Long Hair Psychology 101: The Reasoning Behind the Necessity of Long Hair Of Your Own

Woman with long natural hair 2Since citing reasons for the necessity of growing long hair of our own despite the availability of weaves and wigs in a previous article, we have thought about how you decide what is a necessity and what is not.

We probably had you thinking: “When did something as simple as long hair become a necessity? After all, its just hair.”

With all the resistance to natural afrocentric hair, society might be a bit impatient with our efforts to attain health in a bid to retain length, while manufacturers of relaxers are feeling the pinch since some relaxed women are choosing to stretch their relaxers for that very same reason. No doubt some of them are wondering what is with our obsession with growing it long.

Lucky for them, the weaves and wigs manufacturers do not have to pay behavioral psychologists to get to the root of the matter since their sales have not been shaken.

Yet, it begs the question: Is it necessary for us to grow long hair while ready-made alternatives are available? For this reason we decided to delve into long hair psychology: the reasoning behind the necessity of long hair of your own.

 “Necessary” Defined

Necessity implies an absolute essential for existence such as food, shelter and clothing; therefore, you may argue that when it comes to hair, it’s certainly not necessary for the preservation or sustenance of life or existence.

Okay then, I’ll let you hold on to that for a second and for a moment there, I thought of re-wording the topic with the word “preferable” being inserted as the operative term, but hold your horses because I’m not willing to concede just yet.

In Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs the definition of need that you would cite would correlate with basic needs, yet there are four other categories of needs cited in his model which would classify our psychological needs (bingo!).

Maslow’s model shows us that we have need of social, esteem and self-actualization fulfillment!

Social Need

The social need speaks to our need for participation and acceptance, esteem speaks to our need for attention, glory, fame, appreciation, dignity, status and confidence.

When this is not fulfilled we develop self-esteem issues and inferiority complex. Finally, there is the need for self actualization; the state of realizing personal growth and motivation.

Originally posted 2013-12-16 15:00:37.

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About Marsha Buchanan

As a Jamaican girl raised in a devout church family headed by my mother, I have always had my natural hair, no chemical processing. After years of mistreating it , often ignorant of that fact, I began my healthy hair journey in January 2013 in fact, I have seen to it that my entire household falls in line where this is concerned. When I am not poring over some hair blog or forum I spend my time teaching English to rowdy high school students (ok maybe I have some little sweethearts in the mix), mothering the most adorable two year old on this globe, or rushing to meet the deadline for a writing project on Elance. In my spare time I enjoy a stroll along the beach with my doting husband.

About Marsha Buchanan

As a Jamaican girl raised in a devout church family headed by my mother, I have always had my natural hair, no chemical processing. After years of mistreating it , often ignorant of that fact, I began my healthy hair journey in January 2013 in fact, I have seen to it that my entire household falls in line where this is concerned. When I am not poring over some hair blog or forum I spend my time teaching English to rowdy high school students (ok maybe I have some little sweethearts in the mix), mothering the most adorable two year old on this globe, or rushing to meet the deadline for a writing project on Elance. In my spare time I enjoy a stroll along the beach with my doting husband.


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  1. Alx Edg

    Decided 2 days ago that I’m through with this quest for long hair. If it grows, it grows.Now I’m seeking natural cropped styles, if my hair doesn’t want to be obedient,line up and jump on the bandwagon

    1. Alma Ruddock

      Ha! I got fed up with that too so I decided to revert to normal wordpress comments. Glad to see you here Kay!

  2. Shelley Dianne

    Proud to say I have naturally long hair. Been down to my waist a couple times..now that I’m in my mid 40s (and no gray), I keep it mid back length. I do get a relaxer every 4-5 months for manageability ..otherwise it tangles to easily.

