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Biracial Woman Slams Random White Lady For Treating Her Hair Like ‘Petting Zoo’ At Store

Close up of mixed race woman with curly hair looking down

Setting up boundaries and adhering to them should be simple/

No means no.

Yes means yes.

Hands off. Stay back. Don’t steal.

Sounds reasonable.

And yet… so many people ignore the messaging.

Case in point…

Redditor pettingzoothrowaway wanted to discuss her experience and get some feedback. So naturally, she came to visit the “Am I The A**hole” (AITA) subReddit.

She asked:

“AITA for making a white woman cry?”

The Original Poster (OP) explained:

“I (F[emale] 30) am biracial.”

“My mum is Afro-Jamaican, and my dad is Irish/Ashkenazi Jewish so my hair is extremely curly, and I have a lot of it.”

“I usually wear it braided to manage the heat and humidity but tomorrow is wash day so it’s currently loose.”

“I had to pop over to the grocery store for a dinner party, but the closest store was out of what I needed.”

“So I had to go to the (predominantly white) suburbs.”

“On my way out, I feel something tugging in my head, so I whip around.”

“There’s an older white woman, maybe mid to late 60s, withdrawing her hand.”

“She says, ‘I just wanted to see how soft it is.'”

“Today was just not a particularly good day so I did yell at her.”

“‘Is there a f**king petting zoo sign pinned to my back?'”

“She immediately started stuttering and trying to explain herself, insisting that she didn’t mean any harm.”

“I responded by asking, ‘If you wouldn’t pet a dog without asking first, what makes you think it’s normal to stick your filthy hands in a stranger’s hair?'”

“She started crying, and other people started coming over to see what the problem was so I just left.”

“I told the story to my husband (white, M[ale] 42) and my parents (F 57 and M 67).”

“My mom is on my side, but my dad and husband are saying that I could have been more understanding to this woman.”

“So now I’m asking Reddit.”

The OP was left to wonder,

“So AITA?”

Redditors shared their thoughts on this matter and weighed some options to the question AITA:

  • NTA – Not The A**hole
  • YTA – You’re The A**hole
  • NAH – No A**holes Here
  • ESH – Everyone Sucks Here

Many Redditors declared OP was NOT the A**hole.

“NTA. This lady had no excuse.”

“At 60, you’re old enough to know that you don’t touch a stranger without asking.”

“What the hell?”

“It’s something children are taught from an early age.” ~ Ousmousse

“It’s not an age thing.”

“This person has probably always acted this way.”

“Plenty of younger people wanted to ‘boing’ my sister’s tight curls over the years.”

“And touch her stomach when she was pregnant.”

“You don’t suddenly lose all sense of manners or decorum once you turn 55. You respected people or didn’t your whole life.” ~ Laines_Ecossaises

“I’m a white woman, and half the reason I stopped wearing my hair curly is that people felt entitled to ‘boing’ and pull on the curls.”

“You wouldn’t touch a woman’s straight hair, so why mine?”

“It’s even worse for W[omen] O[f] C[olor] too.”

“OP is NTA.”

“It’s so uncomfortable and inappropriate.” ~ winterfern353

“My sister and I are white. Trust me, if she could have straightened her hair when she was young and afraid of seeming rude to strangers, she would have.”

“Just not possible with her curls.”

“It wasn’t until she was an adult that she started calling people on it.”

“I know it was a fraction of what WOC deal with, so it’s disappointing that OP’s family don’t have her back.” ~ Laines_Ecossaises

“Another curly-haired woman here, who has experienced strangers touching (yanking) her hair.”

“The 60-year-old was totally out of line.” ~ chumplady

“I haven’t really ever worn my hair long until recently, so I’ve been pretty free from this kinda thing, but I’ve been letting it grow.”

“I legit didn’t know this was a problem, and now I’m worried.”

“I’m gonna have a hard time not losing my s**t if someone yanks on my hair like that.”

“WTF is wrong with people.” ~ Lynnrael

“I work with a WOC, and we’ve had people grab her hair on scenes because they wanted to touch it.”

“I’m white with curly hair, but they beeline for her locks.”

“I’ve chewed so many people out on her behalf; it’s ridiculous how people think non-straight hair is a petting zoo.” ~ fionalorne

“I am a 67 white woman and I know better and most of my peers know better.”

“If you give senior citizens a break for bad behavior, unless you know they have dementia, you are being ageist. NTA.” ~ Skyvueva

“The phrasing doesn’t matter when it’s factually incorrect.”

