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Are Shrunken 4C Fros Considered Unattractive in the Natural Community?

Avatar • Jun 22, 2014

fro

Ironically I’m sitting here with a “wash’n go” in the literal form. I washed my hair, put some leave in conditioner in that joint and walked out the door. 10 years ago I would’ve NEVER done this. I at minimum had to put it in a puff, but today I was 100% good on this and it’s shrunken up in all its nappy glory right now and I know I look cute LOL!” 
Glamazini

One of the great things about going natural these days is that you are not alone. There are tons of other women in your corner and rocking their kinks, coils or curls. There are many useful resources that are available online. Never have I seen so many books and media catered to our natural hair. “Natural” is becoming more mainstream and less ‘unusual’, for lack of a better word. Don’t get me wrong; the wearing of our natural hair – especially in “all its nappy/kinky/coily/curly glory” – still does receive pushback in a few professions, circles, etc. However, to wear it this way is hardly an oddity in 2014.

Though I big chopped about six years ago, I can imagine what it would’ve been like to do so ten years ago. Six years ago, I was being told, “You should go back to a relaxer … your hair is too thick” and asked, “What statement are you trying to make by not relaxing your hair?” Even a visit to a natural hair salon warranted some reference to my “grade of hair” which the stylists implied should be in “locs”. I also remember a non-hair-related event I attended where a natural woman volunteered (because I sure did not ask her) to show me how to care for my “dry-looking” natural hair. All these comments came up when I would rock my ‘fro, whether slightly stretched OR shrunken, but nonetheless with kinks and coils still very visible. The alternative – wearing twists – seemed to please everyone around me and yield a resounding, “That’s much better”.

Other than folks telling me about my hair and what I should do with it, resources for natural hair care were few and far between when I big chopped in 2008. I mean, keep in mind that BGLH was just beginning and numerous other natural hair care blogs had not yet been born. Two of my biggest inspirations and resources were a couple of friends who had been natural for quite a while, two natural-haired women on Fotki (a photo album site), and a couple of hair care boards.   This was all just six years ago.

When I big chopped, I had plenty of external pressure to do something – relax, loc, braid, etc. – to my kinks, but none of that phased me because I knew the beauty and possibilities of my hair from those few but impressionable Fotki albums. Now, had I big chopped ten years ago, I don’t know that I would’ve made it past a couple months being natural given two times the social pressure that might’ve existed then and the reality that those inspirational naturals I looked to might have still been using relaxers. I might’ve gone back to the “creamy crack” or hid my natural hair under braid extensions for who knows how long. However, I’m so glad I big chopped when I did because my mind was ready at that point.

It is amazing to me how natural hair has become increasingly accepted these days. I’ve never felt so “normal” walking down the street in a shrunken ‘fro or going to speak to a professor from a different generation and background with my kinks and coils “naked and exposed”. Also, though I don’t like to admit that the external can sometimes impact my internal, it is positive places (like BGLH) and positive people who have made me feel okay rocking my ‘fro.

Are you comfortable wearing your natural hair in all its kinky/coily/curly glory? Share your experiences and thoughts!

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Evelyn Soetono
6 years ago

I’ve only relaxed my hair for a short period of time in my life (less than a year)and otherwise used braids/weaves to make myself look “presentable”. I’ve BC’ed so many times and have run to braids to cover my kinks, but I do have to say that this time around March 2014)I have ZERO reservations about my hair being short and nappity natural. In fact, I hopped out the barber chair, traveled home without feeling people were staring at my hair, took a selfie and threw that up on the interwebs with pride. This is for sure due to regularly… Read more »

lala
lala
6 years ago

i have 4b/4a hair and i couldnt agree more. overall, its about self-love and understanding that looser textures are not for everyone and are usually imposed on society as the “best” because, despite the curls, resembles the european strands the closest. but i have noticed there is less stigma attached to my fro, and more of an acceptance — outside and in. i mean in africa, tight coils are normal.

silkynaps
silkynaps
6 years ago

I love to see naturals love and appreciate the beautiful hair that grows naturally from our scalps, but we have to be patient with those that don’t. 400 years of mental conditioning will not reverse itself overnight.

db
db
6 years ago

I don’t usually wear my hair in it’s shrunken state because it’s not good for it, but I really like the look now. For the longest time I didn’t like that it wouldn’t stay defined once it dried, but I’ve come to accept my hair for what it is. Most instructional videos focus on maintaining large curls, but WNGs are supposed to be about simplicity, not spending a bunch of time to make your hair look a certain way.

