Recently, we have been talking a lot about sexual harassment and how it affects women and our society as a whole. Sometimes, however, we forget to talk about different types of harassment, including unwanted touching. This can include touching someone’s hair without their permission. Momo Pixel – an art director and pixel designer for Wieden + Kennedy in Portland – is bringing attention to just how tired she and other black women are of having their hair touched without permission.
Pixel recently created a video game that addresses this problem and as you can probably imagine, the game has since gone viral. The game has sparked a new conversation, reminding people to not touch a black woman’s hair just because you want to.
Pixel created the game aptly called “Hair Nah” after trying to explain the annoyance to her boss – who is white. Her boss then tried to recreate what it would be like to experience people touching your hair without warning. She said, “He was dodging and ducking. He looked so silly.” She then thought to herself, “This would make a hilarious game.”
The game’s title came into play after Pixel realized that she could create a play on words by mixing the phrase “hell nah” to “Hair Nah.” She said, “When people ask you if they can touch [your hair], you want to say to them, ‘Hell nah.’ These are moments you want to say ‘nah’ but for your hair.”
Hair Nah starts you off by allowing you to choose from different hairstyles, and then lets you choose a destination. As you drive to the airport to catch your flight to that destination, you have to swat the white hands away before they touch your hair. Not only does the game leave you feeling anxious about all of the hands approaching your hair, it also includes uncomfortable comments people make about your hair.
An avatar, based on Pixel, guides you through the process by encouraging you to keep going, telling you that you are amazing. The game certainly teaches you how much of an invasion of privacy and personal space touching someone’s hair can be. The game is intentionally hard in order to create that sense of anxiety.
Pixel shared one of her “hair nah” moments with CNN, saying, “It felt like getting molested, because she was caressing them. Even thinking about it now, I just want to throw up. I was uncomfortable.” This kind of thing happened to Pixel a lot in Portland, she added, “I’ve lived a lot of places but people touch my hair here more than anywhere. I remember being mad all the time. I used to just hate walking outside because [I] knew someone was going to invade [my] space.”
Hair Nah might seem funny at first, but it is more of an unnerving game that teaches you something by the time you reach your destination. At the very end, the avatar pops back up to congratulate you but also adds a message saying, “This is an issue black women face daily. So a note to those who do it, ‘stop that sh*t.’”
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