for your insecurities and cowgirl up! If you don't want a service, be it a flat iron, cornrows, or whatever, simply say no thanks and go on with your life. I guarantee the asking party is………..

  • Anonymous says:

    @ Anon 9:34

    Exactly!!! All this "you need to get over yourself" comments are ridiculous. Plus half of those comments are from women who don't live in Harlem or even frequent 125th street. So what do they know.

    Sorry but those African hair braiding women get no love from me. Why? You may ask. Well let me tell you. First off they just want your business. Second they can care less for the health of your hair.It's more about style than health. Those same women on the corner soliciting you for your business are standing there with 2 inches of receding hair line. Plus they use damn ace combs to comb your hair. Hello!!!!!!
    Like I said before, Ive been cussed out, chased across the street, and witnessed a few brawls. In my opinion there no different than Homeless people begging for money!!!

  • Denisse G says:

    @nonna i understand calling someone out but some ppl sound rude and that's my opinion.

  • Anonymous says:

    Is it just me or are we pretending that going natural isn't different from what we have been doing before? A discovery, a repudiation of the old way of thinking. Everyday more and more woman are not fighting their hair's natural tendencies. They are finding out what their hair can do, how they look and feel with their own texture. But more and more means that's not where people's minds started out. Isn't part of going natural giving the world a chance to see that curly is beautiful?

    I am sorry but I feel as though some of the comments aren't realistic or real. Last I checked, most African Braiding means tight constrictive styling. In fact, I have heard from lots of woman who have braids that they (braids) are a great style so that " I don't have to deal with my hair". "Deal" with it. Like it's a horrible chore that gives nothing back.

    Wasn't LoveBrownSugar saying that with straight hair no one said anything but with kinky hair she was suddenly a prospective client? Sure the ladies were trying to get new business and calling out for customers. And African Braiding can produce the most beautiful styles ever. But I don't get the vitriol. I certainly don't think she "needs to get over it". swoodward

  • Anonymous says:

    Lol I can totally relate to Nikki's flat iron girl story. I was in the mall the other day when a guy at a flat iron island tried to stop me and asked me how old I am, as if to say I'm too old to not be wearing my hair straightened. I was slightly offended but it could be that I took it out of context as many of you are saying. Idk. I think some people (including myself) become more self conscious once natural simply because being natural isn't fully accepted as a norm yet and expect people to think negatively and as a safeguard are ready to defend or say no whenever necessary, but there are also people out there that assume things about you because you wear your hair natural. I don't think there's a single generalization that can be applied to every hair encounter we have throughout our days.

  • Anonymous says:

    Alright I've never commented here but just had to. I too live in new york and am in Harlem every now and again. Whenever I go "uptown" via public transportation or walk on the street (versus arriving by car and just running into my destination) I am ALWAYS approached by the "hair braiding miss" ladies. I've only been natural for a year and a half and they were doing that to me when I had a perm. So I really think we're reading too much into it to say its a natural thing. They say it to EVERYONE. If you give them ANY eye contact they're going to say it. Heck, even if you don't. The thing is, most of my relaxed friends rock braids in the summer or when going on vacation, or just for a break. They rock braids more than any of my natural friends. I just think they are trying to make a sale. I got it (solicitation for braiding) more as a relaxed girl than in my newly natural state. It's harmless, really. Like someone else said, they say it to girls with braids freshly done.

  • Queen says:

    I think way too many brain cycles have been spun on this topic…Period. All in all, if it's that bothersome just stop one day and politely say, "No, no thank you I'm not interested but you ladies have a great day though!" Then keep it moving. Done and done.

    Simple and easy…… pass me a glass of wine 😉

  • Anonymous says:

    @Anon 10:01

    I totally agree…there is nothing wrong with trying to get new clients. But, to look at someone as though one has feces atop her head while trying to peddle your service is a bit much. Did I mention I stepped into what seemed to be "Weave World"?

    I know at that moment, sista girl was trying to be 'funny' because my hair was not straight; I was the butt of the joke. But, I was not upset…it's just par for course. My laugh let her know I understood her dig and I'm gonna keep it pushin! 😉


  • Anonymous says:

    There's a lot of vitriol here … as a Harlem resident who has lived here both relaxed and natural, I can totally empathize with the poster. Precisely because when my hair was relaxed, freshly done and flowing, I heard crickets when I walked past the African women. When it was messed up or I was wearing a hat, I got their calls. Now, when it's natural and out…I hear them calling out. So yes, they are trying to make a living and they do so by targeting women they feel are in need of their services.

    Sadly, that means you with the two week old blow out pulled back into a pony tail or shoved under a hat…and it might also mean you with the natural hair that you like and prefer just the way it is.

    And yeah, after my various experiences with their different reactions going way back in the day to when I was relaxed, I quickly came to realize, wow, I must be looking a little rough today. So yeah, it is a judgment. Yeah, it's okay to acknowledge feeling a little insecure when others are blasting you with their ideals of how your hair should look or what needs or ought to be done to it. We shouldn't take anyone's opinions personally, but as humans, we do.

    After four years in Harlem, I now simply breeze right by without skipping a beat or even acknowledging them. Because if they are soliciting people that might be in need of their services – I'm not the one!

