Just in the past month, there have been two high-profile cases of powerful, famous black women having to use their platform to call out magazines for Photoshopping their natural hair to fit a more white-centric notion of what is beautiful. It started with Solange, whose crown made of braids was completely removed from the cover of London’s Evening Standard Magazine. Just a few weeks later, Lupita Nyong’o called out Grazia for smoothing out her natural hair on its cover. Both magazines apologized.
These high-profile examples mirror a microagression that black women face on the daily, and Portland-based art director Momo Pixel is doing her part to help both alleviate stress for black women and to teach the rest of the world about just how annoying it is to constantly have your hair touched by strangers. Pixel, 27, created a free online game called Hair Nah, in which the player has to swat away the hands of people trying to touch a black woman’s hair.
Pixel tweeted the game out from her personal account just two days ago, and it has already gone viral. In an interview with BuzzFeed, Pixel revealed that she made the game alongside an animator and two developers over the course of 10 months. "I was so shocked but proud of the response [to the game.] It really humbled me," she said.
"I wanted to create something that was fun and had a light feel but it's also serious as hell and I felt like a game would be hilarious for black women,” she explained. “For those who touch our hair, this is a moment for your ass to learn that this is not cool. It's stressful and it's anxiety [-producing]. I felt this was the best way to explain it."
Pixel's game has already had about 30,000 players, according to Pixel. It allows you to customize your skin tone and hair style and texture. You can also pick a destination: Osaka, Havana, or Santa Monica Pier. As you play, voices in the background say things like: “So nice," “Is it attached to your head?" and "Can I touch it?"
"Seeing so many people relate to it is so amazing. It's the best part of it all," Pixel said. "It's so affirming to make a game of your own and people really love it. I just see black people loving on black people. We dope."
The response to Pixel’s game has been overwhelmingly positive, and black woman in particular have been vocal about how much they love the concept, as it makes them feel represented like never before.
I recorded myself playing level 1. If you made it an app, I'd buy it. pic.twitter.com/IO88O000ap— Nicola A. Menzie (@namenzie) November 16, 2017
Incredible. Wish I had when I was a kid— Ceenie Martinez (@celinaMTL) November 15, 2017
girl... pic.twitter.com/XwdkzJQoTQ— Heather B (@HBSHeather) November 17, 2017
THIS IS EVERYTHING— Jenna Wortham (@jennydeluxe) November 16, 2017
I'm so ashamed that white people STILL do this! How can anyone in 2017 think this is ok?! I am so sorry you have to deal with this. Love your game!— Ms.Shackleton (@MsShackletonGnv) November 16, 2017