All Articles Tagged "dreadlocks"
Did You Braid Your Hair Over The Weekend? How My Coworkers Reacted When They Saw My Locs For The First Time
In my last article, I left off at the point where I had decided to no longer cover-up my locs with a wig at work. What I didn’t tell you about were the comments that I received from my coworkers (all of whom are not Black) when they saw my dreadlocks for the very first time. Here’s how it went down.
I felt confident in my decision to forgo wearing a wig to work. I walked to the office with a renewed pep in my step, feeling the glow of the sun on my skin and the breeze in my hair. As the building elevator ascended to my department’s floor, I wondered what my coworkers would think of my hair. I was quickly about to find out. “Good morning,” I greeted my coworker.
Coworker 1: Ah! Oh my god!
Me: What? What happened?
Coworker 1: Your hair! It’s different!
Me: Oh… yeah, I changed it.
Coworker 1: Um… it’s cute. It’s cute.
Me: OK… thanks?
A few minutes later…
Coworker 2: Christine! You changed your hair?
Coworker 2: Did you braid your hair over the weekend to make it look like that?
Me: Mm… something like that.
A few hours later…
Coworker 3: Hey… (puzzled expression)
Coworker 3: What’s that?
Coworker 3: That thing in your hair.
Me: Oh that. Yeah, it’s called a hair-cuff.
Coworker 3: Hmm… I like it.
A few minutes later…
Coworker 4: So how do you do it?
Me: Do what?
Coworker 4: Change your hair.
Me: Well, there are many ways to do it. Some people chemically straighten their hair, some clip in extensions…
Coworker 4: So was what you had last time sewn on?
Me (in my head): OMG, how does she remember all the stuff I told her last month about lace-front wigs and weaves. OMG, she’s about to expose me! Deflect – say anything!
Me: No… no.
Coworker 4: That’s really interesting. So how often do you change your hair?
Me: Whenever I get bored. You know, it’s nice to have options.
A few days later…
Coworker 5: Hey Christine, so about the… Wow! Your hair!
Me: Dude, my hair has been like this the whole week.
Coworker 5: No it hasn’t.
Me: Um, yes it has… I talked to you yesterday. Are you only noticing now that my hair is different?
Coworker 5: Really? I guess I didn’t notice. So, I see you changed it up to be more like your “homies”?
Me: Haha, what “homies” are you talking about? You’re silly.
The rest of my coworkers generally seemed to ignore the change even though I could plainly see the confusion on their faces. Thankfully, my worst fear wasn’t realized – no one tried to touch my hair.
One thing from this experience that caught me by surprise was my own reluctance to meaningfully answer my coworkers’ questions about my hair. I displayed cowardice by deflecting instead of taking the opportunity to educate my coworkers on Black hair. Although, on the other hand, I also feel that it’s unfair that the burden of educating should rest on my shoulders. Sometimes I wish that I could just pass out a copy of Chris Rock’s Good Hair documentary film whenever a non-Black person asks me about my hair.
In any case, the discomfort that I felt about not handling the questions better was soon outweighed by the comfort I gained by wearing my hair out. I’m no longer distracted by annoying wig combs and can focus better on doing my job. I feel like myself again. So overall, my big reveal went OK, although I still don’t know what to make of Coworker 1’s shriek of surprise – shade or no shade?
Beauty is, quite literally, pain as I discovered growing up as a Black female with natural 4B/4C hair. I’ve suffered the pain of sitting in salon chairs for countless hours getting my hair braided. I’ve gritted my teeth as I’ve gingerly laid my head of fresh micros onto my pillow, and anxiously awaited the painkillers to kick in. I’ve had super tight cornrows that pulled my face up so much that the mere act of blinking would shoot pain up my temples. I even once had an allergic reaction to the hair dye in my weave which incited an angry red rash and unrelenting itch all over my scalp.
Enough was enough! I finally took mercy on myself and shaved off my hair – all of it. But apparently, even a shaved head was too high maintenance for me. You see, I’m so lazy that a trip to the beauty shop every two weeks to get a trim was a far too burdensome task. So, in search of a long-term solution for low cost and low maintenance hair, I decided to lock my hair in August 2012. What I thought then was just another hairstyle I was trying out, turned out to be an amazing (and sometimes trying) journey full of unexpected life lessons. It’s only fair that I share some of these lessons with you.
Lesson #1: Patience is a Practice
Admittedly, I jumped into locking my hair without doing much research beforehand. I naively thought that I’d have mature locks after four months and that my hair would grow at an exponential rate. I hadn’t even heard about the budding stage which is arguably the worst stage of the journey because the buds are not particularly visually appealing. During this stage it wasn’t uncommon for non-dread-heads, especially, to give me unsolicited advice on how often I should re-twist my hair to “get rid of the bumps.” “No, the bumps are good!” I’d try to explain with no success. Those months were rough. Fortunately, my ignorance kept me on course because I was convinced that I was just a month or two away from mature locs.