  • Anonymous says:

    I strongly disagree with this post. I'm going to assume you really want the Carol's Daughter hair milk and had to post something, even if it's crap. I was with u right up until you start talking about tell me my hair is ugly etc. This suggests that u are insecure and u came off as self righteous. To put all those words in these ppl mouth who are trying to make a living.. I honestly can't wait for most of y'all to get ur perms again and leave ppl who just enjoy being natural for what it is and who are not defined or hold their identity and selfworth via it. The fact that u are a new natural is evident. I can only wonder why u chose this path… felt left out of the crew?

  • Anonymous says:

    Some of you guys really need to fall back with all the talk about "This isn't that serious" "you're just exaggerating".

    Half of theses comments are ridiculous. Some of you must not live in Harlem or frequent 125th street often. Those African hair braiding women are always trying to make a dollar hitting up anyone who walks by. Don't give me no crap about "their just trying to make an honest living", " There showing respect by calling you Miss" That's pure bullshit.

    I've been cussed out in English and whatever native dialect they speak, just because I turned down there offer. I've been chased acrossed the street just so they can hand me their business card. I've even witness an African woman being punched in the face by a woman because she wouldn't leave her alone. I'm sorry but whether there trying to make a living or not, It's really annoying that you can't even go from block to block, or corner to corner without them forcing their services down your throat. Plus half of them have jacked up hair on there heads with a 1 to 2 inch receding hairline. Why would I sit in their chair for them to do my hair. Please!!!

    @ Anon 6:09
    124th and 7th, Is that Greater Refuge Church you use to go to.

  • Anonymous says:

    To answer your question, for some reason, many of the kiosk girls/guys are Israeli. I didn't recognize the accent and Israeli classmates pointed it out. I think it is more than a coincidence, b/c I've seen it in a few states, spanning the country. And they are selling flat-irons, lotions, nail kits, etc. Always the same products but in different malls.
    I'm not personally offended by anyone trying to sell me a flatiorn, but I'm not sure what could be perceived as offensive or racist about a perfume girl black or white trying to spray me with perfume. But I could care less what anyone black or white has to say about my hair, and I'm not going to read anything into anyone trying to offer to demo a product on me. Who exactly are they going to try it on? People with straight hair? Bald men? I mean I think that people who are sensitive about their hair and take the offer as an insult will get riled up regardless of who is offering the service (braids or flatirons).
    Why is it divisive to point out differences among different ethnic groups? That arguments sounds like white people who say that blacks cause racism by acknowledging or talking about race. We are different in many ways and it's not automatically a fight to point that out-different food, different music, different languages, and yes, sometimes different ideas about beauty, and I'm not just talking about hair. I think many of us have been the outsider to a group of black people who shared our skin color but not our ethnicity-and I say that as a Black American.
    We'd object pretty heartily to a non-black person lumping us all into one box, so why get mad if we admit that we aren't really that alike in many ways.

  • KeepItMovingDotCom says:

    i think we can all agree to agree on both sides of the issue.

    With street vendors business is just business 80% of the time. We're still in a recession, right? Plus, vendors must be aggressive or they don't eat!

    Also, come on sistren! Hasn't there been a person or even a group of people who grate your nerves about your hair? It doesn't mean you lack confidence or have deep rooted angst…you just get tired of hearing comments or insuations from time to time. I know I do!

    I chopped my hair about three weeks ago and since then I have friends, fam and random folks asking when I'm putting in a texturizer on a regular basis. It's either texturizer, locks or braids. They're just used to it I suppose and I know they don't mean any harm but somedays I want to snap on them too!

    Let's move on to the next topic: Winterizing Your Hair…anyone else nervous yet??

  • Anonymous says:

    If these women were African American I wonder if this issue would be the same? No one mentioned the country of origin of the girl at the flat iron kiosk or the perfume counter.

    Or has the thought been considered that afro hair loose or in an afro puff simply makes you stand out from the crowd more and hence you are targetted more often?

    I live in london and am not from Africa directly but a statement was made in one of the comments that a poster heard west africans dont like natural hair….isnt the same true of African Americans isnt that why sites like this exist…im not sure why we as black people are so divisive…

    Just thinking out loud….

  • Anonymous says:

    They are trying to make a dollar. I lived in NY and my church was right on 124and 7th so I got the pitch ALL THE TIME. Even after church, dressed up, the ladies would ask. They know that someone, SOMEONE will say yes. It might not be you, but how will they know if they don't ask? Naturals rock braids too. They are not downing you, they don't know what you've been through. I just bc'd a month ago and braids, extensions, weaves are the last thing I want. I am learning and loving my hair, but they don't know that so I say "No Thank You" and if I'm not mistaken, they say "Thank You" as their response….. 🙂

  • Anonymous says:

    honestly i hear my aunts talk from time to time, they are just looking for business, if you have a perm or are natural, if it's out they have a service to provide to you…they have lots of my lil cousins to feed and entire families back home (west africa) to send money two via western union, hopefully you feel better one day though : /

  • Anonymous says:

    I understand but when people follow you around the corner in Harlem and you are by yourself… that is kind of scary. I can relate. lol. I've never been pressed so hard to buy something. Not even in Chinatown. Not even in Haiti (and they have an excuse to be more aggressive). I felt bad. I was shocked they were so aggressive, but I guess that's how competitive hair braiding is. *shrug* I'll just remember to wear a wig when I go to Harlem and keep the weave in my purse lol.

