Acceptance, Humor, and the TSA: A Hair-Rowing Experience

While zipping through airport security last week, the TSA agent said she needed to search my hair. I started laughing with acceptance of the situation’s absurdity. Search my hair!? It seemed so silly, almost as if she had asked me to do the hokey pokey right their at the security checkpoint.

She felt around my curly hair. It took but a few seconds, but I still wondered why TSA was searching my hair. I know I have big hair. Was it wired for explosion like Debbie Harry’s hair in the 1988 version of Hairspray?


On facebook I posted OMG! TSA just searched my HAIR! Check out the excerpt of the conversation below:

Mary  That happened to another friend of mine who has thick, curly hair. (Maybe they’re just secretly jealous! 😉

April 1 at 4:01pm

Ilana That happened to me too a couple of months ago! I started to laugh because it seemed so ridiculous. What do they think they are going to find in there?!

April 1 at 4:02pm

Nancy Carroll  Are they profiling people with curly hair?

April 1 at 4:35pm

Cindy i better straighten my hair.

April 1 at 5:21pm

Kristen Good to know! I have thick hair too.

April 1 at 5:23pm

Abby Now I’ve heard it all!!

April 1 at 8:16pm

Liz Sorry to hear this. I believe it is the work of the Hungarian youth hostel 🙂

Silvia What? No nuclear bombs?

April 1 at 10:04pm

Nancy Carroll Hahaha! Liz, you are too funny!

I started chatting with my seatmate, Shameka. Laughing I told her that my hair had just been searched. She stated that her hair had been searched in North Carolina! Even though she had big hair, it did not strike me as a weapon of mass destruction. We joked at how TSA might be targeting women with curly hair.

And then….right smack before the inflight movie started, the lanky man leaning wayyyyy back in his seat said, “You have beautiful hair. But I won’t be able to see the movie through your hair. Is there anything you can do to make it so it’s not sticking out as much?”

I took my hair stick out, pushed my hands down the sides of my hair, in a vain attempt to smooth down any wild frizz or stubborn curl jumping from my head. The air in the plane’s cabin was stuffy and hot. I contorted my body. I smashed myself as flat as a worm pancake so that he could view the movie without adjusting his seat into an upright position.

After a few minutes postured as a worm pancake, I could handle it no longer. My neck was sweating from my tresses pressed against it in the sticky air. I whispered to my big-haired neighbor that I couldn’t sit like this anymore.

This is ridiculous! I have big hair! There’s nothing I can do about it!”

I pushed my seat back up and sat up straight. As a consolation to Mr. Movie Watcher behind me, I whipped my hair into a side ponytail with a band that Shameka offered me. Still, a halo of frizz surrounded my head but the man was still able to watch the movie on one of the 10 other screens positioned throughout the cabin.

Inside those April Fool’s Day hair-rowing experiences (pun intended ;>), a few vital truths emerged about acceptance and humor.

1. Don’t take yourself so seriously.

    I laughed after my hair was searched. My goodness, think about it. In addition to removing shoes, shoving lotions into miniature bottles, frisking wheelchairs, TSA is now searching hair!

2.You are who you are.

    I am who I am. I’ve got big curly hair and that’s how God made me. There are some things about me that I can change, some I can’t, some that make me who I am, some destructive habits to get rid of, self-sabotage, etc. Yet we are created to be who we are whether we have big curly hair, straight hair, or are as bald as Mr. Clean!

The serenity prayer by Reinhold Niebuhr says it best:

God, grant me the serenity

To accept the things I cannot change

The courage to change the things I can

And wisdom to know the difference.

Be your best, big hair and all,



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One Comment

  1. Calvin Johnson
    January 19, 2013

    After working 30yrs. in law enforcement, in prisons and prisoner transportation. Be thankful they didn’t request a cavity search you’ll have to strip naked for that. I assure you there is a good reason for it. I’ve found razors blades in mouth’s, drugs under breast and in navels, small caliper guns in butts and vagina’s. When people decide their cause is great enough they will try anything. My experience has been that all the places we now search are the result of someone forfeiting their life because they didn’t know you could put a weapon their.

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