  3. Cycy BrandNew

    I want to see how long my hair can get if I really take care of it. I’ll probably cut it after. Lol

  4. Erica Lonesome

    I am so incredibly disappointed in this article. Long hair is a necessity to feel accepted and desirable? Are you seriously suggesting that a woman with short hair can’t get a man? That she needs long hair to be socially accepted? I just read a piece on this website about how to deal with family members who wrinkle their noses up at our natural hair. How about how to deal with people who look down on women who have short hair? If someone wants long hair, natural or not, more power to them. If that makes them feel confident about their appearance then rock that long hair, sister. I fully support choosing to wear hairstyles that make us want to strut down the street. Wear what makes you feel sexy, wear what makes you feel strong, wear what what makes you feel happy. Whatever it is. But don’t you dare tell me that “If we are to be honest with ourselves, there are innate reasons why black women want longer hair.” The truth is, if we are to be honest with ourselves, it is sad as hell that we have to justify our own choices by negating the choices of others. We should be supporting each other. This essay is the exact opposite of that.

    1. Alma Ruddock

      Hi Erica. I can’t claim to speak for Marsha I’m pretty sure she wasn’t suggesting that you can’t get a man or anything like that.

      The point that she is trying to get across is what we live in a society where by and large long hair is seen as feminine. For that reason, many women tend to favor longer hair and when you look around you I’m sure that you will notice that this is the case.

      For us black women who have not always been able to get that length without the use of wigs/weaves, it is perhaps more important if only to prove to ourselves that it can be done.

      She just used Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs to try to explain why she THINKS that long hair is important to us. But like with everything else, things that the majority find important may not be that important to a minority but that doesn’t mean that either is wrong or right. It’s just a majority opinion that’s all.

      For instance, it’s also a majority opinion that women must eventually go on to have children of their own. Is this a biological necessity? Not at all but due to societal pressures or that ‘innate need’ many of us do go on to have children. But of course there is a minority of women who don’t want or feel the need to have children and that’s perfectly fine too.

      With this post I suppose that Marsha was just trying to reconcile and explain that NEED a lot of us have for longer hair but of course it’s not a need that’s shared by everyone.

    2. Marsha Buchanan Post author

      Hi Erica, I can understand where you are coming from, but as Alma has said, this is in no way a jab at ladies with short hair. I consider myself to have short hair at the moment. I simply wished to present a theory as to why we often go to such great lengths to have the appearance of long hair.

  5. Dabney

    I loved this article! For the longest time we women have been told that long hair is the acceptable standard of beauty. And yes, Most men, Especially black me have been raised with the same standard. A smart, enlightened man and woman will see beyond this standard and get to the inner pretty that we all have. But to deny that this is true or not recognize it is wrong. When we teach our black children to embrace all kinds of uniqueness, then we free ourselves to allow for our hair to do anything. after all it’s hair it grow back. That being said. I am challenging my self to grow my hair now that I KNOW, through great care and hair care practices, my hair has the capability to grow o great lengths!

    1. Marsha Buchanan Post author

      I’m with you on this Dabney, as much as we would like to pretend it has no power over us, what has been handed down, sometimes through negative reinforcement, influences our perceptions and the decisions we make. Thankfully some of us are challenging these misconceptions and freeing ourselves from them.

  6. Majorly_Mojo

    My hair is passed my collar bone and I like where it is, however my goal is BSL because I’ve never had it that length before. I want to reach my goal because it is something different yet also a challenge for me. I’ve had my fro much shorter (in my modeling days) and a lot of people loved it. It’s all in how you rock it and represent yourself. Now that I am on my HHJ I have been retaining length but I am not afraid to cut it, last year I cut 2-3 inches off and cut it again in the spring because of split ends and breakage. I am focused more on the health than the length but of course it is nice to retain length, especially if you haven’t had longer hair before. My bf likes my hair and hasn’t said anything negative about it, but to be honest I get more ?s from other black girls than anyone else and it’s mainly about how I manage my natural hair. Here in California I still see very few naturals and more of everything else and I’ve noticed the longer the better for them, even though it is not a huge concern for me I can see why long = acceptance.

    1. Marsha Buchanan Post author

      Yes Majorly_Mojo, for some of us it is the curiosity to test the theories and see if we can grow hair to lengths never before imagined, that sends us on the pursuit for long hair. We somehow need to prove it to ourselves and nothing is wrong with that.

  7. Lelah G

    Well, no man can run his fingers through my 4C hair . . . according to Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs that must mean I’m not as feminine as the rest.

