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Curly Nikki

Sherida’s Puff and Airport Security

By January 27th, 202143 Comments

Sherida's Puff and Airport Security

By Sherida of Coconutandcream

Ghana is pure awesomeness. I just came back from The Motherland so experiences are still fresh as ever.

Before I went, there was a story going around the natural hair community of guards patting hair down at airports. I didn’t think of it as anything major and besides, all the stories I’d heard were from across the pond (USA), so behold my encounter!

Going to Ghana I had yarn twists in as my protective style for the month. Coming back however was a different story, I’d taken the twists down and was rocking a puff-thingy, I say puff thingy because it was supposed to be a braid-out. But everyone knows humidity equals frizz (at least in my case). My hair was matted and in dire need of a wash and detangling session, in other words, it was a boiling mess. As I approached the screening, there was a particular security guard lady with neat microscopic cornrows that had been eyeing my hair for the whole time I was in the cue. Whether she had good thoughts or bad thoughts I’m not really sure. Once I’d gone through the screening and proceeded to leave the scene, this security guard lady pulled me aside and insisted she pat me down for “security measures”. I obliged. Afterwards she looked at my hair and then back at me, I couldn’t help but break a smile because I knew exactly what she’d been thinking the whole time.

“Can I…?” she asked.

“Yeah go ahead” I replied knowing full well what she was about to do.

She stuck her fingers at my crown and moved it about my scalp, destroying the little curls that were left due to the humidity. For what seemed like forever she finally seemed satisfied and smiled. We both broke into laughter, I picked my things up and left still smiling at the whole thing. But I do wonder if I would have reacted the same way if I’d taken ages to do my hair and she messed it up. In this case I wasn’t looking too good so I guess I didn’t care. Maybe I should have been offended but I wasn’t, there was a certain warmth (no it wasn’t the weather) about the whole situation – We didn’t say anything to each other and we didn’t have to, I think my hair did all the talking 🙂

However I did walk away thinking ‘Have I just been weaved checked or was that an actually security measure?’

**Click here to read about the most recent ‘TSA versus The Afro’ incident. It hit the news earlier this week.**


  • katrina says:

    Hi Guys,

    I know this is crazy old, but I just wanted to add that wearing your hair in twists will NOT stop airport security from searching your hair. I took a flight from Dallas back to NY and after the full body scan, had my kinky twists searched. It was a bit annoying because, there were a lot of people who should have had their hair searched that weren't. And also, the search was pretty lame and non existent–If you're going to search my hair because you think I may be hiding some crazy suspicious item in it, then do it properly, don't just pat one side of my head and call it a day. Double Also, the agent didn't put on new gloves..gross

  • skinnypennie says:

    I went through the exact same thing just recently at Hartsfield Airport in Atlanta. It was quite amusing to me because I was trying to figure out what I could hide besides my bobby pins. The funny thing is I travel back and forth numerous times and this last time I had bobby pins in my hair and they didn't check me…go figure.

  • nparker says:

    i have a clever way to be done with all this anxiety over hairstyles going thru the airport security: just braid it up. One braid, or two braids. keep them braid til you are done with security then let them out. Just a thought 🙂 and yes i had a twa when going through security from London to NC state and a full on fro. I just braided it til i was done.

  • ACNimmons says:

    This is funny not because they had to search your hair, but because it's ridiculous. I remember one time when I flew out to visit a friend, I had magnetic clips in my hair to protect my pin curls during my flight. Since they obviously we're going to go off, the black woman who was in my security line did a manual scan. She never actually touched my hair though. I think this is ridiculous because do they search other women with long or thick, curly hair? I've never seen it. I can't even really get into this because it would take days but TSA is getting a little ridiculous.

  • Anonymous says:

    I'm all for racial and gender profiling. How many dark skinned female terrorist have you heard about (in any country).

    They really should let us just walk on by, and really frisk other people (especially if you look at the terrorism statistics). Frisking black womens' hair is a waste of resources, time and money and it shows how un serious, these people really are.