“My 60-year-old mother would be disgusted by behavior like this, and so would every one of her 60+ friends.”

“It’s maybe behavior I’d have expected from my 89-year-old grandma, potentially, but people who are 60 now were young in the 80s and are significantly more socially aware than this.”

“Unless they’re actively choosing not to be.”

“Which happens no matter your age.” ~ loosie-loo

“I agree. I’m almost 60 and would NEVER touch another person without express permission unless it’s to get them out of the way of a speeding car or something.”

“60 is not elderly anymore, either.”

“The woman who touched OP’s hair was entitled and probably racist because of others.”

“People do this to a friend (black) and her daughter (biracial) all the time—but I don’t recall a single instance of anyone reaching out to touch my kids’ hair to ‘see how soft it is.'” ~ CreativeMusic5121

“I’m 62. This has never been acceptable. Ever.”

“It’s just basic human decency to keep your hands to yourself unless given permission.”

“To randomly touch a stranger’s hair, or any other part of their person is just beyond the pale.”

“OP is absolutely NTA.” ~ takatine

“I mean touching hair is super intimate and gross to do to a stranger, like to me that’s as disturbing as if someone said they were looking at my tattoos and then ran their fingers along my skin.”

“White people touching black people’s natural hair is enough of a problem that it’s a thing people commonly make jokes about.”

“I saw it happen to my ex gf all the time. It’s likely OP has experienced this before, which has increased how frustrated it makes it.”

“When I had blue hair, someone came up from behind and ran their fingers through my hair, and the sensation was absolutely repulsive and pretty scary when it comes from behind you.”

“I don’t think I can blame a person for having a visceral and emotional reaction.” ~ Sharktrain523

“People also love to touch pregnant women without asking too.”

“It’s extremely dehumanizing.”

“They are treating you like an animal to be petted.”

“I had that happen a few times when I was pregnant. People also could not stop trying to touch my hair when I had to wear wigs for a year.”

“I don’t understand how it’s hard to just be a normal human being and ask.” ~ nedflanderslefttit

“OP’s point about how it actually seems like more people are aware not to pet a dog without asking than they are aware you shouldn’t touch a human without asking is 3rd eye wide open tbh because she’s so right.”

“But also it’s really bonkers that she’s right because how did so many people end up with the mindset that as soon as someone has something slightly different from what they usually see about them it’s open season to start treating a human like an interactive exhibit at the science museum.

“Maybe if there were more of a chance that touching someone could lead to them biting you like a reactive dog then this would be less of an issue.” ~ Sharktrain523

“OP is NTA. Unwanted physical contact is unacceptable.”

“Is it possible that this particular unwanted contact was totally harmless and the result of factors beyond the other woman’s control?”

“Sure, it’s possible.”

“However, it’s almost never the case, and the consequences for being ‘nice’ about that sort of thing can be life-altering.”

“So, no, OP should certainly not be expected to alter what is, in reality, a perfectly reasonable response on the off chance that this elderly stranger happens to have a mental health issue.” ~ GIJoJo65

“NTA. You were right to yell at her – bet she won’t try that specific trick again!”

“And I love the petting zoo comment. That was lovely!!!”

“If it isn’t part of your own body, you don’t freaking touch it!”

“I mean, damn.” ~ Foggy_Radish

“NTA. Sure, you could have been kinder.”

“But letting people get away with that kind of behavior is the reason we still see them behave that way to this day.”

“I’m a white woman, and I wouldn’t dream of touching anyone’s hair (or pregnant stomach, or arm, etc.).”

“She was out of line.” ~ FlyingDutchLady

“NTA, I’m white but have extremely curly hair and often deal with people wanting to touch it, this is invasive and uncomfortable and you are not in the wrong for defending your boundaries and personal space.”

“We’re still reeling from a pandemic, it is okay to have a reaction to someone touching you without consent.”

“Could you have been gentler with your approach?”

“Maybe, but I still don’t think this makes you TA.” ~ Only_trans_

“I’m close to 60, and there’s no way in heck I’d start petting some stranger’s hair.”

“Not only is that not elderly, but it’s straight-up racist.”

“OP is NTA.” ~ PolesRunningCoach

Well, OP, Reddit is with you.

Sounds like your dad and husband need a little more education on the matter.

Nobody gets to touch anybody without permission.

Never be afraid to stick up for yourself.

Good luck.