Deedeemaha
Deedeemaha
6 years ago
Reply to  db

When my hair was shorter (3inches) I could wear shunken fro no problem. I loved it. The first time I wore a wng I had to because I had a lot of errands to do. I never had so many doors open literally. “Hello ’ s , “what can I do for you” etc. I was wondering if they thought I was a lost child. It was easy and fast, plus I find not know what I was doing. Fast forward (12 inches of 4b/c). It’s a tangled mess. I have tried it just to much. Can someone tell me, How did… Read more »

mary
mary
6 years ago
Reply to  Deedeemaha

I wore a fro in the 70’s and we just did it. When I first B/C’d it was 1969, and I wore it shrunken for a couple of years. Then cornrows became popular and I braided and pin curled or did cornrows to mine every night then picked it out in the morning. We all used some form of grease in our hair and that may be the difference. We wore them out year round. I think my hair shrinks and tangles less with hair grease and I don’t remember all the dryness. This time around, I am having a… Read more »

Stace
Stace
6 years ago
Reply to  mary

I want to hear more stories from people like yourself, who were around for that first natural hair revival. I think its so interesting and seemingly a piece of lost history. I just don’t understand how within the decade btwn the 70’s and the 90’s, knowledge just became lost. I was never one to think of a relaxer as creamy crack, as I wasn’t addicted to it or didn’t initially want one. However, when I think that its rise coincided with the crack epidemic that hit the urban areas in the 80’s one has to wonder. I want to hear… Read more »

So pleased
So pleased
6 years ago
Reply to  Deedeemaha

Back In those days many people would platt (spelling) up their hair for bed, may be even put them on sponge rollers, then undo that in the morning and pick it out. Also anyone remember the Ultrsheen blowout kit? Really showing me age now.

mlank64
mlank64
6 years ago
Reply to  So pleased

I remember ultrasheen and afrosheen…and yes I’m old enough to have had an afro in the 70s. Although my afro was rather pathetic.…I couldn’t get it to stay fro like…it would flop down eventually. I didn’t appreciate my curls back then…funny how perceptions have changed.

Sistah
Sistah
6 years ago
Reply to  Deedeemaha

I’ve worn my hair natural since I was in my early teens (late 1960s). Back then, you would have a wash hour (not a whole day) once a week, grease your hair and scalp (using Afro sheen, Royal Crown or something like that), comb/brush your hair thoroughly, divide your hair into 6–8 parts, and braid each part. Let your hair air dry, then pick it out with a pick. That’s it. I’d also go to a barber (usually before I washed it), and he would pick my hair out, and then shape it up with scissors. For the record, your… Read more »

Elle
Elle
6 years ago
Reply to  Deedeemaha

I agree with Mary. The grease used back then had lanolin as a main component. Lanolin is a humectant, emollient and sealant. I won’t use mineral oil or petroleum again, but I do use USP-grade lanolin and sometimes mix it with an oil. It makes ALL the difference for me because these newer leave-ins and puddings and creams are ‘okay’ but dry my hair out and don’t give me the same fluffiness.

Also, the same as Mary, my mom plaited all our hair and rolled the ends at night to keep a fro that stayed floofier throughout the day.

Stace
Stace
6 years ago
Reply to  Elle

Yes my mom had some lanolin the other month and I used just a little bit and it really was good. I plan on getting my own and incorporating it into my hair care. Mixed with some oil like jojoba or grape seed was what I was thinking. I almost forgot, thanks for reminding me.

anastasia
anastasia
6 years ago
Reply to  Stace

Thanks for the memories ladies! Hey ladies: If you are willing to try products that are not all-natural, you may want to give some of the old school products a go like StaSofFro lanolin ‘comb out’ spray which is a personal favorite for my 4abc hair. I use it straight from the bottle, or if I’m feeling both fancy and frugal, mix it w/ Oyin’s Juices & Berries or Frank Juice. For a ‘soul’ flash back: Check out the old Afro-Sheen Ads on youtube from the 60s and 70s! Don’t forget ladies, people also donned Afro wigs back then too as… Read more »

Angel
Angel
6 years ago

Shrunken up 4c hair is beautiful. You must love yourself and embrace your hair. It is natural, it is the way God made your hair and no one should think otherwise.

