When I first went nat­ur­al almost a decade ago, I was def­i­nite­ly the odd one out in many of my cir­cles. If you know any­thing about my sto­ry, you’ll remem­ber that my own moth­er was not real­ly sup­port­ive of the “nat­ur­al thing” I was doing. She once stood in front of the door, while I was on my way to work to ques­tion my “provoca­tive” choice of hair­style. I’m also pret­ty sure that if you start­ed around that time too, you might have received the same dis­ap­prov­ing mes­sage from your fam­i­ly, friends, neigh­bors and oth­ers.

It wasn’t before long that going nat­ur­al became more pop­u­lar. It was still a “new” thing even 5 years ago, but as a “new” thing it was gain­ing good trac­tion as women all over began to share their tips with the world via medi­ums like blogs ands YouTube. Black women were begin­ning to have more con­fi­dence in their hair and would see many oth­ers rock looks, styles and lengths that were at a time deemed pos­si­ble for only a select few, genet­i­cal­ly inclined ladies.

Coiffure Project Glenford Nunez

   Pho­to by Glen­ford Nunez


Nat­ur­al hair has come a long way. We now see it in so many places  in so many col­ors, lengths and styles, but is nat­ur­al hair, and even more specif­i­cal­ly, is nat­ur­al, long hair as inspir­ing and brim with mean­ing as it used to be?

I’ve had the oppor­tu­ni­ty to poll my sub­scribers on what is most impor­tant to them when it comes to nat­ur­al hair. I want­ed to get some raw data to help me dis­cov­er what kind of infor­ma­tion they real­ly want to see from me.

The first ques­tion I asked was, “what does grow­ing your nat­ur­al hair longer mean to you?” Three hun­dred eighty-four ladies respond­ed with var­i­ous answers but despite the col­lec­tion of var­i­ous answers, one type of answer reoc­curred and became one of the most promi­nent. That answer was some­where along the lines of, “My grow­ing longer hair means I am proof that my race doesn’t lim­it the length my hair can grow to.”

I found that par­tic­u­lar answer inter­est­ing because I would say and in fact, I have said the same thing. I grow and keep my hair long because I am com­pelled to want to prove people’s per­cep­tions of black women and in this case par­tic­u­lar­ly black women’s hair growth and beau­ty, wrong.

Now that there are so many black women on team #long­hair­dont­care, does grow­ing our nat­ur­al hair to healthy, longer lengths still mat­ter?

It’s clear to me on so many lev­els that this move­ment has always been about more than just hair, but should we con­tin­ue to allow the socio and psy­cho­log­i­cal impli­ca­tions of this move­ment influ­ence our cur­rent hair deci­sions?


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49 Comments on "Is Long Natural Hair Still the Ultimate Goal?"

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Ive always want­ed long hair since I was a kid.Doing the oppo­site hair routine(heat,combing it while wet,perms etc) always left it short.I even had a jeri curl back in mid­dle school!Lol.I did­nt go nat­ur­al til 2012 and thats when I start­ed tak­ing care of my hair.I still have a long ways to go before it gets long and want­i­ng long hair was and still IS one of the rea­sons I went natural.No shame in what you want.


Thanks for this infor­ma­tive arti­cle. I think it is impor­tant for any­one to let your hair grow and get healthy.


This is so sil­ly, this sham­ing of women for want­i­ng long hair. I know we live in a B.S p.c world but umm long hair + women is not some­thing new and isn’t going to change. RMFE

For me going nat­ur­al orig­i­nal­ly wasn’t pri­mar­i­ly about race or get­ting back to my roots. It was for eco­nom­i­cal rea­sons plus scalp burns are real­ly no fun. Even­tu­al­ly length did come into play because when I was relaxed I had long hair so I want­ed nat­ur­al long hair too. I blame soci­ety for asso­ci­at­ing long hair with wom­an­hood. Going nat­ur­al def­i­nite­ly broke me out of that notion though since I big chopped. Now 5 years in, it’s still pri­mar­i­ly not about length because my hair is right at my waist, 12+inches. I’ve ful­filled my eco­nom­i­cal goals; I don’t depend on… Read more »

I had long hair in the past, but I love my short­ies! I under­stand all women who wants long and beau­ti­ful hair.
If it is real­ly the ulti­mate goal for all can­not be answered so easy. I think the ulti­mate goal is to have healthy hair at all.


