All Articles Tagged "dreadlocks"
The day in the life of a “dread” can be interesting to say the least. I should know.
People Are Going to Touch Your Hair
For some reason when you grow dreads, people think you no longer need your personal space. Be prepared to feel a tug or two when you’re in line at the grocery store or sitting on the bus. Yes, I can feel that. My hair is attached to my head.
It took me a long time to feel pretty again with my natural hair.
It wasn’t that I felt my natural hair was ugly – to the contrary, I loved my hair texture and I loved my newly acquired dreadlocks. However, others weren’t as certain about my new look, and that kind of bothered me.
Being perceived as attractive is that one area of going natural that most folks don’t want to talk about.
And when those discussions do arise, they are usually beat down in the “love yourself” sermons and other patronization, which some folks engage in when they want to make haste of what can be an uncomfortable topic; but this concept of self-love within natural hair deserves explanation. And while it is true, the primary motivation of any of our choices, including aesthetics, should come from a place of love of one’s self, it is also true that from very early on (some say as young as two, when children manifest self-consciousness, pride and embarrassment), we learn to see ourselves through the eyes of others. So, short of being some total self-aware zen master, it takes most of us some time to reach self-acceptance.
Like the time an associate told me that a crush thought I was cute but was hesitant because my “dreads and stuff look like I was going to have to talk about books all the time.” Or the strange guy who happened to cross paths with me on the sidewalk that decided to comment – loud enough so that I could hear – about how much he hates that “nappy hair s**t.” Or just being at the bar or lounge and noticing that the brothers were not checking for me like when I was rocking the long and silky press-n-curl. When I transitioned from getting bi-weekly press-n-curls into bi-monthly (if even that) appointments for lock retwisting, I expected to maintain my same level of familiarity with the opposite sex I had always known. But when I stopped adhering to one small aspect of the standard of beauty, suddenly, it seemed that I had become undateable – or at least invisible.
Weirder than the lack of physical attention was this newly attributed level of respect that was bestowed upon me. In one aspect, it was the celebration of the end of the endless cat-hissing, booty smacking “hey shawty, come here and let me get your number” mating dance, which was sort of the norm during the press-n-curl era. Nowadays, I am considered “sis” and “queen.” By the switch of a hairstyle, I was all of a sudden anew and virtuous. If I had to equate it to something, it would be like having a second virginity. But fun as it felt to walk around feeling righteous and superior, I didn’t want to be nobody’s “sis” (or as I always felt by extension, their mammies) no more than I wanted to be somebody’s “shawty.” In truth, I’m probably a little bit of both – and so much more other stuff. As a young woman, I wasn’t quite sure if I could handle that.
As more and more women transition, I am seeing similar stories of uncertainty over the natural head around the Internet. Sometimes the doubt is implanted by the words of boyfriends, but more disheartening is when the rejection comes by way of the husbands of these newly transitioned ladies. In fact, despite the rhetoric we see of those dudes who can recite line and verse the points to Chris Rock’s Good Hair, there are a large consortium of men, who are threatening to leave or cheat if their partner doesn’t either put a perm, or a weave, back in that nappy hair. Think I’m exaggerating? Just visit your nearest hair care forum and/or Google to read the various desperate pleas from women who need help dealing with their husbands, who just hate their natural hair.
In an essay entitled, The Reasons I Did Not Want My Wife to Be Natural, Dr. Corey Guyton bravely owns up to his fears of his wife’s transition. He cited his rejection of her TWA (teeny weenie Afro) as a matter of his own insecurity and being blinded by Eurocentric standards of beauty, including feeling like less of a man when his wife no longer had long flowing hair. Dr. Guyton writes:
“I was also blinded by the numerous images of “beauty” that were portrayed in the media. Anytime I would see a Black woman who was in movies, music videos, pageants, or on any day time television, she had long flowy hair. This played into my psyche and caused me to think that these women were the definition of beauty. Finally, I was blinded by my own people (including myself) who constantly displayed self-hate. The men constantly spoke about how women with short hair or non-straight hair were nappy headed and sistas put tons of weave in their head for the purposes of “increasing their beauty”. We created the thought that we were not beautiful the way God created us.”
It just goes to show you the ways in which the brothers internalize these narrow definitions of beauty as well. It is also a reminder of why the embracing of natural hair should not be considered gender specific. I try to keep this in mind whenever I’m passed over once again at a bar for my equally built brown skinned homegirl with the long weave. I want to tell the women it gets better. But only after my locks grew in length did the compliments also increase. And for the most part, my dreadlocks still act as a major repellent in most dating circles, particularly involving some black men.
