Three Natural Black Hair Myths

1. Black people's hair doesn't grow or isn't long

This myth is huge and even believed by a lot of black men and women themselves, but let's think about this: why would a black person need a barber or a hairstylist, or go for haircuts in general if their hair didn't grow? What are they doing in there? Just walking around in circles?!? Nope, black hair grows just like European hair, Asian hair, Hispanic hair...well, you get the point...on average about a half inch per month.

The reasons many believe it doesn't grow are two fold: number 1 is, a lot of women and men with natural hair find the upkeep of longer natural hair very difficult and time consuming, and for many it can be, so to cut down on this, they keep their hair short or wear it in shorter or protective styling (i.e. braids, weaves, wigs) and don't actually allow it to grow long. The second reason you don't tend to see the growth that exists is because of the curl pattern. Natural black hair tends to be very curly, coily, and kinky. Think of people with straight hair as having jump rope hair. The rope when laid to the ground pulled end to end, is relatively straight with no bends. Black hair is more like a slinky. You lay it down, and it is coiled up tight, however, if you pull out that slinky from end to end, what looked on first inspection to have been 6 inches, suddenly turns to 2 ft. Black people refer to this as shrinkage which can be seen in examples in the photos above.

This is what chemical relaxers and heat straightening do to black hair. They relax the curls and straighten them out so you can actually see the length. Unfortunately, these processes can be very damaging to hair, so in order to maintain health and strength, a lot of people would much rather cut the hair then damage it in order to have their actual hair length visible.

2. You can't "do" anything with it

Say what? Black hair is some of the most versatile hair on the planet that can be styled in a million different ways, and that's before you even add a drop of chemical into it. The problem with this myth is that a lot of black women and men face hairstylists who consider their hair unworkable. All they can think is to attempt to comb it out into an Afro or cut it. It can be very frustrating because there is so much that can be done to it, and yet in the hair industry, you have a lot of Beauty schools and stylists who willfully do not teach or learn how to style black hair, and yet, these are potential paying clients like everyone else. These same stylists will do European hair, Asian, or Hispanic hair, but will refuse to learn and/or specifically do black hair. It is part of the racism that is routinely felt within the hair industry directed towards black men and women.

3. Black hair is automatically wild and dirty

In many a dress code across this nation, and the world at large, repeatedly, above any other race, black hair is continually targeted and labeled as being wild, unkempt, unnatural, and in need of control...or else. That or else means, a child or person can be kicked out of school, work, or told that they need to chemically damage their hair in order to give it a European appearance.

Natural black hair is NOT straight hair and never will be. In it's longer state, it cannot be brushed down and smoothed out nor is it meant to be, and to do so could permanently damage the hair especially with the aid of chemicals. Black hair is naturally curly and it grows out of the head in a curly way. It doesn't grow straight down, so another raced individual with the same length of long hair may be cascading down his/her shoulders as compared to the African American employee who's hair may be sitting up higher on the head. If an employer or school does not equally require person A to cut their hair, why do those policies only seem to pertain to those with natural curly kinky hair?

To be told your hair is somehow wrong or needs fixing or you're unfit for an education or to work somewhere is both offensive and racist, and shows a severe lack of knowledge on the part of a lot of individuals. Of course, every place should require that hair be on display in a neat manner, and you'd be hard pressed to find people who disagree with that no matter the race, but when those dress codes take neat to mean, hair can ONLY be straight which then = neat, or they specifically only describe natural hairstyles as "EXTREME!" they are purposefully creating exclusionary and discriminatory policies

Also, just because a person has dreadlocks, in particular, does not mean they never wash their hair. You can find people with dirty nasty hair in any race, but a particular style should not automatically mean this is a person who doesn't take care of their hair or themselves. Dreads, like any other hair that anyone else might have on their head that grows naturally, can be washed, and most people with dreadlocks and natural styles do wash their hair frequently. Seriously, you have to explain this to some people.


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Most Helpful Guy

  • These are all stereotypes that have to be squashed. The only way to cure ignorance is with knowledge and you're providing a good bit of that in your take.

    Nobody should be shamed into changing natural hairstyles for the sake of professionalism or any such nonsense like that.. That's like telling a white person that their hair is too flat or dead for the workplace or to be beautiful. People would cry 'reverse racism' if that happened.

