‘Hair Nah!’ is a Game With a Purpose

On She Goes in conversation with Momo Pixel

Serita Wesley
Serita Wesley
Story hero image

My hair is a big topic of conversation on an almost daily basis. It’s not just with my white acquaintances, but also other people of color. Some folks confuse their curiosity and adoration of my hair with having a right to my body. Whether it comes from a friend or a passerby, it leaves me feeling stuck, insecure, and almost catatonic. I want to stand up for myself, but I also don’t want to offend anyone—always knowing that it is my hair and my body, not theirs. I am not to be pet like your cat. Please pause before you consider messing up this carefully curated curl pattern. I always say: if you’re not my man or my hairstylist, your hands have no right or reason to be in my crown!

Out of the desire to give women of color a safe, cathartic outlet when it comes to uninvited hair touching, Hair Nah! was created by a dear friend of On She Goes, Momo Pixel. Hair Nah! is an interactive travel game that allows Black women—and all women of color—to virtually swat away the randos in order to preserve their crown.

Swatting away uninvited hands on a cab ride to your destination.

OSG: Where did the idea for Hair Nah! come from? Tell us a bit about the origin of the name.

Momo: Hair Nah! came from my favorite word and a situation that happened. It’s a little funny. But I say “nah” like way too much. It’s one of my favorite words because it can mean so much, and depending on my tone it can be funny or serious. And I was telling my CDs (creative directors) a story about people touching my hair, and there’s this part where I dodge a girl’s hand and I’m like, nah. When I was trying to explain it to my CDs, one of them was like, “Oh man, like I’m trying to imagine the dodging.” Now, I’ll just say he’s a very animated guy, and he starts ducking and kinda swatting. And I’m laughing, ’cause I’m like, nah, it’s not all the time like that, but feels like it. But then as I’m watching him, it dawns on me! I’m like, that would make a hilarious game. Then, boom! Hair Nah!   

OSG: What has your personal experience been when it comes to uninvited hair touching? How does it affect you as a Black woman?

Momo: I would say it mostly started occurring after college. I think I’m lucky in a sense that I went to an extremely diverse school. I’m talkin’ people from everywhere. Countries I’d never heard of. But everyone was always respectful of space. And we were artists, so almost everyone was experimenting with our looks and hair. So people reaching into my head without permission, nah, this is new to me! I’ve experienced it more in this past year than my whole life, more specifically since I’ve moved to Portland…LAWD!

The moment someone mentions my hair, I grab it to claim ownership.

I’ll be walking, and a woman will reach her hands into my head. I’m talking to a teammate, and a coworker I just met is holding my hair in his hand. I’m in the checkout line, and the cashier will reach across to caress my braids. I shudder thinking about it. It’s so creepy. And it sucks because I know a lot of women have had this issue their whole life. But for me, it all came at once! And I’m like, WTF is this? I didn’t sign up for this. Who told you that you can do that? Where are your manners? Guard!

It’s very off-putting and it pisses me off because it’s hard to be yourself when everyone is claiming a piece of it. I find myself at least in Portland being very guarded, and the moment someone mentions my hair, I grab it to claim ownership. I even have responses prepared and dance moves for when drunk white women start dancing near me, talking about I’m a unicorn. Like, nah, bruh. I’m about to do this bob and weave and keep my sanity. 

Personalize your player.

OSG: What is the objective of the game?

Momo: The objective of the game is to help Aeva catch her flight and protect her hair by stopping the reaching hands.

OSG: What are you hoping to achieve with Hair Nah!?

Momo: I’m hoping to push the conversation further. Because I don’t know how many times Black people can keep telling folks to stop touching our hair and in how many different mediums before they get it. There are countless videos, hella memes, Solange made a song, now there is this game. So if folks don’t get it, it’s because they don’t want to.

I hope this game gets big enough, to the point [where] people have those honest conversations with themselves and others and stop.

When you’ve reached your destination!

OSG: How does feel Hair Nah! will help this issue?

Momo: I think Hair Nah! will make this more digestible to some people, obvious to others, a wake-up call to some, and a sigh of relief for a lot. I think that this game, if shown to kids, will be a no-brainer. Like, “Yeah! Keep your hands to yourself.” That’s the number one golden rule you learn in school.

Clearly you shouldn’t invade someone’s personal space. But who I’m really hoping to get are those women and men who may not really be paying attention to their actions or don’t see them as offensive. I hope they see themselves in this game and be like, “Oh my God.” And then from there stop doing it.

I think games are a great way to learn and teach. So we gon see. Lol.

OSG: Where do you see Hair Nah! going in the future?

Momo: I have no clue! I’m working on some merchandise. Really, it depends on what the people want. But I’m open to all the blessings. But Hair Nah! could go anywhere! We’ll just have to see.