  8. Marsha Buchanan Post author

    LOL! Well Lelah G us 4c types have to be content with allowing them to run the fingers through our two strand twists. Never mind girl, just as some of us have wised up and are rejecting the old euro-centric ideas of beauty, some of our men have been doing the same so I am sure there are quite a few who will not measure your femininity by the type of hair you grow.

  9. Lisey

    So ladies, long hair of our own is necessary.

    No it’s not. Why is self-worth tied to something as superficial as hair? Necessary for you if you’re into that kind of thing.

  10. amber

    another great article!I had no way ooffended by the conclusion you came to because its accurate socially and historically. And while long silky hair you can run your fingers through is not conducive to our kinky coily African based hair texture, does not mean that every other tpercent present and past is wrong. long hair is perceived as more feminine. And I think that it’s much easier for people with straight textured hair to grow their hair long and is in fact an ourward reflection of their health. is not only a euro-centric view but also an asiatic and indiginous indian view of hair that we cannot apply to ourselves and that there in lies the issue. so basically every other race and ethnic group of people buy into this but they’re all wrong?and as a black person to also buy into it you are a simple minded follower? I find that hard to accept. my theory is that as more and more black women have long healthy hair weather its relaxed or natural that same concept is going to be even more strongly applied to us, that long hair is “better”. I think that we have fought back so hard because many of us thought we could never have long natural hair. why would anyone in their right mind buy into something that they believe they can never attain?and to be completely honest, I I think that short hair can be sexy (think halle berry) in a rebellious sort of way or cute in a little girl kind of way but not nearly as feminine as long hair. What comes to my mind are the many verses throughout the Bible pertaining to a woman’s appearance and her hair and how a man supposed to look like a man and a woman is supposed to look like a woman. a woman hair is her crown and glory and a black woman who meticulously cares for her hair and achieve long hair represent a commitment to that original perception of femininity. I think is perfectly acceptable for black women to say we want long hair because we are able to grow our hair long.
    I take issue with women wanting straight hair because that is not the natural texture of our hair. most concerning, is that to attain straight here many women choose the relaxer. My thoughts on relaxed hair is this: once my husband told me that one time after I had just relaxed my hair my hair was off-gasing a noxious chemical smell- that’s really sexy huh? And another time he told me that once when we wer making out he when he put his face close to my hair and it burned his eyes lol. It could have been from residual chemicals from the relaxer or from all of the petroleum based hair products I use to my hair at that time. and of course I had a very harsh no touching rule to go along with that. I came to the conclusion that would be better for my husband to elected to learn to appreciate my natural hair texture and get really physical with it then too admire my appearance from a distance.

  11. Beebs

    I agree that long hair conforms with beauty standards and is considered more feminine by society. However, it would’ve been better if the point of this article was debunking the need to conform to beauty standards at all. You’re missing the point that the same beauty standard that makes you feel better when you fit into it, also tears you down when you don’t. That same beauty standard is responsible for women having low self-esteem, turning to eating disorders, permanent makeup and hair removal procedures, plastic surgery, skin lightening, etc. We’re spending a lot of money and energy keeping up with this rat race and there are not a lot of winners. In fact, I’m guessing all of us have lost this battle with beauty at some point. Staying in the game is not doing you any favors. Your natural hair is already pushing the limits of the need to fit into society’s beauty norm. And guess what? You’re fine. No one died. In fact, you might even feel a little freer. I’m sure a lot of us at one time thought we NEEDED a relaxer too. Why not think a little more about this long hair thing too? You may discover you don’t need it at all. If you think even further, you may discover a lot of things you don’t need. You can tie your self-worth to things that matter and have some pernanency instead of a fleeting, intangible beauty standard.


    I’m 2 years natural. And having so much fun with my hair. I’m constantly amazed at how easy it is to wear it just the way it grows out of my head. I’ve long held to the thought black women couldn’t grow long hair. i did the big chop,and my hair is now almost collarbone length. I’m, really curious about how long it’ll grow. So it’s not so much a necessity, but a curiosity and a means of dispelling the myth. We have the most beautiful hair and I feel like a queen when I wear mine full out.

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