Thursday, 28 August 2014

Is Length The New Curly

When I first went natural, I did what all naturals do. Trawled the blogs and vlogs of all the popular naturalistas, soaking up the ambiance. What I didn't appreciate then was that everyone's natural hair is different; I was looking at curly haired naturals doing curly hair things and I thought that's what all natural hair did,as long as you had the right products or tools. I armed myself with curl enhancing products (I should have shares in Shea Moisture), gels and denman brushes and off I went. As an eternal optimist, it took me ages to realise I was going nowhere, fast. I was burning up all this time, money and effort yet my hair just sat there looking...kinky. And kind of smooshed. Where was I going wrong gaddamitt?! 

nuff said..

During this time, I was suffering chronic dryness and breakage, because I was focusing more on stylers and manipulating my hair a lot. All that smoothing, shingling, praying, brushing curl-enhancing business meant I was handling my hair a hell of a lot. Then a friend gave me a tub of Carol's Daughter Healthy Hair Butter and that was really my turning point.

It was the first product I owned that made no allusions to curls; it said 'healthy' rather than 'curly' and it left my hair feeling just that: healthy. And soft. It dawned on me that not only did my hair not want to curl, but also that it looked better when I focused on moisturising. There was no eureka moment, more a creeping realisation, but, when the penny finally dropped, that was it. Curl-chasing and I parted ways forever. My curl products sat on a shelf gathering dust until I gave them away. (Although that denman demon haunted my detangling days for many, many more months until I met Ijeoma of Klassy Kinks who introduced me to finger detangling). I started finding blogs by naturals with hair more like mine, beautiful, soft, curl-free hair and I knew I was home. But the addictive personality in me soon found a new obsession. Length!


Kinky or Curly, we were all at it. Pulling our hair every which way checking for signs of length retention. Every other article was about how to grow your hair long and I even saw people making their own length check t-shirts! Yup. Even my crazy balked at that one; I was officially outcrazied. For me, it started out  pretty normal. Length retention practices suit my laziness hair type to a tee. I was in two strand twists 5 days out of 7 meaning I could wake up later, I was using less product and I could still wear a cute twist out on the weekend if I needed to glam it up. I was in hair heaven. It started to go pear-shaped when I went to get a professional trim and he took quite a bit off. Although I acted like I was cool with it, it scared me off salons. Nobody was messing with my length swag! I bought hair scissors and did my own trims, taking off the teeniest amounts I could get away with. 

My hair got longer and all the people who had talked crazy about it in the beginning talmbout 'your hair is too kinky to go natural' were suddenly like 'wow! your hair has really grown!' 'Gosh, it looks so nice' etc etc. I was totally validated. The message? 'If you're going to be natural, your hair better be curly, or long'. It's no secret that black women love long hair. That's why we love weave so much!  On natural-hair groups, the long haired naturals get the same questions the curly haired naturals do: 'What do you use?' How do I get my hair to look like that?' 'I want your hair!' etc etc. Then everyone stampedes out to buy the same products. Even if it's baby poop. Yes, I actually saw that somewhere. We can act empowered all we like and say we're growing our hair long to prove a point (black hair can grow long, too!) but the way we hang on to the scraggiest, thinnest, unhealthiest of hair in the name of length retention points to something much more deep-seated. 
So the other day when I was talking to a friend and she mentioned nonchalantly that she had lost some length after colouring her hair, I joked that she had reached hair nirvana. But deep down inside I was side-eyeing her, wondering if she was really as unfazed as she made out. And then it hit me. I was that chick! Heaping eye-rolling scorn on naturals who ask 'how do I make my hair curly?' but drinking from the same fountain when it came to hankering over length. My hair's thin ends had started bothering me so much that I stopped wearing my beloved twist outs and started bunning full-time but I was still too scurred to cut them off! So yesterday evening I gulped down a glass of wine then snipped off all the thin ends I could see. (don't try this at home kids!). Having mini twists in made the whole thing pretty easy. I even went back and snipped more off an hour later and again this morning while I was oil pulling (anything to make the minutes go by). 

huge disparity in the state of my ends, some weren't as bad as others

I'm not saying I'm cured, far from it. The fact that I went through the snippings, pulled out various bits, arranged them on a piece of paper, used a teaspoon for scale, then took a picture, shows that I've still got one foot solidly planted in crazy town, but it's definitely a step in the right direction. My hair is all lengths right now and if anyone notices out loud my shorter hair I will cut them cry not be bothered because I know my hair will be much better for it.

So let's toast to healthy hair, long or short, kinky or curly.

Are you a length chaser too?


  1. Yup! I want it down my back in a yummy ponytail!

  2. Too true.

    The photo with the scraggly straight ends is hilarious.

    And the very neat way you arranged your hair next to the spoon. ������

    1. LOL! Thank you for noticing! Like i said, crazy town.

      As for that photo, I'm itching for scissors. Although I wouldn't be surprised if my hair got to that state. Length madness.

    2. Hehe preaching to the choir. I'm a bit ocd-like, so I notice and do weird things as well. But not that! �� And you're hilarious!

      Don't worry, you'll get to a length where you'll get sick of all that hair and wouldn't mind if it didn't grow another inch. I see many vloggers are getting there.

  3. I am seriously chasing length but i pretend i don't care because you can never really know your length if you don't straighten it (tongue in cheek) but i do get excited when it touches the nape of my neck....and then start planning for when it gets longer...never satisfied....we shallow beings.