September 8, 2014

Stretching Natural Hair: The Obsession with Elongation


by Sabrina Perkins of SeriouslyNatural via GlobalCouture 

It can happen to the best of us. You start off knowing it takes time for natural, coily, or curly hair to have any ‘hang time’. There are many products that promote creating curls but they also promote giving you longer curls, elongated tresses or fighting shrinkage. It sounds good, heck, it sounds great but is there honestly a product that can elongate your curls to lengths we can only dream of without straightening our hair?

I’m guilty of trying to elongate my hair too. Every day I co-wash I pull all of my hair back into a low ponytail and clip with an ouchless barrette. I wait until it’s about 60% dry (around 2 to 4 hours) and then shake it out so I have some hang time. A bit much you might say? Yea, it does appear so but as I know if I don’t do that the shrinkage would be unbelievable and I just don’t want to deal with hair to my ears by the end of the day. Vanity prevails and at what risk am I doing to my hair because of it?

Obsession with curl or coil elongation is real and as I feel I am about to spring a product out on you like a late-nigh commercial I already know that product doesn’t exist. There is no product that can magically make your curls elongate to the lengths chemicals or heat can do. The real problem is heat and chemicals will destroy the coil so they don’t really do it either and even though I can stretch my coils out to past my shoulders when wet by the time its dry, it’s up to my ears.

This is a problem just shy of the defining curl problem that many curlies and coilies face. They want their hair to show its true length but shrinkage is stronger than elongation, my dears. No matter how hard I stretch my hair for almost half the day I still face shrinkage and my hair never goes past my shoulders unless I’m in the shower. I’m obsessed, I admit it and when I first came across my little ‘trick’ I thought it was a great for every now and again but I find myself almost forced to wear it like this daily to appease the elongation monster I have within me.

I know, I know… don’t fight nature, embrace it. I spout this almost daily but when I looked at myself in the mirror a few days ago I realized I wasn’t practicing what I preach. I was not embracing my lovely shrinkage and as the reality sunk in sadness began to grow. How can I tell others to embrace their natural tresses if I’m not embracing my own? I’m a hypocrite and it hurts but what hurts more is that even after years of being natural and knowing shrinkage is not a bad thing I’m still battling with it sometimes.


I love my coils. I love my hair and I love my naturalness but is my obsession with elongation going to harm my coils? I don’t pull my hair back in a ponytail tightly and I only use an ouchless barrette so the damage I may be inflicting is minimal but that’s the outward damage.

Is the internal damage of not accepting my spring back coils more damaging of my psyche? I’m no psychologist and I’m on expert but I know not accepting my hair’s natural tendency to coil up is not a good thing. It’s unaccepting of its beauty. No, I’m not using heat but I’m still pulling and tugging on it to make it longer so I need to accept I am obsessing over elongation like so many others.

‘Hang time’, tends to occur more often with the wavier textures. I can accept that. What I cannot accept is hair to my ears, it seems, but I’m aware I’m not accepting it so that’s better than being clueless. I’ll work on my obsession while everyone else works on theirs and as we one day come together and embrace whatever body part we women down ourselves over I sure hope you understand we are all beautiful and just need to be reminded of it every now and again. Goodness, it’s sometimes hard being a woman, but Lord I wouldn’t want it any other way.

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