  • The Retro Natural says:

    I can't really relate but it's interesting.. I've had the flat iron kiosk experience and I politely say no but if they're persistent – if anyone is ever persistent with me – then I'll get a bit aggressive. I've almost cussed out some guy who kept bothering me to buy a cell phone when I said twice that I wasn't interested. The perfume ladies aren't too bad but they irk me too lol..each situation depends on your threshold for being pissed off as well as all the little things that contributed to your mood on that particular day.

    These ladies are trying to make a living though..can't knock the hustle but you do have the right to get irritated.

  • Anonymous says:

    OMG this is so f-ing dramatic. They'd ask you for hair braiding because you are black and most black women subscribe to the ideology that hair looks better when it's "extensionized", not because they are judging your hair. Even if your hair was permed they'd ask you the same thing. Do you get pissed that we are bombarded with advertisements for unhealthy foods? Or do you realize it's just capitalism?

  • Anonymous says:

    @anon 12:21 they probably did not say anything to you because 3b hair doesn't hold braids like type 4 hair making it harder to put in braids

  • Nonna says:

    @Natural Nini – it is not about being rude. It is about calling someone out for being self-centered. if she was saying they were rude, it's ok. if she is being egocentric about the whole thing – it's not ok. and the correct response is to tell her to get over herself!

  • Anonymous says:

    I used to live in NYC and used to be in Harlem all the time and during that time, even though I was natural, I used to wear my hair straight (blow dry/flat ironed) and used to get hit up all the time to get my hair braided. My friends who were relaxed were also accosted to get their hair braided, just the same. If they were wearing a weave, they wouldn't ask them to braid their hair. So maybe they didn't bother you b/c they could somehow tell that you had a weave. I think the bottom line for them is that hair is just hair, a business opportunity.

  • Anonymous says:

    Whew!!! it is getting hot in here. I personally, am not offended when ask if i want my hair done( I live in NYC) Actually it is not only in Harlem this is being done…Sometimes, on the weekend I purposely wear an Afro puff just to see and walk a pretty busy area in Queens and I am constantly being ask if I want my hair done ( weave, braided permed…whatever) it is called hustleing and I find it funny because I know it will never happen. Just say " No thank you and move on.

  • Anonymous says:

    Wait, so now the women are wrong for chasing down a woman who has a bag of hair in their hands? Overzealous yes. But not mean. You sound like exactly who they are looking for. I nmean, I can only imagine the joy I'd feel if I was a hair braider and I saw my target market segment walking down the street, plus she's acting as my supply chain too. Of course I'd be offended if she is looking for the service that I provide but won't give me any business. Might be a bit rude, but it's understandable. Why was that so traumatic? It's a recession and they are competing against a lot of people.
    Of course they didn't yell at you once you'd gotten it done. What kind of sense would that make?

  • Denisse G says:

    I agree with@ robin. You have to live in harlem to understand. We all understand they are struggling but it is harrassment too. If i had a bun or even freshly washed hair they would come up towards me. Sheesh if i wanted my hair done i would just go.

    Everyone that has negative comments needs to respect the author's opinion. Stop being rude its how she feels. Have some close to tugging your sleeves because you need your hair done – _-

  • Anonymous says:

    I'VE BEEN THERE!!!! OMG THEY WERE SOO VICIOUS :(. Wouldn't even help me. I had an appt with another braider and they wanted be to leave that braider and go to them saying "That's business". They wouldn't give me directions when I was lost. They literally ran after me. I AM NOT EXAGGERATING. I love Africans, but I was treated soooo horribly. I know times are hard but geezzz that was scary. I thought it was due to the fact that I had a bag of hair in my hands, but maybe it was because my hair was in a TWA too. Next time I was 125th (with braids..last wednesday). I didn't get one person to yell at me.

  • Anonymous says:

    "I am not my hair"…did anyone hear the lyrics?

    I've come to say "f…" these people; you don't like my hair–so what? I like it and that's all that counts.

    You've got to be strong so you can move on to what really matters in life…

  • Anonymous says:

    No, it is the same. The people at the perfume counter target people who are MOST LIKELY TO buy their products. That's why they spray it on women and offer a sample to men in the hopes that they will buy it for the women in their lives.
    The African braiders yell at the women that have in the past purchased their services. If the Koreans start making a run for braid shops(and Harlem for that matter), then word will get out and the braiders will yell them down too. It's pretty simple.
    I mean, it's why I wouldn't set up a BBQ truck outside a mosque or synagogue. Will I make many sales there?
    Am I better off trying to sell lipstick to a woman or a man? And am I saying that men are naturally better looking b/c I don't try to sell it to them?

  • Anonymous says:

    IMO This author is over reacting. Just because they say hair braiding does not mean you must have extensions. It could also be with your own hair!! I see these women as being aggressive sales people like any other and there is NO reason to take offence. There are times when I walked down a street and a shoe shiner yelled at me asking if I wanted the shoes shined. I usually ignore it if I'm not interested. If she's not interested, she should do the same, no need for a rude reply either.

  • iri9109 says:

    i didnt read the comments but you're over reacting. it wasnt verbal abuse. they're just trying to sell their service/product…people with natural hair are probably their target customers since alot of people with natural hair get their hair braided. they probably say the same thing to relaxed ladies with their hair out…why would they ask you if you want your hair braided if its obviously already weaved up with your long silky indian remy? you expect them to braid your weave?