D
D
6 years ago

Can’t wait to finish my transition (18 months and counting) so I can wear my 4c hair in a fro!

lablooplah
lablooplah
6 years ago

excellent post!

geraldine
6 years ago

My hair is 4b. It is also that very fine type of super kinky. When it became wet and shrunk and was very easily tangled .This led to hair loss just trying to comb it out if I let it dry without combing first. On the other hand if I combed while wet I lost the tight curl pattern and looked wiry like I had been electrocuted. Finally years ago I decided to loc. They are small but not micro locks like the typical sister loc look. To be honest I like the convenience of no combing after activities like… Read more »

Missc
Missc
6 years ago

Yes yes yes! My fro is my go to for right now. 🙂

Eve
Eve
6 years ago

Who said shrunken fros are not okay? It’s not okay until YOU convince yourself. “Society can say something”, but it’s upto you to believe in your heart and manifest negative thoughts to reality.

it’s upto YOU to change YOUR perspective

Personal responsibility

You= anyone.

Rms
Rms
6 years ago
Reply to  Eve

As usual the empathy for black women is non existence. It’s funny and ironic when a white woman is crying on television about her battling anorexia a flood of empathy and heartfelt words are given to her and society is to blame . But when it’s us battling the terrible affects of white surpremacy it’s our fault. Probaly why so many young black girls are battling with what they see in front of the mirror . I just love your words of love… Smh

folamix
folamix
6 years ago

I wore a fro in the 70s and shrinkage was no issue. We just sprayed with Afro Sheen, picked it out and out the door. I plaited my hair each and every night, no big deal and I had a big fro. I religiously visited the barber to keep it shaped up. The reason I stopped was because of the lack of versatility in styles, although now I pretty much wear it in a twistout now but it usually frizzes up into a fro. But that doesn’t bother me because that is what my hair does. It amuses me to… Read more »

Elle
Elle
6 years ago
Reply to  folamix

It amuses me to see the emphasis on shrinkage and curl definition that is prevalent now”

Amen! It’s actually offensive.

anastasia
anastasia
6 years ago
Reply to  Elle

+100

LBell
LBell
6 years ago
Reply to  folamix

SO glad to see you and mary (above) representing the 1970s…young folks kill me trying to act like natural hair is brand new… 😉 I was a kid in the 70s and I remember how folks did what was called “the natural.” Just as you described: Plait it at night, take it out and pick it out in the morning with some Afro Sheen assistance. Now I happened to live in “integration” 😉 so the only women I saw with ‘fros were rebellious teenagers. My mom and the other older women saved their ‘fros (or ‘fro wigs) for the weekends usually. I… Read more »

Carleee
Carleee
6 years ago
Reply to  LBell

Hey Lbell! I love the little walk through the times. Thanks for your perspective.

lauryn
lauryn
6 years ago

I think what is considered “attractive” is a reflection of how we personally feel wearing our natural hair in public. The more that we project CONFIDENCE and SELF-LOVE with our kinky or curly tresses, the more people of all colors will catch on.

lablooplah
lablooplah
6 years ago
Reply to  lauryn

fi true! it starts with us

trich315
trich315
6 years ago

I big chopped in Dec 2011 and have always worn my hair in stretched out styles. After watching a WNG Challenge on Facebook recently I started experimenting with different products to see if I could get my WNG to “work”. I’m still on the fence about how it looks, but I get more compliments sporting my natural curls than when I wear my twist out? It is very encouraging lol.

SantanaNyla
SantanaNyla
6 years ago

The health of the hair is foremost. if you have thick kinky hair of any length then you are truly blessed because many of us have length but not volume.

Poshnera
Poshnera
6 years ago
Reply to  SantanaNyla

I agree kinky hair folks are blessed with volume. I had to have a professional go in and cut my hair so it could stand. I had to sacrifice the length for the volume but it stands now so yayyyy!