    People need to combat this w/actual facts and statistics (the FBI's own statistics). Another thing, you don't hear about any black female serial killers either. Society doesn't want you to think about this stuff because then you'll start seeing who the real violent psychopaths are. are.

  • Sophie says:

    I would let it roll off my back if TSA decided to pat my hair down. Black women are not really a suspected terror group, so if it's overkill maybe TSA agents just want something soft to pat after standing there all day! I hope my fro gets big enough to hide things in someday, but I will probably just pull it back snug when I fly!

  • Aisha says:

    TSA/Customs have been on Black women's tail way before 911, so we really can't blame it on that. This is just the latest. Honestly, I think a lot of TSA agents are just taking the opportunity to weave check and satisfy their curiosities about natural hair.

  • Pecancurls says:

    I intended to write "she may possibly be my long, lost hair twin separated at birth"

  • Pecancurls says:

    Completely off topic. Is that a picture of the author? I think she may possibly my long lost hair twin separated at birth (I just don't have her sheen going on right now :))I love her hair and was curious about her regimen.

  • Anonymous says:

    A Palestenian leader was killed a couple of days ago by an assassain who had hidden away in his turban a bomb. A turban that is, I might add, smaller than a lot of our natural hair.


  • Anonymous says:

    They pat down children. What in the world would make you think your fro is safe?

  • DiJah says:

    On labor day i was coming back from Jamaica and i had my hair out in a fro; their agent was eyeing my hair & before i could say a word she went on to tell me i needed a comb! When i asked her for what she said "because u need fi comb u hair". I was going to answer her but instead i looked at her baldheaded a$$ & laughed, and went along my way.
    when i got to customs and the guys were complimenting me on my hair, i told them thanks and also told him what happened earlier and he said "miss a jealous nuff a dem jealous cause dem no have ur kinda hair". That made me forget about madam no hair & also put a smile on my face because these 2 agents wouldnt stop complimenting me on my natural hair.

    Now…if they wanted to go thru my hair??? I dont know how i would have reacted, honestly. I dont like anyone touching my hair, so to actually go thru it? Lawdddd i probably would've missed my flight, not because i would be arguing but because i would love to know if the pat down, body scan and eye searching wasnt enough? If its a sista asking if its all mine, just ask…. no need to go thru it, i'll tell ya, but for anything else? *iCringe*

  • brunettefury says:

    LOL at anyone believing that the ridiculous patdown show is for the sake of national security. It's not making any of us any safer.

    FY, to the Muslim comment, Muslims have been constantly harassed and profiled for years since 9/11 and have been complaining about it.

    I bet they don't make Orthodox Jews remove their wigs to search them.

  • Aishah says:

    Hiding a razor in a fro…maybe. Hiding a gun…not likely. Your hair alone won't support the weight of the gun and it would have to be a darn big fro (more than the 3" fro someone mentioned above) to be able to hide the tape or whatever you used to hold the gun against your scalp. Plus unless I'm mistaken wouldn't a gun show up on the full body scanner or metal detector?

    Sounds like overkill to me. And if they are going to insist on such an asinine policy they should at least have the decency to apply it across the board. So the woman behind me with the big teased out 80's hair better get checked too. IJS

  • Anonymous says:

    I honestly don't see what the big deal is. Muslim women get their head scarves patted down and no one is crying racism there, but when it happens to a black person we are all up in arms. I'd be more apt to protest religious persecution and leave the "oh it's just cause I'm black and natural" argument on the curb. It's a moot point. And for the record, I could totally hide a razor blade or a Ruger .380 in my fro thanks to my "4a" texture.

  • Carla says:

    "Now what I want to know is, are they checking Sikh turbans and other headwraps? Just wondering…
    Anonymous September 22, 2011 7:00 PM"

    I've seen them checked – usually taken behind closed doors.

