How to Avoid Shrinkage


I saw this article in one of the black hair magazines. I think Black Beauty and Hair. And it made me laugh. ’10 ways to beat shrinkage’. You can stretch your hair any which way you please but if you want to ‘beat’ shrinkage then you have to plain and simple get a relaxer and turn your hair into something that it isn’t.

This pervading narrative that we should set ourselves up in opposition against our hair – to tame it, to manage it – is just unhelpful. It’s another variation of the litany we have heard over the centuries: ‘our hair isn’t good enough as it is and we should change its natural characteristics’.

I get why people don’t like shrinkage. From a practical point of view it can introduce a lot of tangles to your hair and from an aesthetic point for view people often prefer to show off their length.

But is there a more subtle layer of complexity at play? Is this aesthetic desire to avoid shrinkage a desire to fit into dominant society’s mold and have hair that is longer and therefore more acceptable by it’s standards of beauty. Is there a sub conscious association between length and beauty? Maybe, maybe not.

But shrink is what afro hair does. And to spend time and effort trying to eliminate that characteristic and stay ‘natural’ is a fool’s errand.

Normally when I speak of such matters people claim I don’t have the right to. They invoke the ‘it’s alright for you and your good hair shit’ but my hair looks like it does because it’s moisturised and stretched and fairly long. Even I don’t know what its like to wear my hair out and come back in the evening with it looking the same way. Shrinkage is my norm.


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