PHOTO COURTESY OF THE TINY CLOSET

Shrinkage is one of the top five most infuriating natural hair problems for most naturals. Everyone is trying to fight it or stop it before it even begins. It’s the devil to some while others just feel it’s something one must "deal" with. Some curls have minimal shrinkage while others contract to 50% or more of their true length. As we stretch our coils to show the world we actually have long hair, I’m wondering if we are all missing the point.

Although everyone’s reasons for returning natural are different, the point of being natural is accepting and nurturing the hair that is naturally growing out of your head. It’s that simple. The problem with that thought is we do not live in a society where all women are considered beautiful in their natural state whether we are discussing body image, age, skin tone, or hair texture. We are in a highly superficial society where looks are everything and most women and girls are pressured to feel they must abide by what the masses view as acceptable and aesthetically pleasing to the eye.

I’m not digging too deep, I promise you. Loving oneself is all about acceptance and feeling lovely from within. That means loving your skin, face, eyes, lips, and whole body, which includes your hair. Once you embrace your hair’s personality, it calls to reason you would accept its natural tendency to coil within itself tighter and reaching closer to you. Ok, too deep? Maybe...but loving what our hair does without texture-altering hair tools, techniques, and tortures is what makes our hair journey a positive and productive pilgrimage.

We are constantly told to listen to our hair, but as we watch it shrink right before our eyes we are forever pulling it back, yanking on it with thread, heat, and styling tools. Are we listening or are we turning our backs and doing what we feel is more of an acceptable appearance for our tresses? Are we succumbing to the gnawing apprehension to show off our length? These are challenging means to feel or prove we measure up.

When our hair comes into contact with our clothing, the elements, and pollutants (which can all cause damage) we hate the very nature of our hair’s ability to protect itself by drawing up and away from them. Embracing shrinkage is not just healthy for our psyche but it’s healthy for our hair. By allowing our hair to stay in its shrunken state we are being true to its design and its purpose. Excessive straightening can be damaging yet we do it day in and day out and at many times at the expense of our hair’s health. As we stare at your split ends, broken edges, or heat damaged hair, think about why you are doing all this damage to your hair? Who is it for?

Your hair journey is a personal one, but for it to be positive means doing what is necessary to keep your tresses healthy. That also means to decide if your shrinkage is the real problem with your hair or if it’s your perception of what is acceptable or beautiful. No one says you have to wear your hair in its shrunken state 24/7 but make sure you are not wearing it straight 24/7 because you cannot accept your hair’s texture. Who you are and what your hair does naturally is more beautiful than any false notion of fabricated perfection. Embrace your true natural self in all forms and watch your spirit, mind, and hair grow immeasurably.