On Shrinkage

In the natural hair community there seems to be this obsession with shrinkage. Or should I say length. We treat shrinkage like it's the enemy, the root of all evil. Length is our best friend and the hair goal of many.
Art by the talented Keturah Ariel

Let's stop and think about this for a minute. Why is it like this?

Length is measured by stretching the hair which means making the hair as straight as possible. Making the hair straight. Stay with that sentence for a minute.

The goal is length which is measured through making the hair straight. 

Why?

Once again we are making our hair something it isn't - straight - to achieve our goal. But our hair is not straight. And nature chose to not make it this way. So since our hair isn't straight shouldn't there be some other goal for us with naturally curly hair? 

Shrinkage is seen as the opposite of length. But is it? And why? Shrink is what naturally curly hair that is healthy does. It's natural. 

Maybe we are just chasing European standards of beauty when we yearn for length. What if we lived in a world where African standards of beauty were the norm? What if naturally curly hair and dark brown skin were seen as the highest manifest of beauty? Would we still measure the length of our hair stretched? Or would the biggest Afro or the tightest curl pattern be the goal? Would we be overjoyed by our shrinkage? Or would we perhaps not notice it than more than another feature of our hair? 'Cause think about it! If we weren't comparing our hair to straight hair would shrinkage even matter?


Popular Posts