  • Anonymous says:

    okay, I know people are trippin about TSA checking big hair but I do recall a Foxy Brown or Christie Love or Cleopatra Jones pulling razor blades and a .357 out of a badass 'fro. I'll comply, it could happen. Now what I want to know is, are they checking Sikh turbans and other headwraps? Just wondering…

  • Anonymous says:

    I got fro checked by TSA in Dallas Itnl airport about a month ago.I was annoyed by it all because I had just walked through the FULL BODY SCANNER which is supposed to see dang near everything. I was never fro checked when I went through the usual metal detectors. I think this behavior by TSA is harassment, and humiliating and discrimination against Black women. I had been cleared by the guy reviewing the scans but another white TSA male said, "check her hair." the white female TSA agent looked at me and started poking in my hair. It was embarrassing. My fro is only about 3 inches high. What could they possibly be looking for?!

  • Anonymous says:

    I don't know what the policy is but I have shoulder length locs and I get my hair checked whenever I fly even if I've gone through a body scanner. I's annoying but so far the agents have been polite and as quick as possible.

  • Anonymous says:

    I have a problem with it! Why on Earth do you have to search someones afro or hair. I never hear of a Jewish person with a bushy fro getting their head searched. I'm flying next week and why do I have to have anxiety over getting my head searched! I think it is not right. They scan you with wands and you walk through detectors. Having an agent then have to put their fingers through my hair is just crossing the line. Yea I said it. I know people say it's for security and all but this has just gone too far!

  • Anonymous says:

    I can understand both sides of the spectrum. I don't think I want anyone rubbing their hands through my coils, messing up what I have spent time to create. Unless it's my husband. LOL! But on the other hand, 9/11 has made us aware that we can't take our safety and security for granted. It's surprising the measures that terrorists will take to catch us off guard again. I don't like what TSA is doing but I understand. Although, I do believe it is tacky and down right rude. I don't think it's a race issue because other races have been checked. Food for thought, I know times are hard and we all need our jobs but now we have to subject ourselves to checking people scalps and underwear. Wow!

  • Ashley Jane says:

    Idk how to feel. On the one hand I can see the TSA's point but on the other hand,I'm sure women with long straight weaves and wigs can sneak things in their hair too. I don't think it's a race issue its a texture issue because white women with curly hair have been checked too. In all I think it's rude. If they're gonna check hair, then check everybody's hair and make the scanners have the capacity to do it so it's not so invasive.

  • pinkgirlfluff says:

    Hmm, this makes me think. If one could hide a weapon in one's twa can one also carry snacks into the movie theater? That would save me from having to carry a huge purse to sneak my snacks in. HEHEHEHE. j/k

    What happens if you have a "personal" body piercing. Will they make you get naked and show them your Prince Albert?

    For all the skimming, probing, touching and such they need to bring back the honey roasted peanuts and miss me on the pretzels dang it!

  • Lorian says:

    I hear you…thank goodness I have enough length for a bun…but I'm left to wonder…who else has to worry about their hair before they go to the airport… . Then black women are looked at as shallow or vain when we worry about our hair before doing things that are common place to most. It's just another situation that has been unnecessarily created where hair will be an issue. And we thought letting our hair be would simplify such matters.

    Sorry…some may say I'm overreacting here, but that implies that someone is underreacting. So I'm picking up their slack. LOL…it's all love…I just want to be treated fairly and live my life!

  • Anonymous says:

    Good to know this is a thing that is here to stay. I'll not do my hair if I am traveling by plane.

  • Lorian says:

    @ Domino…it's not the people carrying it out that we are complaining about…it's the policy itself. No one has verbally attacked the agents themselves from what I've seen. We are talking about the agency itself. And with all the above mentioned methods that you described as ways to hide stuff…fine you're right. So then EVERYONE should get checked…straight, long, short, or curly. This is obviously a policy that singles people out. I'm appauled. I'm not going to be okay with it. They need to stop. I'm not a small minded person. I'm very careful with the word "racist", but this policy is, plain and simple. And it came about with no rhyme or reason. I feel like officials were going to find a way to make black people be terrorists in some way even though we were in no way directly connected to 9/11. I'm sick of it!