  • Anonymous says:

    Those blasted West Africans trying to make a living!!! Why can't they just leave us Americans alone in peace with our insecurities instead of approaching us (WITH THEIR EYES OF DISDAIN) on the street? OH THE INHUMANITYY!!!!!

  • Anonymous says:

    What bothers me the most is when people suggest that I put braid extensions in my 4 year old daughter's hair. For what? Mind you, only the people who wear weaves and wigs 24/7 say this but still..don't try to push your own fear of the fro on my kid. She loves her puffs and her cornrows and buns, let her continue.

  • Anonymous says:

    I completely agree. As a native New Yorker I DREAD the trip down 125th street. The difference between this and the perfume counter is that the people at the perfume counter target everyone while the hair braiding ladies target only people who "need their hair done." Walking down the street girls with freshly relaxed hair can saunter past these ladies without comment, Implying that their hair is done and worn acceptably. Girls with extensions and braids are also allowed to pass unmolested. But oh no, let me walk by with my curly fro and I am chased down the street, literally. It really is disconcerting and something that I try to avoid as much as possible. The implication is simply that my hair isn't done, and it NEEDS to be done. Although I know that it isn't true and that I have spent a lot of time on my hair none of that matters when someone shouts you down the street. I always respectfully turn the ladies down, but the constant assumption that my hair needs to be done, when I probably spend more time on it than any person with a relaxer or extensions (with all the deep conditioners etc.) is trying to say the least.

  • Anonymous says:

    If weaved up AA women in the street were constantly asking this girl to purchase weave, no one would quibble with this article. This is no different. Yes, braided styles are traditional, BUT to act as though wig/weave/braided extensions/chewed-up permed hair are not efforts to hide/camoflauge our hair is naive. Simply b/c the ppl offering the services are African means that they don't have issues with W. African hair?? AU CONTRAIRE (anyone who says otherwise is either in denial or doesn't have enough honest convos w/ them). Food for thought…I'm African. Ppl in my family have 3b hair generally and back home you'd better NOT wear your hair loose. B/c, yes, it is viewed as unkempt (all hair type are expected to have nice braids- no extensions). BUT, b/c we're in the U.S., we assimilate and wear our hair loose. I walk up and down 125th ALL THE TIME. My frizzy, curly, waist length hair trails behind me (the definition of unkempt, in our culture). The braiders say nothing. They stare. I always smile (yes, I'm corny…I always smile at Africans when I see them). But, they remain mute; there's no "Hey, Miss" directed at me. My point is, if an African (3b) can wear her hair loose without being accosted, why can't any Black person with any hair type? So, I agree with the author.

  • Anonymous says:

    I appreciate everyone's thoughts and opinions, but if that's how certain posters/bloggers feel, that's how THEY feel. And you are entitled to feel whatever the heck you want…whether you agree with them or not. And I'm from NYC and find it downright annoying…sales person or not. Let me walk down the g'damn street in peace…Please and Thank You!

  • Anonymous says:

    Thumbs up to the author of the piece, Nikki and anonymous.

    Maybe we do need to adjust how we feel to make a change in what we project.

  • Anonymous says:

    I am new to this whole natural thing. I b/c'd a year ago, now I'm getting ready to start experimenting with different styles to get me away from the flat iron but a couple of years ago me & my bestie visited New York, while walking down 125th with our relaxed hair flowing in the wind, we too were "offered" hair braiding services by MANY African women out there. For the most part I assumed these ladies were just trying to make a living, but a small part of me also thought that maybe these women were targeting relaxer-wearing women & trying to get them to "hide" the straight hair…why else would she ask if I wanted braids when my roller wrap was perfect…so I thought!! Now I realize…unless they are shouting derogatory remarks about whatever style it is you are wearing while also offering braids, we can't assume anything other than these ladies are just out there trying to make a living!

  • Curly Film Chick says:

    @ anonymous 11:18am: never said they were hair enemies. And I wasnt really trying to say that they think you have to "hide your hair" but that is how my family is. I used to get annoyed by this but Im very comfortable with my hair so I brush it off, but I do understand how it can feel to have women shouting at you and that by far is the most annoying thing. If you live/work around Harlem it's constant daily thing and it slightly annoying. So I understand the author's frustration.

  • Anonymous says:

    Curly Film Chick, you work at that area, you have experienced the same "yelling",,,Do you really think those daily let's say "incidents" would be subject for a Curly Nikki blog?.
    I am trully convinced that this is one of the "big cultural gaps".
    African women do not braid their hair or use extensions for "hiding their hair". It is just how they have traditionally done their hair.
    In the beginning there were mostly braids or plaits, shaving, decorating with flowers, oiling and dying with natural herbs, among other procedures. Then the world changed and now it is very common in Africa seeing women with relaxed hair or weaves due to the Western Influences. However in the rural areas, women still preserve their traditional hairdos. Those poor women ae not your "Hair Enemies", they do not intend to be mean or offensive to the new natural afro AA women. For them it has no political or social meaning whatsoever. If you feel your hair style is acceptable, then it is. As simple as that.
    I am glad so many women on the CN blog agree with an African sister!LOL

  • jetblack says:

    omg dolly why are you on the internet unsupervised??? (yes im assuming a lot but still). Please don't put your real name out there. Please be safe on the internet. You sound very mature and well spoken and I am sure you can handle yourself. This is theoretically a supportive community and its hard to be a natural at whatever age but you never know. I wish you well thats all.