By month six, my locs at the front still hadn’t completely locked and it was around that time that I resigned to the fact that there was no amount of salt water spray that was going to give me the quick result I’d been hoping for. I just had to wait. The act of surrendering myself to the process and patiently observing my hair transform over the subsequent months brought me to a new level of awareness in my everyday life. I became progressively in tune with my internal patience levels and how to check them.
I used to think that people were either innately patient or impatient, but I’ve since come to realize that patience is a skill that we practice over time. The front of my hair finally locked after a year and today I continue to practice patience as I wait for my hair to pass shoulder length.
Lesson #2: Embrace Change
Over the three years that I’ve had my locs, the texture of my hair has changed, the size of my locs has changed, the length of my locs has the change, the color of my locs has changed… The loc journey is a constant evolution. Each month my hair looks different and I discover new things that I can do with it. On the flipside, change also means that I lose the ability to do certain things with my hair that I used to do.
My loc journey serves as a reminder that nothing in life is permanent. Over the last three years I’ve become more optimistic in challenging times because I know that change is inevitable. My loc journey also inspires me to maximize my enjoyment of the present and to be more appreciative of what I currently have because who knows what next month will bring.
Lesson #3: Freedom
Initially when I locked my hair I was obsessed with ensuring that my parts were perfectly spaced boxes, but what I found was that the more I tried to manipulate my hair, the more I weakened my roots. I remember being up late one night researching how to fix weak locs when I honestly asked myself why I was fighting with my hair. If my hair wants to tangle, let it tangle! And so it was then that I started to semi-freeform and haven’t looked back since. My hair is at its healthiest, edges are on fleek, and finally I am free from being a slave to my hair! I no longer live in fear of pool parties and unanticipated thunderstorms, and I blissfully swim in the ocean unencumbered.
My locs are my outward expression of my desire to live a free and authentic life. When I look in the mirror, my locs challenge me to uphold my integrity in my intentions, decisions and actions. I love my locs.
I’ve been Black all my life, born with and have had vast experience with Black hair; and yet, it never ceases to amaze me.
The capabilities of Black hair are infinite.
Stylist Kris McDred, lives and works in Dubai, has just discovered another one. As a loc-ed lady, I know that the months it takes for your hair to lock can be extremely annoying. While you might expect your hair to be fully formed into perfectly coiffed locs, that is just not the reality of the situation, or it wasn’t for me. And many others. For six months, I walked around with fuzzy, two-strand twists I couldn’t wash on my own. My hair was such a mess that a full year after I’d begun the process, my younger cousin just realized what I was trying to do.
But McDred claims to have discovered a technique that claims to bypass that awkward, “I-don’t-like-my-locs” phase altogether.
He uses a rattail comb, a crochet hook and a bit of molding gel. Then he interlocks the remaining strands afterward.
Yes, it probably is as difficult as it sounds. McDred said that it takes some time to master the technique but the results are quite impressive and they just might help somebody not give up before they even get started on their loc journey.
You can watch McDred in action in the video below;
Does the ability to skip this awkward phase change your thinking about possibly getting locs? Do you believe there’s value in the process of allowing your hair to grow and lock naturally, on its own?
Normally, it’s the women who rock head-turning hairstyles, but these celebrity men made us do a double take at their dreadlocks.
Fetty Wap may be one of the hottest artists on the radio right now, but when the “Trap Queen” rapper suddenly started sporting faux dreads a few months ago, a lot of people weren’t feeling it. Even still, Wap has continued to rock his new ‘do with the utmost confidence, regardless of the hate.
When I heard Giuliana Rancic’s comments about Zendaya Coleman’s faux dreadlocks, the first thing I did was smell my own dreads to make sure they didn’t smell like weed…
Thankfully, they didn’t. But if they did, why should it matter?
Marijuana is either being decriminalized or legalized in cities and states across the country, and lots of folks are getting paid legitimately through the sale of Cannabis. Well, make that lots of folks outside of Black people. Although we are still getting locked up for illegal possession of it while others get rich, we apparently have more important issues to worry about – like looking more respectable.
Or as Jamilah Lemieux, the senior digital editor of Ebony.com writes:
It’s important that we understand that Rancic’s words were offensive because of the ways this stereotype, and the criminalization of weed, have harmed Black people. However, it’s also critical for us to consciously stop supporting the idea that weed smokers are bad, weed is bad, poor people who rely on government subsidies shouldn’t have it because it’s going to keep them from working hard, etc.