There is noth­ing to prove. I know black women are beau­ti­ful! I have to love me first, includ­ing my kinky nap­py beau­ti­ful hair for what it is. I have 4C-Z hair. It became eas­i­er for me to main­tain my hair with prod­ucts that work for my hair tex­ture, but I do not want to spend the whole day doing my hair either. 

At least with length, I can put it in a bun/ponytail. I am good at bra strap length. But if I am in the mood to cut my hair, I will do it.

Jay Medina

I think it still does mat­ter ! It mat­ters to me ! I think length also deter­mines whether your hair is healthy or not. Healthy hair grows ! It’s not the only thing that deter­mines your hair health but it’s one of them! So yes in my opin­ion, length does mat­ter !

Your hair will always look great if it gets the prop­er nutri­tion. It is impor­tant that hair nutri­tion is done from inside out. What you eat is vital to sup­port healthy hair and healthy body. In order to make sure I am pro­vid­ing all the nec­es­sary vit­a­mins for my hair I am tak­ing spe­cial nutri­tion­al sup­ple­ment, which con­tains the unique com­bi­na­tion of herbs and microele­ments. This sup­ple­ment is Hair­Gain For­mu­la (90 cap­sules) by Mil­i­tary Grade. This prod­uct is the only nutraceu­ti­cal which pos­sess­es prostaglandin D2 block­ing prop­er­ties. Awe­some nutri­tion­al prod­uct which defends my hair from falling out and enhances healthy… Read more »

I’ve been an on and off nat­ur­al for a long time, and only about 5 years ago, i made the effort to learn how to prop­er­ly care for my hair. My own hair supris­es me with the things it can do, includ­ing grow­ing past shoul­der length. I’ve seen all the evi­dence that 4b/c hair can grow very long, but im curi­ous about my own jour­ney. Yes, i want tail­bone length hair just so i can tick that off my list.


I have noth­ing to prove. Grow­ing my hair long is just some­thing I want to do for myself. I love weaves but tired of how cost­ly it can get. Once I get to a cer­tain length I’m giv­ing up weaves for good (Well going to try to lol). If ppl believe that our race can’t grow long hair then that’s there own igno­rance.

Even for­mer can­cer patients who’ve lost all their hair can grow long thick hair. Once again, some ppl are just plain igno­rant and I have noth­ing to prove to those kind of ppl.

growing it alone
I am con­fused by these com­ments! My 3c hair was much eas­i­er to man­age at waist length. Curls/coils relax with length, after I’d wash my hair, I’d just blow dry it with con­di­tion­er still on it and run my straight­ners over it at the low­est heat with a non greasy bees wax as a heat pro­tec­tant and seal­er as my hair wouldn’t break this way. It was a 2 hr rou­tine tops!  Short hair is a pain! I cut mine off due to get­ting over con­fi­dent with dying it and I grieve for it every day. No high pineap­ple buns, no sweep­ing… Read more »
It’s an indi­vid­ual jour­ney. If you want to prove to the world what you hair is capa­ble of, then do it. If it’s all about aes­thet­ics and you pre­fer the way long, short or medi­um length hair frames your face then wear it as you please. If you want to make a polit­i­cal state­ment, more pow­er to you. What­ev­er the rea­son, as long as there is no harm being done in any way, shape of form just let your­self be, no apolo­gies. As for me, grow­ing healthy hair mat­ters the most but I am also very curi­ous about my length… Read more »
Women should be more con­cerned with what they think of them­selves. Who are these black women who feel like they have some­thing to prove about their race? To me that’s just ridicu­lous. You grow long hair and then what? You get ques­tions like “is it real” or com­ments like “you must be mixed” it’s all point­less if that’s your objec­tive. To me it’s like ask­ing for val­i­da­tion. Edu­cat­ing oth­er black women about hair care and show­ing what our hair can do with an edu­ca­tion­al pur­pose or to instill pos­i­tive ideas about our beau­ty is one thing, but seek­ing val­i­da­tion by… Read more »
respect­ful­ly, i dis­agree. dis­prov­ing sterotypes is essen­tial for any race/culture in order to advance eco­nom­i­cal­ly and social­ly. i know it seems that hair is an insignif­i­cant issue but in the black/AA cul­ture it was a means to seper­ate and oppress our peo­ple. if any group of peo­ple are told that some­thing about them is not as good as anoth­er group that will effect the way the first group lives their lives and how they view them­selves. we have come a long way indi­vid­u­al­ly but as a whole there is still hate (group and self) that affects us. we may feel… Read more »

