From the time I was a little girl, I’ve always had a fascination with long hair. Tying a towel, nightgown, or scarf to my head and vigorously whipping it from side to side was a regular playtime occurrence.

Maybe it had something to do with envy, but the one thing that always stood in the back of my mind was just how fast and just how long my Latina and White friends’ hair would grow. I couldn’t quite figure it out, but at a young age I came to the conclusion that Black girls just didn’t achieve that kind of length. Looking around me, it was an easy assumption to make. My own hair was curly and baby fine, and at its longest, went just past my shoulders. My younger sister was the opposite, with immensely thick, kinky strands, but even her locks wouldn’t reach past the tipping point. Just about everyone in my family, including my Black friends, had short or medium-length hair, so it was safe to conclude that super-long, natural Black hair didn’t exist.

I was so accustomed to seeing weaves on almost every Black woman, that I used to believe that Black girls just had some kind of genetic predisposition to shorter hair. Some say that this seeming phenomenon is a result of the damage we do to our hair on a regular basis. Relaxers, heating tools and other instruments of hair torture are to blame for us not being able to achieve great lengths. And maybe it’s just the fact that our texture is deceiving to the eye, since tightly wound coils don’t always tell the truth about length. Regardless, it wasn’t until later on in life that I began to realize that Black girls do, in fact, grow long hair without the assistance of a weave or mixed blood, both of which is believed to be the only ways in which a brown girl’s hair could crawl down her back. I can remember being a young adolescent and coming across a Black girl just about my age with over 15 inches of hair and literally being in a state of awe. It was truly a rare sight for me, as strange as that might sound.

After that, I started to see more and more women of my complexion with hair like Naomi Campbell . . . except that it was real. This just goes to show that hair length can be a powerful thing. As women, we are made to believe that hair is an extension (no pun intended) of our beauty and inherent femininity, and that without it, we’re not as beautiful as our lighter-skinned counterparts. Something so insignificant tends to hold an overwhelming amount of weight, driving us to unnatural, enhancing measures.  I now know that our hair has the ability to get as long as it wants, but some people’s hair just stops at certain points–Latinas, Whites and Asians included–and looks good either way.

-Princess Glover

  • chelsea

    We can grow our hair just as long as any other race. I do believe for the most part though our hair takes a bit longer to grow longer because we are born trend setters and when we trend set with our hairstyles its a lot of damage being done…hey we like to look good but its at a cost most times…anyways we need to stop buying in to that stereotype ourselves that were just chicken heads questioning each others hair seeing if its real or fake because we have beautiful hair natural and curly or relaxed and straight so many options…hell we rock!

  • http://noirmuse.blogspot.com/ caribbelle

    Trust and believe when you scalp is healthy, when you wear protective styles and keep your hair moisturized, it will retain length. Our hair grows like everyone else, however I had to learn that how my hair behaves in its natural state is completely different: like shrinkage.

    I also had to reevaluate my thought process about wearing my hair “out” sure its fun and it looks fabulous but I had to limit that once my hair grew to a certain point. Now I do it once in a while as a treat or for a special occasion, beyond that its all protective styles and I now see the length as proof.

    ETA: clip your dead ends because the only thing those split are gonna do is travel up the shaft of the hair, defeating the purpose of trying to retain length

  • binks

    I always laugh or shake my head women people are like black girls can’t grow their hair long…please! I think people need to remember that though everyone hair is similar that black hair just behaves differently especially natural black hair. Shrinkage is a beast for the majority of black women because it hides our true length. That is why I’ am always shock when I see naturals press their hair because their length is just ridiculous! Black girls can grow hair it just depends on how you treat your hair and scalp. You would be surprise how much your hair grows if you take care of it, leave it alone/treating it dedicatedly, and knowing what to put in it. The problem with most of us is that we go for the styles but forget basic hair care with affections our retention. Plus the high heat and chemicals wrecks havoc on our hair which is already dedicate than most. As mention if we stop buying into stereotypes and jumping from styles/products/treatments to styles/products/treatment that promise to do this that or the other with our hair and just listen to its needs and giving it good old fashion TLC you would see a lot of black girls/women with long hair

  • keke

    this is so true, all hair grows at the same length but its maintaining your hairs length thats a problem for black women, instead of being lazy and saying you cant deal with your hair lets take care of it,feed it, nurture it care for it like any other part of your body. I grew up with fairly curly hair, but i cldnt or ddnt take the time to deal with it! but now im actaully taking it seriously and my hair looks and feels healthier, cant wait till it grows out beautifully healthy lol. its not as hard as it seems if you do whats good for your hair type.Do your research LongHairCareForums are everywhere on the web.