  • Robin says:

    I think that most of the women who commented that "it's not that serious" obviously don't live in Harlem. I've lived in Harlem near 125th for 5 years, and yes it IS that serious. These women harass me more than the men on the street. What my friend and I have noticed is that when our hair is straight and free flowing, we never get harassed for hairbraiding. If our hair is straight and in a bun, they begin to harass us. If our hair is our natural state, we get LITERALLY chased by these women and asked if we want it braided.

    I understand trying to make a living, but it's rude. If I wanted my hair braided, I'd walk up to you with a bag of hair. For you to chase me down, yelling for the entire block to hear, is harassment.

    I also don't think most of the commenters realize that this is way more than "the flatiron girl", as there are about 5 of these women on ONE block. Imagine the flatiron girl yelling at you every 5 minutes.

  • Curly Film Chick says:

    I actually understand exactly where the author is coming from. I work on 125th street (and grew up in Harlem) and every time I walk out of the train station or walk crosstown to my job, they all yell out "hair braiding miss" "excuse me!" "Hello" but it depends on how you are wearing your hair. If it's out and big they yell at me hair braiding miss. If its in a bun they say nothing. If it's in twists they say nothing. So I don't think she's reading too much into it. I personally don't respond to them because I dealt with this most of my life so it's not an over reaction. My family has the same mentality of natural hair has to be "hidden" in extensions or weaves or braids in order to be considered acceptable if you're not wearing your hair neat and curly.

  • Anonymous says:

    I couldn't agree more! I am only 12 but I go to a school where there are literally no black girls who have shorter-shortish hair who wear it out, they constantly pile on the extensions- I used to have relatively long hair when it was texturized but when I went natural and trimmed my chemically treated ends off all my friends even the white ones were shocked at my hair length- I had not been that shocked because I was used to shorter length and they never really saw it because I always braided my hair and they didn't notice the length. I experimented with extensions for a while before deciding to go all natural. Literally, within seconds of coming into school: I got asked: 'When are you going to do your hair? when are you getting extensions?'. I am not bothered to be honest but I know now for certain I am not going to get extensions to please them- ever, and not that I have anything against them but it's just something I have to commit to. A lot of girls at my school have misconceptions about black hair like 'only extensions can make it grow'.


  • Anonymous says:

    actually was this post even necessary waist of space if you ask me SMH

  • Anonymous says:

    Am I the only one to think that this is a bit of an OVERREACTION you get stopped all the time by people who are trying to sell you something. I think this author is kinda reading something deeper that what actually is its NOT that serious really!!

  • Anonymous says:

    sooo glad the flat iron girls don't harass me in the mall. they take one look at all these coils and pretend they have something more pressing to do… they don't want to work THAT hard 😉

  • Alexia says:

    Actually, historically in Africa afro puffs and loose hair was seen as unkempt. It was traditional to plait, braid or basically do your hair. I'm sorry I don't have direct sources but it can probably be googled. I think if you google the book "Hair Story." And the women being West African probably proves that she just thinks the same as that of ancestors.

  • Anonymous says:

    Dear Sisters:
    "Black World" is not limited to the States."Black hair concerns" do not only affect AA women.I am back; West African and proud of it.
    I cannot imagine my mother going to the bushes to get her vegetables in an afro puff or whatever style that envolves wearing your hair out or down. Just for practical reasons.
    Where do you think most of the protective hair styles come from?, you know the cornrows, bantu knots, senegalese braids,and so on (I do not know their proper denomination in English, sorry about that, but it makes sense, don't you think ?).
    Have you ever stopped one day and ask any of those ladies where exactly they came from?, how do they use to care for their hair in their countries. Actually you might get a real answer or even a friend, and realize that woman or any other African Woman on the streets of New York is not that different from you, after all. One day you might get tired of your dear afro puff and fancy a good hair braiding by the Street Expert Stylist, and end up with a good deal!

  • Anonymous says:

    I respond to the people with the flat irons the same way I respond to those selling lipstick and perform – "No." When I want to purchase flat irons, perfumes and lipsticks I will gladly walk over and ask for assistance. When I am at the mall I general want to shop for what I came for and be left alone to enjoy my shopping experience. : )

  • Anonymous says:


    I really think it was just a harmless offer just bcos ur hair is done today does not mean you might not want a hairdressing service some other time. I mean why wouuldn't they want a new customer.

  • Anonymous says:

    You really are overreacting. Just saying.

  • LadyV69 says:

    Look, I live in NYC and I've had African women do the "Hair braiding, Miss?" pitch. I actually get the pitch a lot more now that I'm natural than when I was relaxed. I don't pay it any mind, nor do I think I'm being verbally abused. It's not that serious. We live in a capatalist society. I can't blame people for trying to get their hustle on. A polite, "thanks, but no thanks," is all you need to say. As other posters alluded, they probably target natural women more because they figure we'll be more receptive to it. Nothing more, nothing less. If you're not interested, just keep it movin'.

  • LoveBrownSugar says:

    Wow, I'm loving all these responses – positive and negative! Just want to clarify again that this post wasn't meant to be offensive at all. Just sharing my experiences and hoping to provide some food for thought. Thank you guys so much for the feedback 🙂

  • Anonymous says:

    Great article! I can relate and I think many of the commenters can too.

