Natural Hair Length Check!

Natural Hair Length Check!

Let’s talk about length checking. How many times have you or someone you know with tight curls has pulled them straight to see how “long” their hair is? It’s something that we may personally do or at least have seen countless times. Natural hair influencers will often do this on video to show off the length that they’ve achieved. This is a bit of a nuanced issue. While length checks aren’t always problematic, the reasons they occur are often rooted in eurocentric beauty standards. Most people who have loose curls don’t do length checks. This is an occurrence that mainly occurs with those with tight curls (what some consider 3 or 4 type natural hair). Unless you wear your hair straight, your hair isn’t considered that length. Let’s say you wear your hair in loose natural styles (wash-n-gos, twists, twist-outs, etc.,).

Where your hair falls in those styles is your present hair length.

Length checks are often used as a way to prove that you have more hair than what’s being perceived. It stems from the misconceptions that Black people (particularly women) cannot grow their hair long. Having “type 4” natural hair has been especially frowned upon by society and even within the Black community.  When people question whether or not curly hair fit’s that mold, the easiest way to prove we’ve achieved that beauty standard is to tug our hair down. The desire to have long hair also pushes many naturals to cling to damaged hair because they can’t let go of their inches. The fact is that our hair is not naturally straight. It can be straightened, yes, but that isn’t its natural state. When we hold ourselves to meeting these standards it warps our way of thinking.

Doing length checks can lead to hating our natural, beautiful shrinkage. While there are ways to minimize shrinkage, we always have it. It happens because of how our hair grows from our heads. There’s nothing wrong with that. You’re doing yourself a disservice when you constantly pull your hair down to see what it would look like when straightened. You may begin to think, “Why can’t my hair look like this when it’s curly?” or “Why does my hair get so short?”

The answer is simple: your hair is not straight.

That’s why it doesn’t look that length. Brown Skin Women receives countless questions about shrinkage on our socials and during our webinars. Usually, it’s how to prevent it or stop it from happening entirely. In reality, shrinkage can denote healthy hair. Tight curls that become looser over time are a telltale sign of irreversible damage. Your hair can no longer hold its natural shape because it’s weakened. Springy “4 type” natural curls show health. You can only get springy with shrinkage.

This is not to say pulling your hair straight to see if it’s grown is a terrible thing. We’re just saying it can warp your perspective of what your natural hair should look like. If you feel the need to justify your hair length by telling people what it looks like straight, then think about why you feel the need to do so. There is nothing wrong with straightening your hair, either. We believe that it’s your hair, your choice. Wear it how you want it when you want.

We simply want our Curlfriends to think critically about some habits in our community the status quo, and why that is.

Some of us have a lot of shrinkage and may do length checks to see how much hair we’re working with so we can try new styles. That’s totally fine. You may want to see if your new regimen is allowing for consistent growth that you may not notice when your hair is in its natural state, that’s also fine. What’s important is that you don’t use length checks as a way to confirm you’re reaching an unfair beauty standard that has been reinforced in our society.

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