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Most Helpful Girl

  • Thank youu.
    People automatically assume that my hair (in the photo) isn't mine, because; "black people can't grow long hair".

    That's some booty meat.
    Beautiful take 🖤

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Join the discussion

What Guys Said 19

  • I wish you would have included a little "Black" girl with her hair full of barettes. I just think they are so pretty.

    www.adorecolour.com/.../...738e12d299f23913dbc.jpg

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  • Loved this take.. And it's pretty damn insightful.. Great job.. And I love some of the styles posted..

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  • As a black American, I absolutely love and adore the natural hair movement! :-D

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  • people think black people's hair doesn't grow? if that is true that is incredibly hilarious

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    • Yes, it's true and now I'm going to explain you why it's like that. Since people who lives in a location where they don't see black people often they often only see them on images in books etc. In children books (in Norway for example) black people are portrayed as West-African people who lives in the tribes and all of them have short hair. None of the books or illustration mention any haircuts and therefor some children tends to believe they can't grow longer hair and believes in other things like Africa only being one country instead of a continent too. Most adults knows they can grow longer hair, but they who don't do any research or pay extra attention don't know it thanks to how the entertainment portrays black people. It was mostly in the past people thought so. People gets to know more with TV, internet etc. today.

    • Another reason is because often black men and women choose to cut their hair very short since it's seen as more professional and some people haven't seen so many black people with long hair. Nowadays there's many black people with long hair and black people who straightening it almost everywhere. But fashion changes. So time, fashion, area and which people who lives there is factors. When I was a kid I believed in both of these things like Africa being a single country and black people can't grow long hair before I was educated.

    • @curiousnorway i didn't know that thought was wide spread. guess i'd just never heard it

  • Never heard of these myths, I'm black and my hair grows, see for yourself.

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  • " You can't "do" anything with it"
    You showed pics for girls, but what about guys?
    There are only 5 hair styles for us:
    bald, braids, dreads, afro, or low cut.

    I would like to know some more.

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    • I don't know if this is only something the younger males do, but at our school ponytails and knots (similar to bantu knots) are becoming more popular.

    • Most men have their natural hair cut low, and if it's long, it tends to be worn with dreads or cornrowed. I don't know many black men who curl, flat iron, wear wigs, or weaves in their hair, so in that respect, it may feel a bit limited to you, but there are literally thousands of ways to cut the hair and many ways to wear dreads if you have them. I posted a few.

  • most people know this... and the girl with all the different hairstyles... I mean black girls don't actually do that... all that often... if they did - I don't see how it would even be a topic of discussion...

    the fact is most black girls either use extensions, chemicals,... and the ones that don't just leave it be whatever it wants to be lol

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    • You probably need a bit more exposure to more black women. In my area, everyone is doing just about everything to their hair, long or short. Shaved up the side, braids, corn row styles, dread styles, dying it, curling it, twisting it, you name it. Thanks largely in part to YouTube and social media influencers, there is a lot more information out now vs. say, 10 or 20 years ago about how to style natural hair; so influencial in fact, it's been labeled the 'new' natural hair movement to differentiate it from that of the 60's and 70's which was more about black power. In modern times, it's more about learning to accept ones natural hair and to love it and style it chemical free.

    • I wear my hair naturally, my family hates it though and my sister and mom always wears wigs. I'm the only one who wears my actual hair, the sad thing about it is the only people who have a problem with curly or Afro hair hair are my parents. :/ I find it strange. My dad always permed his hair or cut it off, we never saw his texture of his hair.

    • He's right even with the natural movement, most black girls still wear weaves or wigs.

  • I still prefer natural reds.

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  • Interesting

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  • Is nice, very nice.

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  • Seems like a lot of work to maintain

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  • Good things to know.

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  • I have black hair but it isn't frizzy.

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  • Hair.

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  • Interesting

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  • Honestly, I was enjoying this take and found it very informative until it started crying racism.