  • Blackgirl

    I love this article because it’s true we can grow our hair long. Most of the time we fail to realize that hair growth also depends on what we eat and stress. I had short hair most or my life unitl I moved away from my home town leaving behind tons of stress and bad southern cookiing. My family and friends were shocked when I returned home(after two years) for a visit with hair part my shoulders. The funny part of my lil story is, I moved back home for about year and my hair started to break off so I moved and never even visited my home town again.I make my family and friends visit me.

  • fr

    Long hair isn’t for everyone. Yes, I believe black women can grow it. But I don’t think its flattering for ALL black women. There are many ways to rock hair and be beautiful. Instead of chasing length, we need to chase healthy hair and flattering styles. I see that as the issues with hair and black women.

  • Lady J

    My niece had long hair, down to her lower back at age 12/13. It was well taken care of with braiding and pressing. Then she got a perm and 1 year later, the hair was shorter than shoulder length. Black women do too much damage to their hair trying to get it to “behave”. As we learn more about how to keep our hair healthy we’ll, hopefully, see more women with naturally long hair. Unfortunately keeping black hair healthy and long requires time, effort and care – things which many of us are unwilling to sacrifice. It’s much easier to just braid it up and sew in a weave or cut it off and rock short styles. I have nothing against weaves, afros, twists, locs, press, relaxer – whatever! A sista’ can rock any style – but lets learn how to take care of our hair so that it will be healthy.

  • 33Tamapa

    Health( stress free and active) is a key issue to healthy hair. Most do not realize that our hair requires moisture and relaxers are not helping. Our hair can get to the length we want but it just grows slower than the other races because our hair pattern is naturally curly instead of straight. I didn’t realize how long my hair was until my hairstylists flat ironed one time for me and I was shocked that it was hanging past my shoulders since 12 months before I had chopped all of my hair off. Drink lots of water, do not allow stress in your life, stay active for 30 mins a day; moisturize moisturize moisturize. Watch out for products with alcohol and sulfates in them.

  • Mercedes

    I agree. Black women can have long hair. Healthy natural long hair. My sister has afro-kinky hair down to her shoulders. But, I think we emphasis length is equal to health. A lot of the natural hair blogs focus on length as a holy grail. Its not.

    • http://facebook Niya L.Small

      I am a 34 yr.old women and I do have permed black hair.I don’t go to beauty shops and I have been doing hair at my home for over 14 years.I’m not a mixed beauty.My hair is past my bs and the only thing I do is keep it in protective styles.when doing the protective styling,make sure the edges of the hair are not tight and pulling.plaits are what grew my hair and with it up,I use less perms.leave-in conditioners I love,but even then you have to watchout for them.least heat more hair,love and care for the hair like its a child.I love it

  • Kay

    Some Black girls can have long hair, yet mine refuses to grow! I haven’t had a relaxer in about 5 years. Since all of my relaxed, damaged hair fell out, my head is totally natural. I wash my hair regularly, I don’t use heat on it, yet my type four kinky TWA refuses to grow. Refuses. Ugh. I just want some hair! It doesn’t have to be Beyonce yaki hair, but why I can’t just I have some! If only I could look like that girl in the stock photo… :(

    • lyaries19

      Your hair might be breaking faster than it grows and that may be the problem. Change your regimen and keep a journal. it will help you find out what works and what doesn’t work for your hair type. I have a few videos on you tube that you can watch if it helps. :-)

    • http://allnaptural.blogspot.com/ Laquita

      Hello Kay, I agree with s19 100% – Also you should get Chicoro’s Book Grow It – How to Grow Afro Textured Hair… there are some really great tips in there.

      Also check out the Coco and Creme ariticle on her/her top ten growing tips here – http://cocoandcreme.com/2010/10/chicoro%E2%80%99s-ten-steps-to-gain-and-retain-hair-length/ – within the article there is a link to her site where you can get free tips via email as well.

    • binks

      No, your hair can grow. It depends on your regimen and the products you are using and the methods you imply on your hair such as protective styling, proper combing/detangling, deep condition regularly, products that specifically fits you, moisture/protein balance of your hair, do you moisturize your hair everyday since hair needs moisture to thrill, etc. There is a lot that goes into hair growth so people can grow long hair without even doing nothing to it while others have put a lot of work and TLC into it and you maybe the latter.