Also, out of all the preferences to have, loving black men, or another black person for that matter, is not the easiest (intra-racial dating is still considered a preference, right?). There is lots of unchecked baggage, which many of us have yet to overcome. Thankfully, our brothers from the Island, South America and more have been filling in the gaps where some of our brothers stateside have fallen short. And don’t forget the white guys. I see them checking a “sis” out too. If not for the fact that I really (and I mean really) love my locks, I might have shorn them off already and pressed-n-curled what was left. I think that’s where self-love is born: In spite of what some others may think (even the ones who think my hair is cute), I’m going to stand strong in my own personal definition of what makes me feel s*xy, sisterly, and however else I choose to see myself.
Natural hair vlogger Franchesca posted a picture today of herself with 7 year old Tiana Parker on Instagram. In case you don’t remember, Tiana Parker was the little girl who was dismissed from school when administers said her hair, which she wears in dreadlocks, was unacceptable for school. After the incident received national attention and Tiana received an outpouring of support from women, particularly black women around the country, the school lifted the ban. Recently, Tiana’s mother sent Franchesca an e-mail saying she wanted to meet Franchesca and that’s just what they did. This is caption Franchesca posted with the image.
Imagine my surprise this morning when I woke up to an email from Tiana Parker’s mom, letting me know they were in NY today! (If you remember, Tiana was sent home from her school a few weeks ago because of her #locs) We went out to lunch and had a really wonderful time chatting about school, NY and of course #naturalhair! Tiana is so funny, smart, confident and incredibly sweet. I’m so honored to be considered one of her hair inspirations. THIS is why I make videos! Meeting her has definitely been a career highlight #locs #naturalhair
We love it! With all the mess her school put her through, it’s absolutely beautiful that she has such an accomplished and beautiful role model.
This is too precious!
Our hearts collectively broke last week when we watched 7 year old Tiana Parker cry after being sent home because her school deemed her locs “unpresentable.”
Before little Tiana was sent home, Deborah Brown Community, a charter school in Tulsa, Oklahoma, had already enacted a policy describing afros, mohawks and dreadlocks as “faddish” styles. Naturally, when the news of Tiana’s mistreatment spread, many stated that there was nothing faddish about styles like the afro or wearing one’s hair in dreadlocks. Clearly, the school was either out of touch, completely culturally ignorant, discriminatory or a mixture of all three.
After Tiana’s story received national attention, from the likes of the American Civil Liberties Union and professor/news correspondent, Melissa Harris Perry, who wrote Tiana a beautiful and encouraging letter, the school decided to review the policy once again.
Yesterday, after a two-hour board meeting, the Deborah Brown Community, a school comprised of 98 percent African American student enrollment, decided to officially change their policy. References to personal hair styles have been removed and according to the Tulsa Fox affiliate, has been replaced with this:
“Each student and the parents/guardians of the student are responsible for the personal hygiene of the student. The administration reserves the right to contact the parents/guardians regarding any personal hygiene issues that it believes causes a risk to the health, safety, and welfare of the student, his or her classmates and faculty or staff or detracts from the educational environment.”
Board Chairman, Kenneth James told Fox 23: “It was never our intent to cause any harm to Tiana or her family by our actions. If harm did occur, we apologize.”
Tiana’s parents, who have already removed her from Deborah Brown Community, said they would still like for Tiana’s former educators to issue her an official apology.
Sounds fair, if you ask me.
While it’s great that the school amended this policy, it’s alarming that a school with 98% African American student enrollment could be so unaware of the discriminatory nature of their policy. It makes me wonder if the administration reflects the student and parent population they serve. So, with that in mind, if the school officially apologizes to Tiana, do you think her parents should send her back t
It was just a few months ago that a charter school in Ohio tried to ban “afro-puffs and small twisted braids.” After a major outcry from not only parents of students from that school, but from folks across the country, the school’s administration sent out a letter of apology to parents and said that the ban wouldn’t be included in the final rule book.
But as the new school year starts, another school, this time in Tulsa, Oklahoma, is trying to enforce a similar ban. In Deborah Brown Community School’s dress code, it says that “hairstyles such as dreadlocks, afros, mohawks, and other faddish styles are unacceptable.”
That’s right. They called locs and afros faddish, ya’ll. And a 7-year-old student at the school named Tiana found out firsthand that they were not playing with the dress code this new school year when school officials told her father that her hair didn’t look “presentable” and tried to send her home.
