I confess, I am guilty of obsessing over length at times. At one point, it was a priority bullet point in my journey, but now I understand that length retention isn’t possible without healthy hair and healthy hair begins with a healthy diet and good hair care practices. I admit that every once in a while, much like recovering product junkies occasionally fall off the wagon, I, too, slip up and give too much time to checking the length of my hair. Earlier this year, for example, I was doing length checks almost bi weekly and I didn’t even realize it. Silly.
To combat this obsessive nature, I had to start tucking my hair away for longer periods of time, stop doing my hair in the mirror while loose lest I be tempted to take a peek at my growth progress, and keep myself focused on caring for my hair and scalp. So far, so good. I haven’t had to pay much attention to my hair aside from washing and moisturizing, but I know I’m not the only one with this issue. Why is it naturals tend to be so concerned with length?
We want to personally debunk myths about black hair
This is understandable. Before this neo natural hair movement, many of us were taught that black hair doesn’t grow as long as our non-black counterparts’ and constantly seeing girls with damaged, broken hair struggling to stay in that thimble-sized ponytail or bun didn’t do anything to sway that way of thinking. Seeing a black girl with waist length or even BSL was like seeing a unicorn.
Now that this movement has brought to light our lack of proper hair care and taught us how to keep our hair healthy (for some, despite continuing to relax), for many black women, our eyes have been opened and we know we can grow long hair. However, it’s one thing to see other women growing their hair to fairytale lengths; it’s another to grow your own hair to that length. We want to be able to say “I did it!”
We get caught up in where we “should be” in our hair journies
This happens to all of us at some point, whether we want to admit it or not. We’ve all seen the woman who achieved waist length in three years or less, or surpassed your current length even though you’ve been natural for the same amount of time. That’s when we begin to obsess over why our hair isn’t as long as X person’s hair by now. You go from admiring the hair of those who have achieved your goal to essentially stalking their pages looking for their products and regimen, hoping to find some singular reason their hair has grown longer than yours so that you can utilize it too. This is also when you start looking into supplements, products, and other unconventional methods that claim to make your hair grow super fast, allowing yourself to be carried away by marketing and fads. You get frustrated about slow progress or no progress at all. Even in the middle of all that madness, deep down, we all know that only time, patience, and proper hair care will realize your length goals.
We feel length defines our beauty/femininity
We are fed from a very young age images of women with long hair being the epitome of beauty and femininity. This happens in just about every culture, but because of the above mentioned myths and black women being viewed as lesser than the standard of beauty, hair affects us just a little bit more. Men even tend to find women with longer hair more attractive (I’d like to see a study on why that is, or at the very least, a social experiment). Whether we realize it or not, it is another reason we buy the super long wigs/weave and obsess over growing hair to our tailbones. Being able to toss our fairytale-princess-long hair around and say we grew it out of our scalps makes us feel more beautiful, more attractive, more womanly. It is the reason why some women feel they look less feminine when they get the big chop. We feel like women should have length to their hair to look like women and be readily distinguished from men. Long hair gives us a big boost of confidence (and that’s for all women across the board, not just black women) in the same way makeup, breast augmentation, weight loss, and other cosmetics do. For black women in particular, however, to an extent, it makes us feel like we like have found a way to somewhat meet the standard of beauty.
Whatever the reason behind length obsession, a watched pot does not boil and constantly worrying about it is counterproductive to your cause. All you need to do to attain length goals is to properly care for your hair, eat a healthy balanced diet, and have patience. Peace & Love