  • Anonymous says:

    As long as the check is an EEO:
    I want to see big blond ratted straight hair checked.
    I want to see folks with big wigs checked.
    I want to scarves and big buns under them checked.
    I don't want to be the only one in line whose hair is checked.
    And make sure as Rebwar pointed out that you use clean gloves after every hair check.

  • Anonymous says:

    LOL sorry for all the posts but she says this as well in regards to a question someone asked:

    "I understand safety but how is it that the body scan can see under my clothes but not through my hair? I do not understand that."

    Her response:

    This is a question I can tell you right now they will not answer because it's a part of the actual mechanism of the machine. Which they don't want anyone knowing, what's detected, how it's detected, and where it's detected.

    To give you somewhat of a clue, it's actually not an x ray machine per se. You can Google how it works, but it may not lend much info.

    You have men that wear hats because they are bald, and are embarrassed to take off the hat. At one point, we made everyone take off hats. This caused problems and they stopped making them take it off HOWEVER, if they refuse, they will be subject to additional screening. I've heard sensitivity complaints about:

    -Men who wear hats getting searched
    -Women who wear wigs because of cancer getting searched
    -Old ladies who wear diapers getting searched
    -Persons with prosthetics getting artificial limbs searched

    The list goes on and on. I can't say for certain if this particular officer felt a way about your hair or you racially. All I can vouch for is this is the nature of the beast for those that choose to travel via Aircraft in light of 9/11.

    I know this woman isn't the be all and end of TSA agents, but she seemed legit to me. Ladies…just get the whole story.


  • Anonymous says:

    Hmmm, She was already screened and preparing to leave the area…and then was pulled aside, by an agent that was eyeing her the whole time??? THAT WAS A WEAVE CHECK!!

  • Anonymous says:

    "When people go through security, don't they go through metal detectors? I don't understand why the scanners cannot detect dangerous/metal objects in hair."

    From the woman on facebook who is a TSA agent:

    "It's not necessarily "protocol". But the grey area is TSA has the right to search anyone with additional screening based on reasonable suspicion, or comfort level they have with that individuals appearance or behavior.

    The full body scan SHOULD have been enough. HOWEVER, you probably had a newbie that was afraid and wanted to go the extra mile to ensure, all was well. This is not the attitude or behavior or a veteran officer so please don't take it as TSA as a whole, just an over zealous officer. Now I have seen AA females come through with extravagant hairstyles done up in buns with locs that COULD conceal anything. As officers they just have to be sure. It's not personal OR racially charged.

    ALSO, If you came out of the full body scan and she checked your hair afterwards, the scanning officer COULD have called the area out for additional search "this is the person you don't see viewing the x-ray". Which has nothing to do with the searching officers call. To avoid any conflict, if your hair is that big, they should have referred you to a full body pat down off the bat to avoid all of this. In any case my apologies for your experience if you felt singled out in any way. From a former TSA supervisor."


  • Anonymous says:

    *stop demonizing these people


  • Anonymous says:

    @ Lorian – Wasn't trying to imply that a Black TSA agent = NOT racist. I just think that before we cry out racism or discrimination or woe is me for being a black woman we need to get both sides of the story and stop these people for doing their jobs. Also LOL at not being able to hide something dangerous in your fro because it will fall out. I think we'd all be surprised at the things people can hide ANYWHERE. Also, glue can also be use to keep it sticking in the hair.

    Now don't get me wrong, just like anyone in a small position of power some might take advantage or be rude or rough, but if they aren't asking you to strip and spread or handling your hair roughly then do it and keep it moving. Or bun/braid it up.


  • Rebwar says:

    This is a bit off topic.

    I'm not trying to be funny, nor disrespectful. My question is: Do women who wear wigs have to remove them when they go through security checks?

    I've never worn a wig, so I'm just curious as to whether items can be hidden under them.

    When people go through security, don't they go through metal detectors? I don't understand why the scanners cannot detect dangerous/metal objects in hair.

    Lastly, if I had to be searched, I would request that the TSA agent put on a new pair of gloves because I wouldn't know what they may have come in contact with while searching others. As long as security complied with this request (and did their best not to mess up my hair style), and I wasn't being singled out because of race/ethnicity – though I might be annoyed with the search, I wouldn't be upset.