Terrance Parker, her father and a barber in Tulsa, says in an interview with a Fox affiliate there that she went to the school last year and they had no problems with her hair then. He also wanted to make it clear that from head to toe, he never lets his daughter look anything but presentable. “She’s always presentable. I take pride in my kids looking nice.”
According to the Fox affiliate, an administrator at the school told them off-camera that Parker knew what to expect and that her hair wasn’t acceptable. They feel that such “faddish” hairstyles would distract from the “respectful and serious” atmosphere the school is trying to have. Parker says the school hassled him so much about Tiana’s hair that he decided to pull the straight-A student out of Deborah Brown. She has already started going to a new school where no one has a problem with her hair, but when it comes to how she feels about her old school’s choice to ban her hairstyle, a tearful Tiana told the Fox affiliate, “I think that they should let me have my dreads.”
Of course, charter schools go by a whole different set of rules and ways of doing things, but unfortunately, they left Tiana’s family with no choice but to take her, and her locs, elsewhere. Check out the family’s interview with Fox 23 below.
Earlier this week this woman at Noodles and Company, (if you’ve never tried it, you better ask somebody!) complimented my locs. Before I could even say thank you she went into her story, telling me how she too had tried the lock thing but couldn’t make it past the rough patch. I nodded my head in solemnity and agreement. *Moment of silence for the rough period* It was a lot. And I can’t say I was exactly prepared for it. With that in mind, I thought about all of the things I wish (Cedric the Entertainer voice) somebody would have told me about the lock journey. So in an attempt to help another sistah, who’s considering taking this step, here the things you need to know before you lock it down.
Just a week ago, folks were talking about the locs Rihanna wore for her performance on “American Idol.” Always one to change up her style, no one was shocked by the transformation, but it was definitely an interesting look, even for her. But Rihanna made it known that she’s not jumping on a bandwagon. In fact, she said that she’s wanted locs since she was a wee gyal:
“Their HOT! [I wanted them] since I was 14, but mama Fent’z wasn’t havin it!”
And while most people thought she looked great with them (aside from the awkward straight bang), I couldn’t help but notice that a few people weren’t feeling the look. Not because she looked a mess of some sorts in their opinion, but because they felt that rocking fake locs was an attempt to make a fad out of dreadlocks. And they weren’t having that.
“Not to[sic] fond of it. As a person who wears locs, I don’t consider it a style but a natural way to treat hair. When we wear it for “show” it makes it a fad. My locs are not a fad.”
I knew at least one person was going to have something to say against the look on her, but this individual’s comment struck me because I could see where she was coming from, but also could see how harmless wearing fake locs could be as well. You could say that I’ve been on both sides of the fence.
I remember when I posted a picture of myself with locs last summer on Facebook. People loved them! People were giving them all kinds of nice compliments, but boy oh boy were they shocked when I revealed that they were fake. Folks who had rocked dreadlocks for years thought they were real until I told them to touch ‘em (most were men with short attention spans of course). People would tell me they loved my hair until I quickly let them know that they weren’t real. Even though I wasn’t REALLY trying to fool anybody since that wasn’t my reason for getting them, I was fooling a few folks indeed.
The deal was, I had just recently gone natural a few months before, and as part of an old summer ritual, I was looking to protect my hair, and of course, looking for a break from doing it. After doing some research into different options, I ran across silky dreads and thought they looked amazing. I had always wondered what I would look like if and when I decided to lock my real hair, so spending $300+ on this temporary option sounded like an expensive option, but one I definitely wanted to try. When I did, though I got off to a rough start, I was able to style them in funky ways, able to guard and protect my hair, and when I took them out three months later to prepare for a wedding (though they could have stayed for 6 months or been worn until I grew my own locs to a good length), my hair had grown immensely. The greatest thing about them was that they pushed me to quit faking it and start making it by transitioning to real locs.
Oh locs, how I love thee. And while we spend a lot of time checking out slideshows of women with long ombre hair, half-shaven hair and bobs, why not check out the many women in Hollywood who’ve been bold enough to rock locs in an industry that is more of a fan of long, straight hair? Check out this gallery of some of our favorites and you can tell us who you felt rocked them best! And feel free to include people who were not included in your comments (but be nice of course).
Around the time Erykah Badu came out, I was pretty young, so for a long while I had no idea what was holding that tall head wrap up everywhere she went. But after the “Otherside of the Game” video came out and she pulled her wrap off to show a head full of dreads, I clearly figured it out. Over the years, Badu has worn a wealth of different hairstyles, fake and real, and in later years, she’s even rocked loc extensions. Either way though, the look has been a gorgeous one on her. Don’t you agree?
