Shrinkage Is Real BUT It’s Not That Big Of A Deal – What It Has Taught Me


“Shrinkage is real.” When I saw that phrase floating around social media before I made my journey to natural I didn’t really think how it would affect my own strands. Maybe I should have known what I would be in for because of the stories my mother shared with me from my childhood.

Before I got my first “Just For Me” relaxer put in at the age of five, my mother said that she would fix my curls nicely for occasions, such as pictures, and by the end of the day my curls would have shriveled up to nothing. The Florida heat didn’t help either.

But I unconsciously pushed this memory to the back of my mind and only revisited lately since I’ve been getting frustrated with my shrinkage.
I am almost two years into my natural journey and looking at my fro and comparing it to other 2 year naturals, I feel that it looks a lot shorter. “Is my hair not growing as fast as theirs?” I would ask myself. What’s different with mine?!

Yes, I had a color fail at the start of my journey where I mistakingly double processed about 3 inches of my hair which later had to be chopped but I’m still wondering at how short my hair “looks”.
I’ve attempted just about all the “stretching” techniques to no avail. Not to mention my wash n’ gos don’t really do my hair justice and leave me with an itty bitty TWA.
I recently decided to look at old photos as a way to examine the growth of my hair. While I can see advancement there is still the frustration of the fact that a twist out will end up drawn up and frizzed in the event any moisture or humidity comes into contact with it. *sigh* Joys of fine high porosity hair.
It wasn’t until three nights ago when I randomly blew my hair out and could clearly see the tremendous growth. Grabbing a section of hair and stretching it down I could see that currently my hair almost reaches my shoulders. Most would never guess that by merely looking at my short fro. Hey I didn’t even know that it did because I typically don’t do “length checks” very often.

I plan to straighten it in December for my 2 year naturalversary and because I’ve never worn it straight I’m actually looking forward to it.

As I stared at myself in the mirror I couldn’t help but to smile because I could see how my hard work has paid off. All those hours of maintenance and care on wash days are worth it.
And it was at this moment that I realized that shrinkage is real BUT it’s not that big of a deal.
I’ve noticed that the word shrinkage has always had a negative connotation attached to it, but why?
The makeup of our hair is through coils. A joined sequence of concentric rings. It naturally folds on top of each other and when pulled straight it is typically double the length.

You also have to keep in mind that in addition everyone doesn’t experience the same amount of shrinkage.

It goes hand in hand with the truth that everyone’s hair is different. Just like the fact that I know I shouldn’t compare my curl pattern to the next natural, I shouldn’t compare my shrinkage either.

What I can say about the benefits of shrinkage is that it adds more versatility to my hair. I can fake a taper by wetting the back and sides of my hair and allowing it to curl tighter than the top of my hair that is stretched by way of a twist out.

Also there’s a chance that if I had a looser curl pattern that when I straighten it the curls wouldn’t bounce back so easily.

So what if someone says my hair hasn’t “grown” or if when it’s stretched people stare at it in amazement like “OMG your hair has grown so much in 2 days!” only for me to wash it and it shrinks back down again.

I take care of it, I keep healthy and I can see the growth. It’s possible that 5 years from now my fro might look a tad bit bigger but still “short” in it’s natural state but when straightened it will flow down my back. Or maybe it will loosen up as time goes on? Who knows?! And that’s the joy of this natural hair journey.

I also have to note that, honestly, wasn’t the whole point of my decision to go natural to take pride in the way my hair grows from my scalp? Instead of constantly fighting it and become frustrated I’ve learned I should embrace it.
Will I stop attempting to “stretch” my hair? Heck no! But I will try to stop complaining so much about it and continue to do the styles that I enjoy and learn more about myself and my hair along the way.

Truth is shrinkage is real. Accept it and make it work for you!

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