Pat-Downs For Big Hair: Is the TSA Crossing the Line?

Amanda Elser

We didn’t say anything when they started making us take off our shoes, we barely made a peep when they enforced full body scans, but when it comes to our hair — that’s where we draw the line.

Dallas hairstylist, Isis Brantley, is the most recent air traveler added to the list of women who have had their hair patted down and checked for explosives by the Transportation Security Administration after they had already been through the security checkpoint.

We understand the added precautions, and we appreciate them, but stopping a woman on an escalator and telling her that they have to check her head for explosives is not just inconvenient, but borderline offensive. This is what we have security checkpoints for, and its not like her hair was an unclaimed piece of baggage.

Apparently, TSA claims that Brantley wandered off before her security check was complete, but it seems a little sketchy to us that they didn’t think of catching up with her until she was on a platform for an inter-terminal train. Brantley said the public search was humiliating, and I don’t blame her, who wants their hair picked through like a chimp on a train platform?

We first heard about TSA’s natural-hair pat downs back in August when an African-American woman,Timery Shante Nance, had her hair patted down after she had already been scanned at the checkpoint. According to the New York Times article, Nance asked the screener why she was checking her, while other women with bushy hair or ponytails were let through.”Is it just African-American women with natural hair who get the hair search?” she asked.

The TSA denies claims that they are purposefully racially profiling black women.”All passengers are thoroughly screened coming through the screening checkpoint,” said Kristin Lee, a spokeswoman for the New York Times. “Additional screening may be required for clothing, headgear or hair where prohibited items may be hidden.”