Can You Be #TeamFakeNatural? What’s The Deal With Fake Dreadlocks?

February 14, 2013  |  

Source: Shutterstock.com

According to the website This is Africa, South Africans rocking dreadlocks might want to lay low for a bit as it appears that they are the new targets of a underground human hair theft ring.

Police say not many cases have been officially reported – there was one case in Durban last year, and another in Johannesburg last month (in which a Zimbabwean partying with a friend in a club went missing and was later found passed out and shorn of 10 years’s worth of locks. The thief/thieves didn’t touch his mobile phone, wallet and money; listen to The Times‘ reporter Poppy Louw‘s interview with The World, below), but one stylist told a reporter that he gets up to 10 customers a day asking for such extensions, and a police spokesperson said the crime goes underreported because many victims are too embarrassed to report the theft of their hair. Sounds plausible; after all, how on earth do you explain having your hair stolen? And poor cops, how do they manage to keep a straight face while taking victims’ statements?”

I know I couldn’t keep a straight face reading the article. But as noted in the article there have only been a couple of reported cases so the literal wig-snatching has not yet reached epidemic portions. Also, before anyone thinks of going on about those “crazy Africans,” the article also notes that the dreadlocks theft is part of a international trend, with reports of high-stakes human hair extension thefts occurring in cities across America.

What’s most compelling about this story for me is the idea that there is actually a market for human hair. Especially dreadlocks. Like what happened to just growing your own?

And this is not the first time I heard about this fake dreadlocks trend. Erykah Badu shocked the world (or maybe just me) when we realized that the signature dreads she used to rocked upon her arrival on the scene, were actually fake.  And not too long ago, I witnessed with my own eyes a guy in the next salon chair over from me, getting blonde dreadlocks extensions weaved into his hair. I tried not to stare and gawk but I couldn’t help it. First, I couldn’t get over how realistic they looked. And secondly, I wondered if the ghost of Marcus Garvey past would be visiting this dude in his sleep…

I mean nothing wrong with that…you know, screw it. Yes, dammit! There is something wrong with fake dreadlocks. I’m sorry I don’t take hard stances when it comes to hair politics. I tried to stay #TeamSwitzerland in the whole #TeamNatural versus #TeamPressNCurl fight. So I think I am entitled to one hair prejudice. And this whole fake dreadlocks trend is where I have to draw a line down the glue track. Fake dreadlocks just seem flat out self-defeatist. Unlike some of the weave styles, which require certain textures of hair to achieve, your own hair is the required texture for dreadlocks. Sure the argument could be made that dreadlocks are just a hairstyle and like any other hairstyle, is not a definition of a person. However I feel this particular hairstyle does has more of political and spiritual significance than the average hairstyle. And even as they have grown more fashionable, dreadlocks are still generally regarded in that same historical connotation. So those, who choose the hairstyle usually embody this historical significance and in some cases philosophies in one way or the other. I mean, why else would you risk being socially and economically ostracized for a hairstyle?

Maybe I’m just being a hair snob on this issue. If so, I can live with that. But the idea of a person rocking a press and curl on Monday and by Friday, they look like Damian Marley, just sounds like something a hipster poser would do. Anyway what are your thoughts on the fake natural trend?

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