  • WineGrrl says:

    My skin and hair get really dry in the airplane cabin, so I usually bun when I travel to avoid too much damage.

    Dealing with the TSA is annoying even on a normal day (taking off shoes, 3-1-1, etc.), so I guess I'll keep bunning.

  • goombagirl says:

    I think the hardest thing to be on this planet is black. The word ostracize is synonymous with black and over time that is what we've come to expect and we instinctively react to it regardless the circumstance, HOWEVER, there are times when the circumstance isn't personal-it's procedure. What is most unfortunate is that so many of us can't differenciate between the two.

  • Lorian says:

    Ok…but what can you actually put in your hair and bury it that deep that it won't just fall out or be sticking out? I think the TSA is overreacting. What event , other than black pride and a natural hair movement, prompted this seemingly sudden fro-check policy? They need to check every curly walking through, black , brown, asian, whatever. As long as they are consistent, I don't consider it racist. And just b/c a black TSA agent does it, it doesn't make it NOT racist. Even the tone of this article…sounds to me like we laught to keep from crying… I don't want to always have to laugh off things that make me feel like I stand out in the wrong way. They are just building up another fear factor…now black people are going to hurt your with their hair!!! If we're "relaxed" than they're relaxed. Gimme a break!

  • Anonymous says:

    I just posted on facebook that I didn't do my hair today b/c I'm going thru the airport. They get me everytime!

  • sInGLe iN tHE CitY says:

    When I was traveling earlier this year, I wore a scarf on the plane, to protect my twists. A female TSA Agent patted down my scarf at security. I didn't feel violated, she was very respectful. Unfortunately with the heightened fear in this country, these things are to expected. This type of stuff won't stop until we as citizen stand up and fight for our civil liberties back.

  • classCie says:

    With all of the craziness going on in the world today, I don't have a problem with them searching afros, as long as they approach the situation respectfully like in the story explained in this post. I know a lot of people won't agree with me but things can REALLY be hidden in them. I probably would be annoyed and it would make me feel uncomfortable but I wouldn't say it was "racial profiling". It's TSA…we all know they do too much most of the time. But the day something gets through that causes harm, ppl will say they didn't do enough…

  • Anonymous says:

    I've had the experience of my hair being patted down twice. On the latest pat down, I was travelling back from the UK. I had a fresh twist out, and although the TSA agent tried not to mess my style up, I was still a little annoyed and felt profiled. Does anyone know if they ask Muslim women to take their scarfs down or pat their scarfs? Or is this just a kinky hair thing?

  • Anonymous says:

    I'ma tell you what though…. those comments underneath the post about the woman who boarded a plane in DALLAS and was checked has my blood boiling right now.

    People are soo ignorant. And they hide behind the computer to make derogatory comments.

    It makes me want to pick my hair out and wear my AFRO as big as a cloud in the sky!!!!!

  • Anonymous says:

    There was actually a woman on a facebook page I'm a part of called "Natural Hair" that had a story about how her hair was patted down by a TSA agent and she felt like she was the victim of racism and racial profiling, she was going to sue,why couldn't they see anything with the full body scan yada yada. I thought she was overreacting and a natural woman who is also a TSA agent chimed in with the other side of the story. I can't remember her exact arguments, but they were reasonable and pointed out how ridiculous the woman was being. To ensure the public's safety (short of taking people's drawers off and searching in private crevices) who gives a crap if someone checks your fro for weapons. Half the women screaming RACISM wouldn't be doing so for a middle eastern woman getting her head wrap/scarf check, but touch my fro and "YOU'RE A RACIST!"

    Anyway kudos to the woman profiled for shrugging it off and having a laugh 🙂


  • Breanna says:

    Yeah that some stuff with the TSA, I guess you will either have to put in 2 strand twists or just part your hair and show them it's safe no weapons. SMH

    I saw that other lady on this site while checking my email and she talked about her ordeal as she is styling a ladies hair, and her hair is gorgeous.

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