To shrink or not to shrink? That is the question.

Lady V’s topic of the day: shrinkage.

This isn’t pertaining to clothes or to certain body parts. Ahem. In this case, it refers to hair.

An unwelcome fact of life for many naturals is that curly and kinky hair shrinks. On kinky hair in particular, it can shrink as much as 80% due to all the bends and curves of its hair strands.   A lot of naturals hate shrinkage since it makes their hair appear way shorter than it actually is. I think part of this is due to the fact that long hair is the beauty standard in our society while short hair is considered unfeminine. When I initially went natural, I didn’t like shrinkage either since it was hard to see the progress I made in my hair growth. These days I consider it a blessing, which I’ll explain shortly.

This was my hair in my modified wash and go yesterday:

Although my hair is actually in layers, from here, you can see that it ranges from forehead length to about a little past ear length. This is as short as my hair ever appears currently.

This was my hair after I had blown it out and did a bantu knot out around three months ago:

As you can see, my longest layer in the back is about neck length here. That’s the case for any “out” style I do these days.

My hair stretched is nearly armpit length, as seen here:

I could straighten my hair fully to find out what its length is for sure, but I refuse to risk heat damage right now. I consider my shrinkage a blessing for the following reasons:

  • I can wear it at different lengths without ever having to cut my hair. My look can vary without ever having to visit a salon, which confounds people. I love it!
  • It protects my ends from possible breakage. These days when I wear out styles, the back of my hair is starting to touch turtleneck collars. It’s beginning to be problematic, since hair touching your clothing has the potential to break. Remember, black hair in general is the most fragile of any race or ethnicity because our highly textured hair has the most bends and coils of anyone and each coil is a potential breaking point. It’s one of the main reasons a number of naturals do protective styling so that their ends are hidden and tucked away. I haven’t done a lot of protective styling and I’ve explained my reasons before, but the longer my hair gets, I may have to consider doing more updos, which look halfway decent on me so far.

So I don’t consider it a problem as I’ve long changed my attitude about it. Remember, natural hair goes against the grain and that means re-evaluating and adjusting your mindset about what our culture deems the acceptable standard of beauty. So our hair doesn’t appear long and flowing. However, it can do other things that the hair of people from other races and ethnicities doesn’t do that are special in their own right and it’s to be cherished. Simply enjoy your hair.


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