Yeah, I don’t get that. I like long hair for its ver­sa­til­i­ty. Because it’s long (when straight­ened) and shrinks, I have so many options (col­lar­bone length, tex­tured hair on Mon­day and straight mid-back length on Tues­day). LOVE! So, my long hair isn’t about any­one else. It’s about me enjoy­ing what I’ve been blessed with.
Maybe it’s because long hair isn’t new for me, but I real­ly don’t under­stand why one has to “prove” her­self to oth­er peo­ple. It’s your hair. It’s about you. Make sure YOU thor­ough­ly enjoy it.


I total­ly agree! ?????????????


Length is my goal because I miss my volu­mi­nous fro. My moth­er nev­er let me relax my hair until I hit high school, and I was so mad that my poofs wouldn’t puff that I decid­ed I wouldn’t go back…until Rihan­na cut her pix­ie. So now I’m back to nat­ur­al four years lat­er and eight months post BC and I am hap­py wait­ing for the day that my hair is long again. I just want to see what my hair can be when I just leave it alone and don’t do any­thing to it besides con­di­tion and trim.


thumbs down.…


I like how long hair looks on me, i feel my face is too fat for short hair, & I pret­ty much had long hair all my life. So yes long hair is still a goal to be because I’m aim­ing for waist length & healthy hair because it’s like mid back I guess but just try­ing to keep it healthy.


Tbh I’m young nobody around me has long hair and tail­bone is the ulti­mate goal and I“ve had peo­ple tell me when I was younger,especiallyin ele­men­tary school “Black Girls can’t grow long hair unless they’re mized with some­thing” and that caused me to hate my hair grow­ing up. So length is the ulti­mat goal and yeah health is in there too cause you cant grow long unhealthy hair

Let me pref­ace this by say­ing that when I first decid­ed to grow my nat­ur­al hair long (this was about 15 years ago, and 4 years after I first went nat­ur­al) I too had this desire to prove that black women could grow long hair. More specif­i­cal­ly, I want­ed to prove that a black woman like me — dark-skinned, nap­py-head­ed, nev­er had hair longer than SL — could grow long hair. (I’ve always known black girls and women with long hair but they were few and far between in my lit­tle cor­ner of the world.) I can’t say exact­ly when the… Read more »

Yesssss to this!

I hit Post too soon… To clar­i­fy my state­ment about fine tight­ly-coiled nat­ur­al hair being worn long and loose, I myself wear mine loose pret­ty much exclu­sive­ly and I’m in “APL ter­ri­to­ry”, lol. How­ev­er, I know for a fact that I don’t retain near­ly as much length as I would were I to wear twists or loc my hair. Part of that has to do with the fact that I no longer have the time and patience to baby my hair the way it would need to be babied in order for me to retain more length. Peo­ple with straight hair… Read more »
exact­ly this! this is what i had to real­ize about two years ago. i could have long hair eas­i­ly if i were will­ing to keep my hair in pro­tec­tive styles non­stop (hence why i had mid back length hair all through child­hood up to my teen years with­out ever hav­ing to wor­ry about length; in fact, i took it for grant­ed) or loc it up (the ulti­mate PS). leav­ing my hair loose and to the ele­ments is a whole nother sto­ry but i just pre­fer my hair loose. i wear WNGs all the time because i like the fuller look… Read more »
The long hair thing real­ly throws me about nat­u­rals because it isn’t always a good look for ALL women. When I first went nat­ur­al back in 2002 I just want­ed nat­ur­al hair peri­od. Didn’t real­ly think about length checks or length goals. I just didn’t want to of the mind set of I had to have a relax­er to be accept­able. I had been doing so much read­ing and inves­ti­ga­tion of my cul­ture that I no longer felt com­fort­able chang­ing my hair tex­ture any­more. To this day I am not com­fort­able with straight hair. Now I caught the #longhairdon’tcare bug… Read more »

