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Endia Beal’s “Can I Touch It?” Project

Endia Beal, a tall black woman with a bright red afro, endured a great deal of curiosity about her hair – so much so that several of her colleagues wanted to touch it. It seemed to be an unusual sight for them in this setting.

This experience led her to develop the “Can I Touch It?” project seen below. Middle aged white women were given “black hairstyles,” and photographed in a corporate portrait. Her hope is to be able to start a conversation about what is considered “acceptable” in strict corporate settings, and how this can differ across genders, races, and generations. Enjoy…x
Beth Lynn.jpg.CROP_.original-original-650x970 Charlotte Christina Christine Ellen Ann



  1. Robin McLean November 27, 2013 Reply

    Sooo sick of being defined by, or having to seek the approval of, “others” based on what makes them feel comfortable or feel cool.

  2. Erica Rice November 27, 2013 Reply

    Point is you can work with your natural texture and make it office appropriate. At the end of the day, no matter how “corporate” a job is they can’t tell you not to wear your texture. But they CAN tell you to neaten up.

  3. London Lee November 27, 2013 Reply

    Great study!

  4. Rah Channell Romero November 27, 2013 Reply

    LOL. Wow!!

  5. Holla Black November 27, 2013 Reply

    I believe, white ppl are captivate by our differences our hair our complexions, and our differences. Black ppl who all ready know u cant touch a sisters hair ask, can I touch ur hair? Why is it such a big deal? I think these women would look better with black age appropriate hair styles. Make up yea they look plain. What about all the other cultures who made up these hair styles. And what about the discrimination that we as black ppl pass onto each other. I truly feel when we hold ourselves with high standards no one will come for us with unacceptable BS. This should be a study on blacks vs blacks. We always want to look externally to find out what we already know. Find out what’s the issue with blacks and then study a solution!!! What a waste of time

  6. Toya Banks November 27, 2013 Reply

    Terrence Sterling Right cthu I saw this and was rolling they look stupid

  7. Toya Banks November 27, 2013 Reply

    Tamara Carr She finna callllll Tyrone cuz you can’t tell her she ain’t cute

  8. Treasure Jenerra November 27, 2013 Reply


  9. Jessica Olivia Derose November 27, 2013 Reply

    I love the finger waves, cornrows, and flat twist with the flips. I think they look cute. *Kanye Shrug*

  10. Classy Class November 27, 2013 Reply


  11. Donna Swinson Simpson November 27, 2013 Reply

    This is a powerful piece!!!

  12. Ely Royana November 27, 2013 Reply

    They all look nice except for Meek Mills in the middle top row and Cassie and the bottom #1

  13. Ely Royana November 27, 2013 Reply

    the box braids look astonishing on that woman.

  14. Jay Beautifuleyes November 27, 2013 Reply

    this is.funnyyy LOL hahaaaaas

  15. Tiki Merritt Curry November 27, 2013 Reply

    Professional/corporate is what it is. It’s not anyone placing parameters around black women’s hair. I’ve been natural in corporate America and I’m conservative with my look. I will not walk in the office looking like I just applied for a job at Black Ink! Don’t agree? Look at the pictures. All the ladies are dressed in boring black suits, buttoned down shirts or shells, minimum jewelry and make up. And if the pictures had smell-o-vision, they would have on very subtle perfume. Believe me, the “fashionista” will not be CEO at one of these companies. Don’t let TV shows and movies fool you. Besides, these hairstyles are those that someone with relaxed tresses will mainly wear. And, I NEVER had anyone ask if they could touch my hair when it was straightened. Quite honestly, five of these styles depicted look very juvenile anyway. Not the best examples to use. However, there’s no way these women’s hair could have been reproduced to look like our natural tresses (which is really what’s asked to be touched).

  16. Sabrina Nelson November 27, 2013 Reply

    interesting comments Endia Beal good way to make us thisnk

  17. Khonjwase Banda Dale November 27, 2013 Reply

    Really nice. Very interesting.

  18. Tenicia Williams November 27, 2013 Reply

    Very interesting post!!!

  19. Yvette Toles November 27, 2013 Reply

    remember when I was in the controller’s office and had a short “fro”-took a leave and came back with with relaxed style a comment was “now you look more like a white girl”. maybe not as threatening,maybe more relatable, looking like the position I held….)

  20. Bongeka Madiba November 27, 2013 Reply

    I’ve had natural hair for my whole 8 year career; which many would consider a successful career. I think in corporations cleanliness is more important than type. If you’re white with dirty hair nobody will like that; same thing goes for a dirty locked girl

  21. Bongeka Madiba November 27, 2013 Reply

    They could’ve used cuter models tho. Women in my company are mostly beautiful

    • KWilliamsBryson December 23, 2013 Reply

      So sixties isn’t cute?!?

  22. Shavon Marie Smith November 28, 2013 Reply

    Like it!

  23. Roshell Davis November 28, 2013 Reply

    Augustine Sims Yes, thanks for sharing.

  24. MsKristil Hayes November 30, 2013 Reply


  25. Kelli Johnson-Henderson December 1, 2013 Reply

    Very insightful and creative!! I rather enjoyed seeing them all and the messages behind it.

  26. AnnavsAuna Alexander December 2, 2013 Reply

    This has me stuck…… These women look crazy as hell, I’m sorry. Not trying to say only black women can Rock these styles, we just look better doing it… Maybe its their age, I could be wrong , ijs, that is all

  27. Chamagne Williams December 4, 2013 Reply

    You have to have a certain level of confidence to pull off some of the styles we as African American women wear and these particular women lack that confidence, they look scared to death.

    • KWilliamsBryson December 23, 2013 Reply

      Disagree re: “scared” – it’s a function of our age/ethnic group’s “serious” demeanour required to exert authority in a world dominated by privileged white males coupled with societal expectations of our cohort. They seem quite normal to me….

  28. Eunice Sykes December 9, 2013 Reply

    none of them are really smiling…they don’t like the dos either!

    • KWilliamsBryson December 23, 2013 Reply

      The lack of smiles is not a reflection on the hairdos – it’s just what women in our age group do in formal photos….

  29. Samaria Rhett December 10, 2013 Reply

    These hair styles do not look suitable for a corporate position rather on a black person or white person. A well groomed Afro, braidout, full head braid, twists, locks, or a natural pin up can look professional. These hair styles look juvenile.African American hair can look professional without mimicking other races…but these hairstyles look inappropriate for an adult professional

  30. Suzi Coombs December 11, 2013 Reply

    The last two aren’t bad. I think the last lady is rockin’ those locks!

  31. Suzi Coombs December 11, 2013 Reply

    The last two look pretty good. The last one is rockin’ those locks. She just needs some more make-up and jewelry. The first 4 are pretty bad but some if it is the styles they chose. I used to braid my hair a lot when I was younger and could have come up with some better looking styles. The first and second ones, reallly? We all know nobody rocks the braids like the sistas!

  32. Patrice Phillips December 14, 2013 Reply

    Alexa Lightbourne Thought you might find this interesting…

  33. Càt Cordella Zigalova December 17, 2013 Reply

    Curly Hair [By Mixed Chicks Facebook Page]

  34. KWilliamsBryson December 23, 2013 Reply

    The classic pearls in different permutations are a startling contrast to the hair designs on the women in my age and ethnic group. We are boring, aren’t we?

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