Mells39
Mells39
6 years ago

I love how I look in my shrunken afro. I use the keracre hair spray on my ends and it gives me a nice sheen. But sometimes when I go out with my afro, none of the guys are checking for me lol! I am not saying I go out to get attention but they just ignore me or just stare. I feel like they are saying, “ugh” with their facial expression. It makes me sad but I love my nappy 4CD‑Z hair and this is me.

lablooplah
lablooplah
6 years ago
Reply to  Mells39

if they dont like it someone else will 😉 black women look authentically beautiful with their natural hair because that is how they are meant to be.

lv
lv
6 years ago

I wear my shrunken 4a hair most days. I cowash every 2–3‑4 days, so shrinkage on my hair type is unavoidable. When I first went natural 1 year 3 mos ago, i graved stretched big hair. that is too much work for me. now i grave healthy shiny moisturized hair. that kind of hair looks good shrunken or otherwise. folks stare too—everybody likes healthy hair!

NobleStrength
6 years ago

I think you should leave the house feeling confident. If u like it then that all that matters, whether it’s a fro, twist, twist out, flexy rod set…etc. so long u are happy! That my motto

Yvette M
6 years ago

When I was in primary school (ages 10 — 12), I wore my hair in its shrunken state. Mainly because I didn’t want to go for a haircut and tried to keep my hair looking as short as possible. But I wouldn’t do that now. Mainly because my hair is so hard to detangle when kept fully shrunk. So all I do now is stretch it a bit using African threading, pat it down into shape and go. Works better for me since I hate detanging

Carleee
Carleee
6 years ago

I hate to say, but I actually find that shrunken afros are mostly unacceptable to black people. Those black people have a ways to go on the self-acceptance journey, mind you. I think it’s all about rocking your natural kinks and coils with pride. You are an inspiration to the next woman (of all races but especially black) trying to embrace herself. Other races don’t know a damn thing about our hair and don’t care to know (recall “You Can Touch My Hair” 2013). Yet, they don’t attach the same stigmas to afros as black people unfortunately do. Remember, in… Read more »

NaturallyNeesh
NaturallyNeesh
6 years ago

I wear a shrunken look every so often on a literal wash and go. I wash my hair condition and then throw some oil and Shea butter on top. Boom!

I have 4c hair and I love it in all of it’s many different states. It the mindset the person has that makes it acceptable to them or not.

Poshnera
Poshnera
6 years ago

It frustrates me that so many women in the “4 category” have to experience such ignorance. Even though I might not have the same type of hair, I have friends and family who do and their hair is beautiful! Whether shrunken or stretched they have “good” (healthy) hair and I love playing in their fros. I think the people who hate it are most often the ones who have it and are self-haters or those who just don’t understand it. My thing is if you don’t understand ask and/or don’t judge. Our bodies are not public property for ppl to… Read more »

African Naturalistas Hair Products

To answer your question as directly as possible.

These days…
No! Shrunken 4C Fros are not Considered UNATTRACTIVE in the NATURAL COMMUNITY.

Things have definitely changed.

Iva
Iva
6 years ago

The only natural hair community I care about is the one that controls the hair on my head, i.e. ME. I love my shrunken fro.

It’s awesome.

lablooplah
lablooplah
6 years ago
Reply to  Iva

lol. i love the sass.

lablooplah
lablooplah
6 years ago

I’m currently in Kenya (Africa) and i’ve seen a few naturals (and here we dont have the same hair products mind you.) I’ve seen a few type fours with their hair out in mini fros ( or shrunken hair cant tell) and one in particular with really long type four hair in a pony tail. I myself have my type 4 hair out which is always puffy regardless the fact that my curls pop sometimes and sometimes they dont, and no one bats an eye. when i was here three years ago all i could hear was “so when are… Read more »