I’ve been nat­ur­al for 5 years, and I trim my hair at least once a year. I went nat­ur­al because I had one too many bad relax­er expe­ri­ences. I also was curi­ous to see what my nat­ur­al hair tex­ture was like (my mom had relaxed my hair since age 3). When straight­ened, I keep my hair at shoul­der length because it’s just eas­i­est to man­age that way. I am capa­ble of grow­ing it longer but I per­son­al­ly choose not to because the short­er my hair is, the less time it takes to do it.

Miss Elisa K.

At first I want­ed long beau­ti­ful nat­ur­al hair. But now I just want healthy hair I can man­age. I know my lifestyle will nev­er be con­ducive for long nat­ur­al hair, unless I get me some more coins and can afford a good hair­styl­ist I trust. Until that time, shoul­der-length is good for me.

Inter­est­ing ques­tion. I’ve seen a lot of peo­ple who don’t treat grow­ing their hair out as the main goal and main­tain a short­er length that is well main­tained and styled who do seem like they’re as much in con­trol of their hair health as some­one who’s got­ten real­ly good at grow­ing it out. Per­son­al­ly, I’m try­ing to grow my hair out to be rea­son­ably long (not so long that it becomes a chore, though.. prob­a­bly mid-back at the longest). Part of this, hon­est­ly, is that (as a pre­vi­ous poster com­ment­ed) long hair is some­thing that seems to con­fer some­thing in… Read more »

I’m just curi­ous to see how long my hair can get before I start to not want to do it lol


YESSSS, long hair is the ulti­mate goal but I love the look of nat­ur­al hair was the rea­son for going nat­ur­al, long hair is just a bonus. Cur­rent­ly at APL goal is BSL!!

PS. This site isnt the same any­more isnt the thumbs up n down was remove and all the mon­i­tor­ing. Post dont even get as many com­ments…


I’m glad the thumbs up thumbs down but­tons are gone. They were fuel for fire. I feel peo­ple felt braver when they had a com­ment that had many thumbs up, and this would encour­age them to com­ment again. Com­ments that got thumbs down would gen­er­ate more neg­a­tiv­i­ty, and often times there was no com­ment to jus­ti­fy why the thumbs down was giv­en. It was becom­ing a real­ly neg­a­tive space and I swear to you, the very week they took it down was going to be my last week on this site, because the com­ment sec­tion was becom­ing a beast.


I’ve noticed that to mean­while CN has tons of com­ments and inter­est­ing arti­cle and it seems like they use CN arti­cles but few changes this site needs a change in good way

Nappy 4C Rocks

yes, thumbs up!

Nappy 4C Rocks

what about healthy nat­ur­al hair? Do you con­sid­er healthy nat­ur­al hair a bonus? Or if the hair is long than that is ok?


hmmm this is inter­est­ing , i nev­er real­ly thought about grow­ing my hair long for that rea­son. my rea­son is because i sim­ply love long hair, i dont think we should grow our hair out just to prove a point. who cares what oth­er ppl think? if ppl think nat­ur­al hair/relaxed hair cant grow long then thats their igno­rance…

I think it still is. When I big chopped I cut off 18 inch­es of relaxed hair. The white styl­ist was shocked and was excit­ed at the oppor­tu­ni­ty to cut “hair my tex­ture”. I felt proud that I could dis­pel the myth that a black woman’s hair can’t grow long and healthy, and that if it does she would nev­er cut it because it wouldn’t grow back. I had long hair the major­i­ty of my life, so nat­u­ral­ly I would want to grow it back out long. I don’t real­ly care about tex­ture. There was no real rea­son for me… Read more »

I have 3b hair and its not that thick so its real­ly hard for me to main­tain a lot of vol­ume. when i start­ed my nat­ur­al jour­ney i want­ed long hair but once my hair reached mid back length i had no vol­ume my curls seemed real­ly flat so i cut lay­ers and made my hair a few inch­es short­er. once you get longer hair you real­ize that you have to sac­ri­fice a lot exam­ples: vol­ume, time, more mon­ey for prod­ucts, ect.


