The other day my husband and I were playing a video game. Actually it was more like he was playing and I was trying my hardest not to feel ill from the movement. We had picked up where we left off months ago in Enslaved. As he played along I made a comment about the female character’s hair, how I thought Trip’s dreaded locks and band wrapped red hair looked kinda awesome.
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In response, my husband agreed and said I’d look good with them, an unexpected turn in the conversation. I hadn’t expected him to like the look of dreads but somehow it made sense. I mean he was the one that encouraged me to follow my wish to have pink and blue hair so why not dreadlocks?
This revelation turned into a discussion between us about me turning my natural curls into locks and the choice to have a natural but alternative hairstyle. The convo didn’t last long but it was long enough to plant a seed.
From that moment on I started reading and searching for all the tidbits, guidelines, and suggestions around the web for creating natural dreadlocks. I can’t explained what compelled me to consider doing thing at this particular time but it isn’t the first time. Many years ago I had this same inclination to dread my hair and allow it naturally do its own thing. I asked around and brought it up with a trusted family friend and hairstylist. She gave me some pointers and supported me in my quest to find out more. But that was it. Instead of taking the leap, I ended up choosing to go natural and let my curls be free with no more combs or towel drying. I switched all my products to curl enhancing and natural. Lots of coconut and argan oil were harmed in the making of those natural curls. So much oil…
I wore my curls for a good four months without using a comb or any heating items. I just used my fingers and wrapped my hair into a lot of tee-shirts and other soft cottony things. But soon, like most hair styles, my interest faded and I went back to normal. I started brushing again and towel drying and straightening my hair for special occasions. A couple of months later I bleached the bottom third of my hair and dyed it red, then blue, then red again. That lasted a good 9 months and I even wore my hair bright pink to my wedding. Since last July my hair has officially been left plain and my bleached portions are slowly growing out.
Now I’m back to that same first square where I’ve got all this information and the inclination to make the change but not quite ready to make the leap. And I’m left with a burning question I must answer before I start: why? Why do I want to do this?
I can give a few reasons. First, like some people, I like to change up my look from time to time. Short hair, long hair, curly, straight, pink hair, blue hair. Style is something that is discovered and changed over time depending on where you are in your life. And right now I’m up for a change. Secondly, it feels like the a natural next step for my curly hair. First, I continue washing with my natural products that I use my hair already but I stop combing, something I’ve done in the past to keep up the curl. But instead I keep myself from separating my curls with my fingers, too, and allow the natural progression of the locks to form. Plus I wouldn’t mind seeing what I would look like with them. My curiosity is winning me over.
Aside from these shallow reasons to change up my do, I’ve been wrestling with some pretty big concepts about beauty and vanity and society all from considering this drastic change. As I watched and read people’s suggestions on how to start and the best method (I’ve decided to mostly do a neglect/natural process but to help it along a little twist & rip), I’ve also listened to their stories, their reasons and their personal agendas. For the most part, people mentioned they had deep personal reasons and spiritual connection with their dreads and their choice. I was completely enthralled by this. To me, hair is hair. It’s on my head, I can cut it or grow it but I’ve never thought about my relationship with. How it defines me. It’s such a back-burner thought, something that isn’t up front and constantly on my mind. But, after watching a few videos and sharing my concern with my husband about the big step this would be, he made a comment that stopped me for a second. He has done the same. Not with dreads, but in choosing to shave his head continuously.
About four years ago he realized his hair was thinning. Even in his still youthful days, he recognized that the end was near for his head of hair. So he decided to shave his hair completely off. At first with just a short buzz left behind. Soon it went from a short buzz with the electric razor to a full on straight edged razor shave. Smooth as a baby’s bottom. And it’s been that way for years. His lack of hair on his head was a source of discuss from family members that weren’t pleased with his choice but soon everyone adapted and accepted that it was his choice and his right. It was his release and his freedom but also his new burden and responsibility.
I know I have his love and support, completely and totally.
Hair, it’s something a lot of us are born with and we all have the power to control and do things with it but so many of us stick to what is known in our community as the norm and don’t venture beyond that for fear of being the black sheep. Every time I dyed my a wild color, I had the part of my circle of people that were jealous and wished they had the balls to do so, then there was the other group who all loved it and felt inspired, but then there was that last group who didn’t understand and felt it took away from me. They felt it didn’t add to my natural beauty but detracted from it.
And, in all honesty, every time I dyed or bleached my hair, there was a sense of apprehension about the enormity of what I was doing. How would people react? Would I be able to handle the looks and comments from the people I know and the strangers I’ll see everyday? As I ask myself these questions I almost have to laugh. I’m talking about HAIR! It’s just hair. But it’s also apart of your identity.
So I’m torn. I’m torn by my willingness to shuck the norms of society and allow myself to be free but I’m also struck down by the gravity of something so small that defines so much of me.
For now my choice is to slowly allow my hair to naturally dread and to take this journey step by step. I keep telling myself I can always brush it out if I don’t like it. It’s not permanent. I’m also telling myself to be honest with how I feel about it. About the shaking free of the shackle of normal vanity and beauty and instead embracing a more natural look and finding beauty in that. This is also an exercise in my need to control my hair and to allow it to do what it naturally is inclined to do. I’m that girl with the shiny curls that always wishes it was straight. This will be a test to allow things to go, to let go of my vanity and to believe that my hair doesn’t make me who I am or define my beauty.
So, after all that soul bearing and talk of hair (again it’s just HAIR!), let the journey begin!