Stirring the Mind into Thought

Vee and CheI love locs in general, I love my locs, and my cousin, who is the picture, loves her locs, yet some people just have a problem when it comes to seeing people with dreadlocks. It is one of the most controversial and misunderstood of natural hair styles (probably as bad as the afro) and it seems that no matter how many times one tries to dispel the myths and rumors about dreadlocks, some people refuse to listen. People tend to group all dreadlocks as the same — dirty, nasty, gross, smelly, matted, worn by weed smokers, Rastafarian hair, low maintenance, non-washable, faddish, extreme, militant, distracting, has bugs, lice and dirt in them, hippyish, punkish, only for people of African descent, homeless or low-class people wear them, musicians wear them, unprofessional, and the list goes on. When I read or hear those words, I think there are some really ignorant, prejudiced people who just hears things and repeats or generalize based on seeing only a few people with them (people who obviously do not know how to take care of locs) without getting the facts straight.

Dreadlocks are like any other hairstyle with different sub-styles of various lengths and widths. Some people wear it well and some people do not, some people maintain them well and some people do not. DUH! Whether someone’s hair is straight, wavy, curly or kinky, there is a difference between a hairstyle and just simply having no hygiene. A person’s hair can be just as dirty and nasty with straight hair. I wash my hair every week and if I had an active week, I wash it more often. Moreover, my hair does not stink because I wash it so often (don’t believe me, come and smell it!). Thus, I do not have dirt, lice, dust, bugs or any other disgusting objects in my hair. It is possible to keep dreadlocks neat, which requires more maintenance than people think. If they are not as neat, usually it is because some are growing them in freeform, and some organically (letting them lock by itself). If it is gross looking and feels gross, it is due to some who think that their hair will not lock as well (those with straight, wavy or looser curls) and so use sticky, messy products (like honey, toothpaste, wax) to lock it, do not wash it and do all of this without consulting a professional. Those people make it worse for people like me! One’s hair will lock no matter what as long as it is not combed! Why do you think your hair has knots in it when it is not combed?

Now to address personality stereotypes of people who wear dreadlocks. Having dreadlocks is not the same as being a Rastafarian. Yes, the belief/movement made the hairstyle popular, but Rastafarians are not the only ones who wore locks. Jews, Indians, Hindus, Celts, Vikings, Africans, Dominicans (called Dreads in Dominica) and others in the past wore locs. Even today, people of all races wear locs, from White to Japanese. Also, I am a Christian and there are many Christians who wear this hairstyle. So, stop calling it (as my mother sometimes absentmindedly says) Rasta hair. Second, just because I have locs does not mean I smoke weed. Yes, some dreadlocked folks smoke weed, especially Rastafarians, but not all people with dreadlocks smoke weed! If a person is homeless and has dreadlocks that are messy, obviously he or she does not have the means to keep their locs neat, they are homeless! In addition to that, I am ruling out that one has to be a hippy (although I do sometimes act hippyish), a punk, a musician, or any other category that one likes to put people with my hairstyle in.

That leads me into the professional world. How can dreadlocks in themselves be distracting, faddish, extreme or militant? As long as they are neat, maintained well and in a suitable style (hello, medium size locks and microlocks), it should not be a problem. Yes, some variety of locs are extreme or distracting, but that does not mean locs in general are. I feel that is another way to discriminate someone based on their natural hair. I am tired of hearing cases in which people are fired, not promoted or forced to cut their locs because people found them intimidating, threatening or distracting. Why? Lawyers, doctors, CEOs and other people in high class position have had locs and so having this hairstyle does not make one low-class, a bad person or any less capable of doing high level work.

Finally, if you do not think locs are beautiful and sexy and instead you think they are ugly and gross, here are some examples to prove you wrong:

July 16th, 2009 at 6:18 PM and tagged , , , , ,
3 Responses to “Why Dread the Locks?”
  1. 1
    Lisa Says:

    Hi Reese,
    I’m really enjoying reading your eportfolio. I’d like to feature it in the new eportfolio showcase. Would you be interested in discussing your eportfolio there?

  2. 2

    sure, that would be great!

  3. 3
    Kristina Says:

    Hi Sherese!

    Thank you so very much for your posting and its work towards dispelling the myths surrounding ‘dirty’ dreadlocks 😉 Contrary to popular beliefs surrounding dreadlocks, they lock up faster when you keep them clean and fuss with them (twisting, hooking, etc.). Even though I am caucasian, I did not find that it took long for my hair to lock up (2 weeks) if I kept it grease free by washing as often as possible.

    In fact, I’m kicking myself for the money that I spent going to a salon every month to have the bottom part of my hair de-dreaded/de-matted because I was afraid of being perceived as a ‘dirty hippy’ – or worse a ‘white girl appropriating black culture’ – for something that my hair tends toward on its own. Again, my sincerest thanks. Great article!