I am quite sure that between my social awkwardness and inability to hide a completely dumbfounded reaction, I have been perceived as rude in many cases. My daily interactions can be uncomfortable and strange from time to time, and it never ceases to amaze me what people will do or say to a complete passerby.
Honesty, I do know that it is my choice to walk around with an obnoxiously loud style and green dreadlocks… but I just wish I was given a better chance to engage with people. After all, I am a super social creature.
Here are some things you should never lead with if you want to have an actual conversation with me…
#1- “You can’t wash them, right?” (aka “Dreads are DIRTY.”)
UGHHHH could this be the worst stereotype of all time? MAYBE!!
Some people wash their hair, some people do not. Such is true for all heads of hair alike! As a hairstylist, and before ever seeing a dread head in real life, I met tons of women who’s only wash was the one I gave them at their bi-monthly haircut. Their ethnicity, gender, length of hair, style of hair, did not make a difference in their washing habits.
My vivid-color clients often only wash weekly or even bi-weekly in order to preserve their investment, and many woman in our extremely dry climate choose not to wash too often either.
Whether dreadlocks are dirty or clean, is 100% dependent on the person wearing them.
After starting a head of dreads, I send my client home with some work to do on their own in order for their dreadlocks to continue forming and maturing. Their ONLY assignment is to wash their hair with a residue-free shampoo every 4-7 days, and keep their dreadlocks separated. In other words, the only thing you have to do as a dread wearing client is wash your hair and keep your dreadlock partings neat…. does that sound dirty to you?
#2- “Can I touch them?”
Didn’t your momma ever tell you that it is rude to touch a stranger? Especially a stranger’s hair?!!
I mean, at least you asked… I do give credit to the people who ask rather than just grabbing at your head or boob when you’re not paying attention to them, mid conversation and waiting in line somewhere. And how about that drunk girl at a festival who stumbles out of a porta potty and reaches for each side of your face before even considering that she hasn’t washed her hands… maybe all weekend. Orrrr the guy lurking behind you, and the only indication he is there, is when your head yanks back because you begin walking away and he’s got a couple of dreadies in his hand.
Yes these are real scenarios I have personally experienced… and continue to experience often.
Let me just say this boldly, IT IS NEVER OKAY TO TOUCH SOMEONE’S DREADLOCKS.
Even if you ask, it is just NOT ok.
#3- “How do you get it like that?”
The most vague question of all time… and speaking of time, how much of it do you have? Let’s sit down around the campfire and have a conversation about the history, years of formation and manipulation it took, to get to what you’re seeing now. Do I sound cynical? I’m sorry, I may be just a tad…
Honestly, half of the reason the question bugs me, is because I love the opportunity to educate about them. I am passionate about the dreadwork I do and my own dread journey, and I really am happy to share, but I have no idea what you’re looking for in my answer. Due to the amount of blood, sweat and tears that are really put into dreadlocks, and the depth of misinformation that circulates about them, I want to be helpful. Specify what it is you really want to know, and if it is just genuine curiosity, consider the setting and whether it’s appropriate to consume 15 minutes of a stranger’s attention.
All in all, if you REALLY want to know, there are many resources available to you… GOOGLE IT 🙂
#4- “How do you wash them?”
I have heard the weirdest rumors about how dreads are washed (LOL)…
Let me unveil the great and mysterious, truth of how you wash dreadlocks…
Step 1- Wet entire head and hair with water, tap is fine.
Step 2- Pour shampoo into hands, lather and work into hair and scalp.
Step 3- Rinse well.
(repeat steps if necessary)
#5- “How do you get the color in them?”
I am not sure when my hair became something other than human hair… or when I became some kind of subhuman that is was okay to touch in passing… but… come on people…
If you want your dreads to be colored, you put hair color in them. Sure you will want to find a stylist who is experienced in coloring dreadlocks, as adding color to clumped sections of hair is going to be a tad different; just as coloring techniques vary from thick to thin hair, long to short, and curly to straight.
#6- “Are those real?”
Are you asking if what you’re seeing exists in actual reality? Or are you asking if my hair has extension work in it?
Either way, not cool. That is like asking a woman if her breasts are implants, or if her ring is genuine diamond. Going back to my previous statements, if you genuinely are curious about them or have interest in the potential of starting your own, find a more tactical approach to getting the answers you’re looking for, and be aware of the setting in which you’re asking.
In conclusion, I’ll just say this… these are my personal believes about dreadlocks and my experience with them. Like anything, dreadlocks are done many different ways and are worn by many different types of people. There are no hard rules about them and it is never polite to make assumptions.