Fennella
Fennella
6 years ago

People have issues with 4c hair in general (it’s usually not just 4cs who have an issue with it either). It’s not coincidence that many non naturals, black men, black people and the new natural hair community all seem to hate shrunken afro hair and 4c is the hair with the most shrinkage. Society just generally balks at the kinkiest Afro hair but the natural community is more damaging in its opinion because these are meant to be the outlets and support systems and yet often the kinkiest hair types are downgraded because of the amount of shrinkage the texture… Read more »

chytastic
chytastic
5 years ago
Reply to  Fennella

I agree with you. I am someone with 4c hair and struggled to love my natural hair. I feel that it is harder when you don’t have a natural curl pattern that is viewed by most as attractive. I see a lot of very curly hair and people with my hair type making their hair resemble other curl patterns. Some of the terms are a bit negative too. Fine is attractive like fine china or fine boned but coarse is used to apply to large grit in sand paper rough around the edges it is never used to describe something… Read more »

Ashanti
Ashanti
6 years ago

I absolutely wear my shrunken (nappy,kinky, curly, coily, etc…) fro often… probably too often for the detangling nonsense I have to deal with later, but wasnt that the point of “going natural”??? Being happy/proud to wear my hair the way it grows iut if my scalp!!

Chris
Chris
6 years ago

The debate will never simmer until there is acceptance of African-American women who are comfortable breaking the Eurocentric mold of beauty. More comfort-based than political statement, women who go natural compel us to value brains over beauty’s hype and go beyond the superficial.

elastagrl
elastagrl
6 years ago

I hate the short fro look, I much more prefer big fros. FROS should be huge in my opinion. However, I’ve seen really pretty women wear little fros and it did look glamorous on them and made them look sexy. I don’t know, it depends, on some people yes, on others no.

Napturally Kia
Napturally Kia
6 years ago
Reply to  elastagrl

excuse me elastagirl.…out of curiosity: what rock have you been under lately?

NubianPrize
NubianPrize
6 years ago

I have 4ab hair which can look like 4c if it’s really dry. I’ve NEVER EVER worn my natural hair all shrunken up. Not even in the 60s & 70s when I first went natural. Why ? Because I have very fine delicate hair that breaks easily & would probably get too tangled if left shrunken up. I try to avoid excessive manipulation. Back in the day it was a bit thicker than it is now, but it’s always been soft enough to be easily detangled with a Magic Star rake & a condish with good slip. I would always… Read more »

Juju
Juju
6 years ago
Reply to  NubianPrize

I have 4ab hair which can look like 4c if it’s really dry. ”

Statements like the above are casually made re 4c hair all the time and the commenter just doesn’t think of how offensive, belittling and negative this is.

cinn says...
cinn says...
6 years ago

Great article. And I am so with you. Perhaps it is because I had long dreadlocks before I big chopped this past March, but I am now rocking the sh*t out of my TWA. My hair when stretched is 3 times as long and I don’t care. I am living for my curls, coils and kinks and just focusing on keeping then healthy. Maybe next year I will get all into twists and stretching etc. (I can struggle with it now but I am so not into it at all) but for now, I am just happy letting my hair… Read more »

Aisha M.
6 years ago

Great post Chinwe. I still notice the looks of confusion and lack of praise on the odd day I decide to not stretch my fro and rock it in its shrunken state. I’d get all sorts of questions too: “did you cut your hair? what happened to your hair?” or otherwise people would look and just not say anything. Yet the next day after I’ve twisted it out, the compliments would roll in. And I’ve received that feedback from people of all sorts — even others who I wouldn’t have expected it from (eg. fellow bloggers). It used to bother… Read more »

fjkel
fjkel
6 years ago

Looking at them stresses me out lol. My hair is capable of achieving that look,but I refuse,detangling is a NIGHTMARE!

Brittany. L
6 years ago

Attraction is yes about what you wear and how your hair is done. But most importantly the confidence you exude. So if you rock the shruken afro like it’s everything you will be attractive.