For me it is. I just like the look of long curly hair. No apolo­gies!

Kit Lang
My goal (but I’m new to this — just six months) is to have shoul­der length hair. Just long enough that I can do things with it besides a cinnabun or wash and go.  I had relaxed hair that was near­ly waist-length when I was in my 20’s and always *thought* I want­ed long hair again, but every time it got to shoul­der length, I would chop it off, some­times right back to TWA — but I always tex­tur­ized it and end­ed up relax­ing as it grew and so went the cycle. Now my nat­ur­al hair is long enough to have a… Read more »
naturally Tee

I think I just want oth­er black women who are not nat­ur­al to see the proof is in the pud­ding. Every­time I hear some­one that isn’t nat­ur­al say your hair is pret­ty but nat­ur­al isn’t for me. I just want to shake them and say it’s what is nat­u­ral­ly grow­ing from your head some­thing can’t be more for you than that. I think that’s what keeps me going some­where there is a girl who may final­ly decide to leave the creamy crack alone because of my hair


If a woman with nat­ur­al hair wants to wear her hair short, there’s noth­ing wrong with that at all.

Per­son­al­ly, I am grow­ing my hair out (it comes to my col­lar­bone now).

Hon­est­ly, I think that it does. A lot of us wore weaves to make our hair appear longer and now we want to achieve that same look but with­out the cost. My basis behind going nat­ur­al was sim­ply because after watch­ing Chris Rock’s “Good Hair” and see­ing what relax­ers do to a can of soda. Num­ber 1 it shocked me and num­ber 2 my hair nev­er grew passed a cer­tain length. My hair is now bra strap length and still grow­ing. Relax­ers aren’t meant for every­one and I love and want peo­ple to embrace there long nat­ur­al hair. Not just… Read more »

I start­ed tran­si­tion­ing after see­ing that soda can part too.

It’s def­i­nite­ly an inter­est­ing ques­tion. I’ve been nat­ur­al now for over 3 years and have achieved my goal of waist length hair. When I ini­tial­ly set that goal for myself, peo­ple around me would either straight up laugh at my “lofty” aim, or just look at me with the skep­ti­cism of some­one who doesn’t believe what you’re say­ing is pos­si­ble, but doesn’t want to rain on your parade either. Three and a half years lat­er, the oth­er women in my fam­i­ly who thought my hair looked “dry and unkempt” right after my big chop ask me how I got my… Read more »
There are cer­tain things that give men pow­er and cer­tain things that give women pow­er (in gen­er­al, but obvi­ous­ly, there are excep­tions). Long hair give women pow­er. A woman can be aver­age look­ing but if her hair is long, she is per­ceived to be more attrac­tive, more fem­i­nine, etc. And just look­ing more stereo­typ­i­cal­ly fem­i­nine is gen­er­al gives women more pow­er, imo. Wear­ing dress­es, heels, make­up, behav­ing in a more stereo­typ­i­cal­ly fem­i­nine man­ner gives you more pow­er. Black women are the ones who are con­stant­ly being told how we are the least fem­i­nine. Even when we have long weave in… Read more »

I agree this is why I’m get­ting a kinky curly afro wig that is nat­ur­al and looks like my nat­ur­al hair . Watch the com­pli­ments come only and I cut my real hair short months ago but I feel like a boy some­times so I hide it under scarfs and hats soon my afro wig will be com­ing in and I’m excit­ed .


I wish they would bring back the thumbs up but­ton cause you nailed it. Every­thing you said is so on point and I com­plete­ly agree you. You stat­ed it so per­fect­ly.


Agreed. I hate that we are con­stant­ly viewed as not fem­i­nine by our own men and men who belong to oth­er racial and nation­al­i­ty groups.


thumbs up!