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    • Well, by all means, explain how those situations I mentioned aren't racism. For example, how do you explain beauty schools refusing to teach students... in beauty school, how to do black hair and no other hair type or how do you explain school dress codes who list things like having an afro and corn row styles as extreme hairstyles when this is how black hair grows naturally from the head and how blacks style their hair? How can something you are naturally born with be extreme. That's no different than telling an Asian person, their eyes "should" be bigger because everyone else's eyes are that way.

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    • It was a great post right up until the last sentence.

      :D

    • @RolandCuthbert I was actually debating whether to say that or not, actually. I wanted to express that there was a time where people legitimately didn't know any better and I was running out of space to do so :|

  • nice hairstyles

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  • surprising length difference straightened?

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What Girls Said 22

  • excellent take!
    i have curly hair

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  • Thanks for this article, I am black and this is a great interpret that clears up misunderstandings

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  • Im gonna try some of those styles lol I already tried a few, but yea my hair always grew kinda long its a lot of work but I love my hair either way

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  • This myTake is awesome. It could be cool if some of gag folks with natural [black] hair collaborated and did a myTake series of how to take care of and maintain natural [black] hair.

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  • Yasssssssss!

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  • My best friend is black, she is always changing her hair. Different colours, styles all the different braid.. I am so jealous of her hair. I love playing with her braids when she has it long.

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  • I LOVE my natural curls.

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  • There are also different types of black hair that you care in various ways, the second girl has my hair and it shrinks the same. One Caucasian touched me hair and said oh my god it's so soft, I know he didn't mean anything racist, I just think people don't expect kinky hair to be soft, but it depends on the hair. We carry all types of texture just like other races do.

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  • Great my take!

    I have curly hair (3b/3c) and I also have so much shrinkage, normally my hair passes my waist but when curly reaches till the bottom of my lower chest

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  • I've always thought the black women with long hair was an acceptable situation. But recently I learned that isn't the case at all. A lot of black women have long hair, it's just a matter of taking care of it.

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  • I absolutely love black hair I just dont fully understand some things. can you explain protective styling? what happens if you dont do it? thanks, I'd love to know more!

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    • Protective styling is used to protect our hair from breaking. Despite our hair usually being thick or course, it dries, tangles and breaks easily. An example of a protective style would be braids with extensions or a weave. It's protective because the ends of our hair aren't exposed so they don't break off as easily. Helps protect from split ends.

    • @kxera thanks for the info!

    • @Kxera beat me to the explanation, but summed it up perfectly. I'd also add that a lot of women with shorter hair protective style on a journey to growing their hair out long. Rather than wait what can be years to see even shrinkage style length, they opt for wigs, weaves, etc. so they can basically protect their hair while it grows and enjoy all the styling they want to in the process.

  • very informative post, i am a person of color myself with armpit length hair. i must say though that not because someones opinion about our hair is not what we want to hear, makes them racist. everyone is entitled to there own opinion, i know a lot of POC who have their opinions of Caucasian hair and they don't think it racist to say what they say because they are black, which is absurd.

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    • People are going to say what they say, but when one particular group is targeted because of their natural hair, or because of the color of their skin, it can be racist. Again, the point is not to say, if a dress code says cut your hair, it's racist, it's to say, if its going to say cut your hair because hair longer than shoulder length is too long, then don't require just the black, Asian, White person to cut their hair, but all because it's policy for all. Also how can you ban someone's natural hair as being "too extreme?" An afro is what grows from the African American head for most black people. These are the policies and codes that unfairly target black people and make it an issue, not everyone having to adhere to one policy that is applied to all.

  • Thank you for this post, it was very interesting to read. I feel like this will open the minds of a lot of closed minded individuals on here.

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    • Also, why is this in the sexual behavior tag? Maybe it was a mistake lol, but I just wanted to point that out to make sure you're aware. But again, thanks for the post!

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    • Ahh that sucks, thanks for letting me know about the issue though

    • You're welcome.

  • I've never heard any of these myths! Maybe I'm just out of touch.

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  • Great pics, I love hair styles, the possibilities are endless!

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  • This is so informative! Thanks
    I have straight brunette hair, but I have always been super envious of natural black hair.

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  • Yeah perceived stereotypes are as inane as they are damaging.

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  • way cool!

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  • I totally loved this👏👏i applaud you for this , learning somethin new each and everyday😊

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  • That's pretty interesting. I didn't know

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