Check out http://www.curlskinksfashion.com for Natural Hair, Fashion today we discuss the 6‑month rule in Naturally Dating

lauren
lauren
6 years ago

It seems every time I visit this page now there is the same article reworded and now it seems every other day its about type 4 hair being discriminated against. Its almost like the natural hair community wants to bring in the drama and seperation by constantly bringing it up. Obviously there are gonna be ignorant people but we keep headlining the ignorance just to keep people aware. All types of natural hair textures are judged. If your black and your hair is loose curled people want to assume your mixed or chemically altered or if its very kinky people… Read more »

Tisha
Tisha
6 years ago

I would love to be positive here but I think YES they are STILL considered unattractive by the natural community. Verbally we are very good at giving are support. But numbers don’t lie. Look at the numbers of views of a shrunken 4c fro. Dismal. And don’t make the excuse well you have to factor in that people of other races will look at pictures of curly heads. I agree with that but the person say on you tube has 10,000 subscriber’s and averages 6,000 views per video. The shrunken Afro 1,000 views. Now are you going to tell me… Read more »

Pamela
Pamela
6 years ago

Thank you so much for this very timely and great article. I have been natural for 5 years and today because of your article is the first time that I wore my 4 type hair in a wash and go. I had listen to all the comments about how 4 type hair cannot wear wash and go. Sometimes you have to try things with your hair. The beauty of natural hair is if a style does not work you can wet it and do what does work. My hair is APL and it shrunk about 90% but is looks amazing.… Read more »

Elizabeth
Elizabeth
6 years ago

YES!!!!! Shrunken 4c hair is considered unattractive to a lot of people and sadly to myself as well. when my hair is acting right and the hair is curly i get complements and in my opinion it looks good. ( my hair is short but not a twa…its in the awkward length. On the days i use some silly leave in and my hair is a dry nappy shrunken mess!!! Yes i said it! I can feel ppl stare and i get odd looks at work then if someone has the courage they whisper to me to wear a wig the… Read more »

tasha
tasha
6 years ago

a black woman’s hair is always scrutinized, all i can do is be me, even when my hair was relaxed it didn’t behave the way people thought it should, or it wasn’t long enough. most of the women i know are either relaxed or they wear weaves 24/7, they don’t know much about natural hair so they don’t dare tell me what i need to do with mine.

Lola
Lola
6 years ago

I went natural about 12 years ago and I didn’t feel pressure to go back to relaxers. I disregarded the comments like you did then too. But overwhelmingly I got compliments on my hair, especially when it was short. I have since chopped it again and am in the middle awkward stage with some long hair. You made the key point that your mind has to be ready! I had made the decision in high school I wanted to stop relaxing my hair and about a year into college I did it. I stayed natural because my mind was right!

Maitriyi
Maitriyi
6 years ago

There is so much misinformation out here; it’s sad. I seriously don’t get the fear and loathing of shrunken ‘fros. I have tightly coiled 4a-4c hair and wear my hair in a shrunken ‘fro all the time. And it looks quite FLY, elegant, and professional. Contrary to a lot of misinformation out there, you do not have to experience tangles with a shrunken ‘fro. With a good cut that will give your hair shape, a shrunken ‘fro can actually look very edgy. In fact, I’m reached a point where I rarely twist my hair or wear it in twist outs because… Read more »

Napturally Kia
Napturally Kia
6 years ago

i’m thankful for all the naturals who were natural before it was widely accepted, as a newer natural, i haven’t received the brunt of anything. not saying it doesn’t exist for some today but the vet naturals really had it rough back in the day. thank you 🙂

Anfaani
Anfaani
6 years ago

I think we make too much of this. I don’t need anyone else to make me feel ok about what I do or don’t do with my hair. as long as it’s clean and does not smell (which would rightfully be an imposition on others) then it’s my hair and that’s the end of it. # donetalk

Adía
Adía
6 years ago

unfortunately i think that shrunken afros aren’t considered attractive to everyone. i prefer long hair on myself but i do like twa on others.

Fo
Fo
6 years ago

I don’t find them unattractive at all. It’s that some people with 4c hair have told me their hair shrinks onto itself and creates terrible, terrible tangles. Everyone’s hair is different so I’m sure it comes down to the individual and what their particular hair does, but some people consider it hair suicide.

Elaina
Elaina
5 years ago

Until recently, I wore a shrunken afro since going natural in 2012, for lack of not knowing what else to do with it (after starting out with a braid-out at the beginning of the week). I got several compliments from men and women too, although I didn’t particularly like how it looked. Now I twist it up at night and where a twist-out daily. I like the twist-out a lot better on me, because it looks more feminine and pretty in my opinion.

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