  • kimmie0810 says:

    I'm cracking up at Nikki though!! But really, it's cold & flu season boo & people are nasty as hell so your response was still spot on lol. I am more offended that she'd ask to see a stranger's baby all out in the mall after she's been touching & frying random heads all day than I am about their guerilla sales tactics. Keep people away from Gia w/their filth!

    Anonymous 9:28–you're buggin. What the heck does having long hair have to do with braiding? What is "long enough"? People with long hair get braids. Maybe they wanted to braid/cornrow your own hair?

    I'm thinking a simple "no thank u" would suffice in these situtations. Save the snarky remarks for overly aggressive sales folks who cannot accept a polite "no" as an answer. Or those who actually utter rude remarks.

  • Anonymous says:

    Great article,one woman sharing her expewrience ans seeing if anyone else has had the same or can relate.That is is it no more than that! I agree with the article and can totally relate.

    I have a 1yr daughter who has tighty curly hair and i love doing wash n gos and i can tell people are thinking in their minds "why don't yiou do her hair"?

    Once i went somewhere and put her in a nursery for a few hours,i came back to get her and to my horror someone tried to braid her ,i couldn't believe the cheek and was so angry! '.'

    I asked the worker who did my daughters hair but they wasn't sure and i left it at that!I have since forgiven whoever the person was and pray nothing like that happens again.

  • kimmie0810 says:

    I don't see this as a big deal. They're trying to make a living. If I braided hair, I'd be more prone to solicit natural women as clients simply b/c I'd believe they are more open to it. Plus, from what I have heard from hair braiders, it's more difficult to braid "silkier" textured/straighter hair. So even though people with relaxers do get braids, they probably don't want to do their hair lol.

    How silly would they look soliciting a woman with a long indian weave for some hair braiding? They know that aint her daggone hair!!! And they probably also know how SOME women get about their weaves.

    I totally agree with what Anonymous 9:03am said. I've said the same thing: basically I think that some naturals tend to be overly sensitive about how people perceive/react to their hair. I don't give a damn! I never get compliments on my hair (except stupid crap about how curly it is & asking if I'm mixed which I don't consider a compliment) but I don't care. I had a FIERCE puff on Thanksgiving & was asked when I was going to comb my hair. I HAD combed it. The comb slid thru it like a hot knife thru warm butter b/c my hair is so healthy & well-moisturized NOW! I picked it out then wet my hands & added some moisturizer & created lovely soft fluffy curls for my puff. I couldn't have cared less what my ignorant cousin said b/c I liked it!

    Aggressive salespeople/vendors are HIGH on my list of irritants. But they're doing their JOB! They're hustling to eat. Those annoying flat iron women have a quota to meet & figure their best bets are with women w/curly hair. If they can tame a big head of hair in the mall in front of people, that's more sales. Who's going to oooh & ahhh over making straight hair straight? And being honest, we know all too many curlies have been made to feel bad about their curls. So if they catch one of Millionaire Matchmaker's clients strolling thru the mall feeling ugly about her hair, then they've got a customer for life! Can't knock the hustle!

  • Anonymous says:

    I live in NYC and also have been bombarded with the "Hair braiding Miss?" question from the subway platform (because they scout you out on the platform) upstairs to where the turnstile is located, to the streets. I have responded very aggressively, "DO YOU SEE HOW LONG MY HAIR IS WHY WOULD I WANT BRAIDS?!!" Now since I think about it after reading these posts, I could have just ignored them and kept it moving but I didn't and I must admit as long as my hair is I felt as if they were saying it isn't long enough or good enough and braids are still needed…which is silly. *Guilty of being just as obnoxious*

  • Anonymous says:

    lol at Nikki, hillarious! But I probably would've done the same thing, they stop me everytime I go to the mall too.

  • Anonymous says:

    As a Harlem resident I can totally relate to the writer's experience. I cannot count how many times I've actually gone into an African Hair braiding shop only to have them complain about my hair being natural. Several of these hair braiders have told me I should perm my hair before I get it braided…to make it easier for them.

  • Anonymous says:

    People will sell you what they have to offer. And they'll try to sell you what they think you will buy. Sometimes that is all that it is. I had an experience recently in a beauty supply store where the lady had a lot of the curly products, so when I went in there, she offered to show me things like Devacurl shampoo and conditioner. It's just a good reminder that sometimes what you see on the surface, that is all that there is. She owned a business. She sized me up. She offered me what she had. And had she not have curly products, maybe she'd have gone for the flatiron or the nail polish, but again, same woman with the same mindset of trying to run her business and make money. Sometimes that is all that they are trying to do.

  • Anonymous says:

    ugh! I so agree with Anon 9:00am. Why are we so up in arms?! This is one woman's experience, what the hell?! Let's reel back the negativity, it's not that serious.

  • Anonymous says:

    I mentioned before that I too am from NYC and they. Do ask EVERYONE, both relaxed and natural if they want their hair braided. Maybe the writer needs to look within herself to see why it is that she feld singled out. Maybe she isn't a confident as she sheems to think she may be. That comment wasn't meant to be a critical one. Sometimes we project our insecurities on to others. Just some food for thought.

