My Natural Hair Journey, Chapter 13: Having (not so) Long Hair

This could just as easily have been entitled “My own personal thoughts on the hang-up with length and pardon any potential rants,” but for the sake of consistency and appeal, I will stick with what has been my format for the past twelve chapters.

There’s something that bugs me about most natural hair communities.   I think I finally articulated it out loud when a newly natural friend of mine and I were discussing our husbands’ perspectives on long hair.    She said that her husband told her, unapologetically, that he liked her permed hair better.    When I thought about it, I had to confess that although my husband has been very supportive, and even enthused, about all the changes my hair (and consequently my appearance) has gone through in the last year or so, he has decided opinions about long hair, too.  I see his preferences in the actresses he admires (although now he will stop to ask, “You think that’s her real hair?”)   I see it in the young ladies he points out to our son (thank God our son is seemingly a late bloomer in this area).

It’s not just my husband.   As I mentioned before, it’s a prevailing theme  over the hair boards: 

the longer your hair, the better.  

 There.   I said it.    But is it true?   

I began my natural hair journey with hair that was a little past my shoulders, and I enjoyed it.   I enjoyed mostly the convenience of not having to do much to my hair–a bun or ponytail was always an option.     But when I began my transition, I noticed You-tuber after You-tuber, blog after blog, shot after shot of women stretching their tresses to show how long their hair is.   Kudos to them, but I can’t help but think that something is inherently wrong wth a woman pulling at her hair as if to say, “See how looooonnnng my hair is!!”   I look at those shots and think, is my natural hair journey’s success defined by how long my hair becomes?

I think the insistence that longer hair is somehow a step above, especially for our culture, belongs in the same bag of trash with certain skin colors being somehow better, or eyes that aren’t dark brown, or any other 200-year-old absurdity.   God created us all in His image, and we are, in whatever is our outer package, fearfully and wonderfully made.  Moreover, when God made us–each of us–He said it was good.   Who are we to challenge that?

Our focus shouldn’t be on longer hair for length’s sake; we should promote healthy hair, regardless of the length.  The obsession with length, I think, is self-defeating for some.    With all due respect to acidity and pH in hair, as well as all the other hair-down-to-there theories, there is a reality that we are as individual as our fingerprints.   That means that, regardless of products or diet, we won’t all be Diana Ross in the “weave-it-to-achieve-it” days.

So, what am I saying?   Me, the “expert” with a whole year of transitioning under her belt (said tongue-in-cheek)?   Learn from the many resources that are available to you via You-Tube,  websites, books, etc., but don’t let these images consume you.    For most of us, they are potentially damaging to our self-esteem.    Moreover, these looks don’t even work for those that grace the magazines with them over long periods of time.    This is a shot of the beautiful supermodel Naomi Campbell, complete with her traction alopecia.

Personally, I’ve begun to wear my hair in a flat twist-out, a style that really tightens my curls and makes my hair look its shortest.   It’s my own personal statement against “the man.”   🙂

Seriously, I’m psychologically preparing myself for the days when my permed hair is a thing of the past, and I’ll begin the next phase of my journey with curly, shrunken hair.    I figure that, once I’ve cut the last of the perm out, this is probably about where I’ll be, only without the combination of relaxed hair and natural hair.  

As for my husband’s perspective, I’ll meet him more than halfway, allowing my hair to grow as long as it will over time.    But I’ll also continue to experience the freedom of walking in what the Good Lord gave me, like I did the other day when it began to rain while I walked to the car.   I loved not having to run for shelter or worry about rollers, blow dryers, flat irons, blah, blah, blah.   Most of all,  I won’t stress about length or pull my hair to see “where I am” on my transition.   I’ll just enjoy each stage.

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4 thoughts on “My Natural Hair Journey, Chapter 13: Having (not so) Long Hair

  1. Kudos on this blog installment! As a woman with a very tight curl pattern/hair type…long “length” is never going to be achieved in my natural hair journey and destination. Oh sure, I could stretch it out and show just how much “shrinkage” I have covering my “true hair length”, but why do that? I am still so early in transitioning that I’m continuing to straighten a bit (not chemically) to avoid the major breakage that can come when relaxed and natural textures “collide”! LOL! But, I’m looking forward to that being less and less a part of the transition. Until then, I’m just loving the fact that I haven’t put that creamy crack on my scalp or in my hair since May 2011. I know I still have quite a journey ahead before being completely relaxer free, but length watching is SO not on my agenda as I travel this road…only the healthiness of my hair matters!

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  2. Love your attitude!

    On the flip side, I once had a woman with an attitude basically say to me, “when are you going to grow up and cut your hair short?” I’ve run into the idea “out there” that once a woman’s hair goes gray it is time for her to keep it short.

    I love learning about your journey and it is enlightening to me to read your thoughts on the matter. I agree, health is what is really important.

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    • The fact that she didn’t mention dying the hair is amazing. Actress Jamie Lee Curtis is one of my heroes (assuming she doesn’t wear her hair short due to others’ expectations–lol).

      I think we might see Jesus before we see a relief from other women, and sometimes men, who want to hold us hostage to archaic stereotypes. That whole “too old for long hair” bit is right up there with wearing white gloves with a dress and stockings out in public–I once had an aunt who packed 7 pairs of those for a vacation. Geesh!

      Good to see you healing and back in action, Tracy. God bless.

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