      I think both Lyaries19 and Laquita hit upon some great points that maybe your hair is breaking/shedding faster than it grows so your not really retenting length. Their are great websites and books out there that can help I suggest youtube (particularly the guru name Kimmytube) because her hair was the same way, books, and websites such as this one Black girls with long hair, Curly Nikki, and a few others

    • Jantrail

      I have a natural afro as well…The best thing that I do for my hair is keep my scalp greased, and keep it braided or platted…unless I am going out somewhere. It’s also best to plat or braid it tightly…..when I take my hair a loose I see the difference in the length…This really helps…..I hope it does the same for you. Much Peace.

  • travis Wicker

    My sister have been having trouble with her hair every since she was a kid. Lately it has just broken off completely in the top and by reading your comments I think its because she keeps sewins in her hair all the time..she will not go without it..she just love hair down her back…is there anyway to keep her hair healthy and keep the sew ins…what can she do?? anybody??

    • binks

      Does she treat her hair and scalp before she gets her sew ins or in between them? One thing I see a lot of women do is neglect their hair/scalp because they have extensions or braids which is something you shouldn’t. I know sew ins are a protective style but she has to be mindful of how the person does it by making sure that it isn’t to tight and that its not pulling at her hair. Secondly, she should let her hair/scalp rest for at least a week or so before getting another one in because it could be to much stress on her hair back to back especially if she relax. Or tell her to look into a great wig to give her hair a break also, their are some great wigs out there that will give her the look of a sew in but will let her hair “breathe” so she can build a heathly hair regimen around it to take care of it

  • http://memyhairandthecity.com Adrienne

    With the proper care our hair can grow to longer lengths. Unfortunately, several African American women do not know how to effectively care for their hair.

    We lean on quick fixes and invest large sums of money in weave to obtain the “look” we want. I don’t find anything wrong with extensions or weaves. But, if ladies were to invest the same amount of time, money & effort into educating themselves on their hair they may not have to resort to wearing wigs and/or weaves.

  • http://www.questfortheperfectcurl.wordpress.com Elle

    Of course our hair grows! I just wanted to say I am loving that picture of Yaya! I can’t wait for my hair to be that big.

  • Lucky

    Chelsea nailed it! In order to maintain length, the dead ends must be trimmed, and that’s my problem. For the past year, I’ve been growing my hair. It’s now APL, but my ends are horrible! I don’t want to let go of my length. I’m going to have to get my mind right, because it’s the health of the hair that’s most important….but dang!

    • Lucky

      Sorry, I meant “In order to retain length…”

  • http://www.RealTalk123.com Alesia Michelle

    A couple of weekes ago I wrote a blog post about my Hair because I was sick of everyone asking me about what I do to my hair. My hair has always been long. I cut my hair frequently but it always grows back. I believe that length can be attained through taking care of your hair, but I think genetics do play a BIG role. I kinda take care of my hair… I dye it A LOT! I Perm it SOmentimes… But I’ve never been consitent when it comes to taking GOOD (PROPER) care of my hair… Yet, it still grows. So I believe that sometimes it is in your genes…
    at least for me it must be…

  • Beauty79

    If i know one thing for sure it’s that some things are a journey especially with hair. My own personal hair experience is that my hair grows at a moderate rate and healthy and thick without a relaxer. i have a few hair horror stories from back in the day from overuse of dye and using relaxers that are too strong. I have just been blessed that my hair has always grown back. I don’t overprocess my hair and i try to keep it moisturized even if its just with grease. Also trimming your ends and deep conditioning is a key factor whether you are natural or relaxed.The more chemical processes you use is the more you must treat your hair.Some people that relax also use relaxers that are too strong.I remember using a regular and even a super to achieve straightness,when i really just needed a mild relaxer.Also some people ‘s hair is not meant to relax and it falls no matter what they do. I know several people like this. They dont relax anymore and their hair grows really nice now.With black hair we have so many different textures ,so what will work for you may not work for someone else.I think everyone that has addressed the keeping your scalp moisturized is absolutely right. As for Mr. Travis Wicker maybe your sister has a sensitive scalp and doesn’t need fake hair at all. My own sister used a relaxer then would only get sew in waeves and that didnt work for her either.Her hair never grew. Then one day she said she wanted to try locks .That was a year and a half ago.Best thing she could have ever done.Her hair is so thick and beautiful now and this is the longest i’ve ever seen it since we were kids.

  • Peaches

    no one has mentioned the growth cycles that hair goes through. Doesnt this have something to do with the life time of hair?

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