  • Anonymous says:

    See, I think Nikki's response to the flatiron girl who asked to see her baby totally demonstrates how much we project and blame on other people. We use so many excuses about how other people perceive us regarding curly or coily hair, that we take everything as an insult.
    Answering no rudely just says a lot about what you are reading into their attempt to sell you something.
    I'd like to ask people if they get mad at the perfume and makeup people who are probably the most aggressive salespeople in the department store. Do you get mad at them and assume that they are saying that you are ugly and smell bad when they attempt to spray you with perfume or sell their newest lipstick to you?
    How we respond to things says a lot more about us in many cases then it does to the people who are frequently harmlessly offering us a good or service.
    And yes, I've heard that perhaps the African community isn't so accepting of natural hair, but again, that doesn't mean that I need to project all of that onto everybody, b/c I frankly don't care if they find my hair to be pretty anyway.

  • Anonymous says:

    Cue the boos, I agree with this poster. I'm in London and in a certain area (Burnt Oak) as you're walking past the braiding salons, ladies call out to me just as the poster described. However, they never called out to me when my hair was relaxed! So yeah I do find it offensive, and I do feel singled out. Don't bash the poster because of her feelings, she went to great pains to say she wasn't trying to cause offense but was merely expressing the effect it had on her feelings.

    p.s. Nikki, I've had the flat iron ladies approach me too…they also approached me when my hair was relaxed but I was rocking a roller set! lol

  • Tonya says:

    yeah, come on guys, she was just sharing an experience that she's had, that many of us (me included) can relate to. There's some truth to it. Can't we all just get along?

  • Anonymous says:

    Yeah, when I started reading this story, I thought it was going to come to a point where someone insulted a person who said no or walked past the braids.
    When you went past them with your weave, assuming that the hair braiding pitch wasn't directed at you, here is a really good reason why it wasn't, and it doesn't have to do with them finding your weave to be perfect. I've never had a weave, but my understanding is that they aren't cheap. So if you have a new looking weave, what are the odds that you'll take it out for braids. Any halfway intelligent business owner knows that it's silly to try to sell something to someone who already has that thing or a substitute that they aren't likely to part with. So seriously, what kind of idiot would try to sell someone with several hundred dollars of weave on some new braids?
    While some people do project and feel comfortable criticizing others choices, this was not one of those cases.
    I think that those ladies probably yell at anyone who has loose hair and who might consider braids. I'd venture to say that they don't yell at white or Asian women because they think their hair is perfect as is; it would be because those women are almost never going to get braids (aside from during Spring Break in Cancun). So why would they waste their time. If 99% of your customers are black women, then who would YOU yell at? If I'm selling coats in the street, who am I going to yell at. The guy with a coat or the guy without one? They aren't probably yelling at men for the same reason, b/c while I see men with locks, I can't say that I've seen too many with braids either.
    In most malls that I've been to around the country, there are now free standing kiosks that seem to sell a lot of the same things. One of the popular ones is a kiosk that sells flatirons. And yes, every time I walk past it, they ask me if I'm interested. But again, they say that to pretty much everyone because my straight-haired friends use flat-irons (daily in many cases) too. So again, I could assume that I'm the only one they yell at b/c my natural black hair is so ugly, until I remember what their job is. To sell flat-irons. Not to try to figure out my psychology and whether the offer of a flatiron will damage my pysche. Because really, a lot of people who don't have straight hair do choose to straighten it from time to time (myself included).
    If the food vendors yell at you about getting a hotdog or pretzel, do you think it means you look hungry (or possibly poor)?
    It's called targeted marketing and everyone, from the hair braider in the streets to the biggest companies in the world understand that it makes sense.

  • Anonymous says:

    well said Lala! Everyone has been so quick to judge her, the natural hair community can be a bit snarky at times.

  • LaLa says:

    It is uncomfortable for me. I think it also manifests my own insecurities about my hair. I always wondered if girls with relaxers also got the "hair braiding, miss?" question so thanks for clearing that up still … I dislike this as an advertising scheme. What girl really stops and says, "oh yeah, I was totally wondering what to do with the next 10 hours of my time."

    I think that your personal experience certainly resonates with me and I wish the community that you have revealed yourself to wouldn't be so quick to also fire back with snap judgements. Some of the responses I've read so far have been super dismissive and super judgmental. This is a lived experience that probably took some guts to share and I would encourage you all to look even deeper than the description of the experience and think about what feelings and pain can manifest from 3 simple words.

  • Kemberli says:

    I run into this problem but not with my hair. The infamous "eyebrow threading girl" seems to zero in on me. Even though I would say, "I just got them done." Once she responded very rudely "OH, you did??" Now I don't have thick eyebrows and they aren't long or unruly. When I get them done I only get a clean up. At the time I was a bit upset but now I think back and laugh because I know she was simply trying to make some money no harm no foul. That is the case with the braiding lady and the flat iron girl….no harm no foul. You must not take it personal.

  • Anonymous says:

    Ohhhhhhhhhhhh, come on girl!!. I am African, from the West Coast. If I were to live in N.Y, (which I will not for now), and I was able to "braid" hair like some of my fellow countrywomen do, and someone told me I could earn some few dollars for doing it, you can bet I would be one of those women, dressed in the beautiful African traditional outfits,which I love, yelling at you or any other potential client as they went through the 125th street.
    I personally (trying not to be biased, but I can't)respect these women for, in the first place surviving in N.Y but especially for having kept their traditional hairdo's (shich consists basically of braiding).
    And believe me when I tell you, they could not care less about the new kinky-coily tendencies; they probably have more important issues to care about.