So I caught the latest addition to the Isht that So & So Says meme called Isht that Natural Hair Girls Says and I got a good chuckle out of it because it just reminded me of how sometimes the whole fascination over natural hair gets to be ridiculous.
It reminded me of the time a couple of years back when I was at this conference, waiting for elevator with a bunch of other Black women. Anyway, as I was standing there, leaning against the wall wishing for this slow-behind elevator to hurry up, one of the women, a lady with a TWA (Teeny Weenie Afro for those not familiar with the hair lingo) decided to strike up this conversation about my hair. She asked the customary questions that I usually get from curious gawkers: how long had I’d been growing my dreadlocks, do I do them myself, what kind of products do I use, you know the normal stuff. I don’t have a problem with folks asking me questions; in fact I am flattered by the attention.
However the conversation took a drastic change from pleasantries to outright offensiveness when she started talking about her own recent “big chop.” In between gushing over how wonderful she feels to be free of chemicals and how long she agonized over the decisions, she started doing what a lot of newly converted natural divas do: defame and attack women, who choose not to wear their own hair. She actually felt like she was sharing some sort of camaraderie with a fellow natural sister-in-arms; however, what she was actually doing was drawing the unnecessary scrutiny and alienation from the other Black women, who stood around us in annoyance at her hair prophesying. And you know what? I was annoyed too.
Like most ladies, I love my hair. However unlike most natural converts, I am not, nor have I ever been, sentimental with my hairstyle choice. I don’t know its birth date, I didn’t document the stages of hair “growth” and I never thought my transition was a “journey.” In fact, the only thing I remember about my hair “journey” was getting on the subway’s Broad Street line and making my way down to South Street to get my hair done. Hell, if I am really going to be honest, I don’t even twist my own hair. I pay someone else to do it because I do not have the time or the patience (also known as lazy) to diddle around with my hair.
And yes, I love my dreadlocks. But mainly because it’s versatile enough that I can dress it up, dress it down and never had to worry about rain or humidity. However natural hair isn’t more or less maintenance than any other hairstyle I had. I still have to get it done, when I wash my hair at home, it takes forever to dry and I still have to find ways to style it, just like I would with any other hairstyle. And while I have grown to appreciate my hair in its natural state, I can’t quite say that I have reached some heighten sense of hair consciousness to feel that I am somehow superior to all of those “other girls” who still relaxed their hair.
There is nothing wrong with celebrating or basking in your newly defined and accepted natural beauty. However, some women, not all but some, treat natural hair like it’s some sort of secret society sorority club where membership is exclusive and password protected. In fact, they are on the same scale as the Born-again Christians, who post uninvited Bible scriptures on your Facebook wall and recently converted Vegetarians/Vegans, who go on and on during your lunch break about how much energy they have and healthier they feel now that they stopped eating hamburgers and pork chops two days ago.
In some of these natural hair circles, some women do more than just trade hair care tips. They actually use these grounds as some sort of nappy-jihadist recruitment/training camp, where they attempt to enlist a legion of hair cops to hand out tickets to those women, who defy the virtues of the Afro-Gospel. I see these women on various blogs, Twitter accounts, among friends, family and as strangers in supermarkets, lay down their vicious authority on women, who do straighten or weave their hair. Oh and don’t think that just because you are natural you are excluded from the inquisition. Just ask any woman, who was “caught” using the wrong product, wearing a wig while in “transition” or not having the right grade of naps to be considered a true natural.
We can thank Nobanda Nolubabalo for officially giving the TSA a legitimate reason to search natural hair from here on out.
The 23-year-old South African woman was caught attempting to smuggle 1.5 kilograms of cocaine in her dreadlocks on a flight to Bangkok. Authorities arrested her and held her in the capital yesterday after customs officers noticed a suspicious white substance in her hair, according to the Daily Mail. After a search, it was discovered that she matted the drug into her dreads before boarding a flight from Brazil.
The amount of cocaine was worth roughly $144,000. Nolubabalo claimed she was hired by a Thailand-based businessman to smuggle the drugs for about $1,800. The amount is far less than the price the woman may have to pay for the failed smuggling attempt, including the possibility of the death penalty. Thailand has some of the toughest anti-drugs laws in the world, and just this week another South African was executed for drug smuggling in China after an unsuccessful attempt by South Africa’s president to convert the sentence.
You can view a video of the search here. How do you think this woman’s actions will affect hair searches in the U.S. going forward?
Brande Victorian is a blogger and culture writer in New York City. Follower her on Twitter at @be_vic.
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