  • Anonymous says:

    "Verbally abused" SMH are you kidding me? If this is what you think is verbal abuse, you must live a very sheltered life.

    Get over yourself! People are going to advertise to their clientele demographic…I'm sorry that saying, "no thank you," is too hard to do, but don't turn one woman's work ethic into a blanket statement about your natural hair movement…No matter what you perceive them to be thinking, the truth is that you are not psychic.

    And for the record, these women can braid YOUR natural hair without extensions too, have you ever thought of that? Did you ask them?

  • b. says:

    Been there! Man, I felt like they were harassing me, but I must admit I've thought about taking them up on it just to get a nice set of 'rows. Then I'd wonder…what kind of shop do they have? Will they try to straighten my hair to bits first? Do they braid really tightly? There were too many unanswered questions for me to hop up and just let a stranger braid my hair whom I haven't vetted first. (Vetting includes third party recommendations, not just questions answered in front of the D train.) I realized they asked nearly every Black woman they saw, but I felt like they singled me out especially hard b/c my hair is natural. Sometimes I wondered if they felt my hair needed to be "done", but I also realized that they probably figured I would be more likely to take them up on it.

    As for the flat iron ladies in the mall, I'd never ever had one even try to approach me until last Wednesday. She even asked me if my hair was natural; she must've done a little homework or ran into other naturals. Usually, the flat iron ladies see my big coily hair and look the other way.

  • Ru says:

    I hear what you are saying but I think this may be an overreaction. We are so quick to get angry at each other but the media bombards us with targeted commercials all the time to move away from who we are. To be an effective marketer one must have a target. They are merely trying to market themselves. I think the fact that they actually say "miss" shows a level of respect for a fellow black woman. I think we play the victim way too often and until we realize that we are truly beautiful we will always take offense to what other people do or say.

  • Lady Jaye says:

    I actually am very offended by this post. whatever you meant to do or not to do, it actually was a put-down to them and a very self-centered post – and completely unacceptable. And i hope it is not brushed off as "not as serious as all that." it is very serious.

    yes, they ARE trying to make a LIVELIHOOD! That trumps everything.

    They are NOT trying to tell you your hair is ugly.

    They are NOT "looking at you with eyes of disdain "

    They are NOT "Telling you that you need to go under disguise."

    They are NOT "Telling you that your curls are not cute and extensions are inevitable."

    Noone is forcing you – just asking if you want your hair braided.

    Maybe, just maybe if you could get over yourself for just one minute, you can see that as plain as day. My God!!

    You should not get a pass out of being self-centered and elitist and horrible just because you are natural. It is not a good look for anyone.

    This post has left a bad taste in my mouth.

  • Kellistarr says:

    Unless every single person that walks by is being solicited to get braids, then, yes, I'd feel singled out. I DO understand what you mean about just "being." No, I don't want my hair straightened, flat-ironed or braided. My hair is fine just as it is and I would not appreciate someone shouting their services at me each time they saw me.

    This has happened to me more times than I can count and I just chalk it up to what it is that African American women do to their hair, which is a lot of covering up. I've covered up with a relaxer as well, and now that I've "outted" my hair, it isn't the norm and when people see it, they either love it or want to get me into hair emergency! This can be deeply annoying, but I will continue to srut along, curly hair and all.

  • Anonymous says:

    I've too live in NYC and have walked down 125th street many times and have been asked if I wanted my hair braided. Whenever I was asked it was while I was still relaxing my hair! They ask every and anyone. Don't take it personal.

  • Anonymous says:

    I can relate…I don't think it's overreacting when you know it's directed toward a particular attribute that you possess.

    For instance, I had a supervisor who was very light skinned…I offered her a tan-in-a-can coupon! Hey…I did it with a smile. Ok, ok…she didn't like me & I didn't like her…but I digress.

    Once while waiting for my lunch order, I wandered next door, to what seemed to be a beauty supply; I had to check it out. Upon walking in, I realize it's a beauty shop that sells a few supplies. Every woman in the place stopped and looked at me…those getting hair done, those doing the hair. I kept walking to see the supplies…I couldn't turn back! LOL As I'm leaving, a chick hands me a card, saying, "In case you want to get your hair done." (By the way, I had a nice twist out goin' on, too.) I wasn't mad…I had to bust out laughing! 😉

    Could I have been offended? Yes. But, hey, people will say what they want; all I can control is my reaction.


  • LaMaraVilla says:

    Yea, you're overreacting . . . verbally abused? REALLY?????

  • Anonymous says:

    I think you may be overreacting. Seems like they just want some business. Nothing wrong with that. I've been walking past vendors who holler out what they are selling and how they will give a good deal. If you're not interested just keep it moving.

  • BB says:

    I really believe the 'African' women are merely looking for business. I really don't think they care about braids being better than free flowing hair etc.. a syou said in the early part of your post they are just hustling to live the 'American dream' This is making a mountain out of a molehill, I think.

  • Anonymous says:

    I don't mind the braids because I think those are in the natural hair arsenal and these ladies might just think they have more of a customer in those with natural hair than those who've chosen other options.

    But Nik, I am soooo with you about the flat iron kiosk in the mall!! NO! I don't want you to straighten my hair. I like my hair curly and big. Thank you very much.


  • Anonymous says:

    I used to hate it too, but I've come to realize it's not that serious as they're still calling out "hair braiding, miss?" when I clearly have freshly done braids in my head.

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