I understand why saying that Coleman would defend herself by name checking Ledisi, Ava DuVernay, Terry McMillian and other noteworthy Black folks who wear locs, faux and otherwise, by stating that they don’t “smell like marijuana.” However, I wouldn’t want her or anyone else to be disappointed if that assertion isn’t true.
I have some confessions to make: I have dreadlocks so long, they touch the small of my back. Most times, I pin them up into elaborate updos, and that makes it look like I have big regal crown sitting on top of my head. I am such a hair snob that I only grease my scalp with organic extra virgin olive oil and wash my locks in distilled water.
But I also eat double cheeseburgers from McDonald’s.
And because I was perm-less for nearly a decade prior to making the decision to lock my hair, I never did a big chop. Instead, I was able to skip over the stage where you look like Kyle from “Living Single” (I don’t care how cute you are in the face, it happens to everybody in that awkward growth stage) and into the stage where I had some actual length. Also, I have no desire to move to Ethiopia, although a visit would be nice.
The point I’m trying to make here is that there are all kinds of assumptions and stigmatizations around locks that go way beyond the fear of smelling like weed. When you have locks, people expect certain things from you. They want you to know about healing crystals and how to recite the Swahili alphabet on command. They also expect you to be righteous, noble and respectable at all times.
Like the time when an employer, who was a Black woman, kept giving me the Black power fist and teasing me about being a member of MOVE (a black liberation group in Philly) every time I had a question or made a statement in a meeting. Now granted, I consider myself one smart militant cookie, and there is nothing wrong with being “on the MOVE.” However, I also know a slight when I hear one. I don’t want people using my hair as an excuse to malign and dismiss both my work and my words just because they have stereotypical views of both dreadlocks and the function of Black liberation groups. And that is exactly what I told my former employer. Although she apologized profusely and claimed that she meant no harm, I was treated like a troublemaker around the office after the incident.
And it’s not just passive aggressive workplace harassment we’re talking about here. The assumptions about my hair are everywhere. Not only do we have Wendy Williams out here telling folks that natural hair isn’t red carpet ready, but we also have Anthony Mackie, in the role of Supreme Negro Apologist, advising young men to leave locks alone if they want to avoid mistreatment by law enforcement. With so many people wanting to associate negativity with the hairstyle, and many natural hairstyles in general, you can certainly understand why folks might get a bit defensive about all of this.
But when we get to the point in our defense where we are limiting the kind of people we think deserve to be associated with the hairstyle, it’s pretty safe to say that we have gone too far in trying to make our hair both respectable and acceptable to the mainstream. Because why can’t dreads be both red carpet and dime-bag ready?
According to the book Chasing Down Babylon, dreadlocks have long had different levels of significance for the Rastafarian community, and that includes showing a commitment to naturalness, as well as a desire to “generate fear in the heart of the Babylonians.” But aesthetically, dreadlocks are also a rejection of Babylon’s definition of beauty and culture.
If my dreadlocks have to make a statement, I would prefer that my hair represents a counteraction to the current European standard of beauty. But that’s if my hair has to make a statement. My actual preference is that my hair could just be seen as a reflection of my individual style and nothing more. I don’t know about the rest of you, but I don’t want people walking down the street using my hair to make assumptions about my intelligence, my commitment to the community and social justice, and how much weed I smoke–unless they are going to front me a bag.
Don’t Be Like Giuliana Rancic: 11 Assumptions People Make About Those Who Wear Locs That Don’t Make Sense
Ever since Giuliana Rancic assumed that the faux locs Zendaya Coleman wore to the Academy Awards on Sunday made her look like “she smells like patchouli oil and weed,” people have been dragging the E! personality and “Fashion Police” host on social media. But comments like this aren’t surprising. For as far back as people have been wearing locs, others have been making some very interesting and very stupid assumptions about them. I know because I’ve been on both sides: I’ve been the loc wearer and the assuming party.
Don’t get caught out here talking like Rancic, ya’ll. Cut it out with these assumptions:
That Our Hair, And Our Bodies, Are Dirty
Unless we’re talking about the early stages of locking one’s hair, those with locs can wash their hair just as often as anyone else washes their hair. But just because you might come across a few people who wear locs and happen to look and smell a little funky doesn’t mean the rest of us don’t value a good bath and shampoo.
Tamon George is a little bit more than disappointed with the Thurgood Marshall College Fund (TMCF). He’s incredulous. The MBA student at the University of the District of Columbia, was accepted to attend the Thurgood Marshall College Fund (TMCF) – Leadership Institute in October. Of course, George, who currently serves as the president of the Graduate Student Government Association and participates in several judicial committees governing the University, was excited about the opportunity.
Well, he was until he was informed that The Thurgood Marshall College Fund bans “dreadlocks” on male participants of the conference. “Thus, my invitation to attend the conference would be contingent upon the removal of my hair. Given that I wear my hair in the same manner as my father–serving as a representation of my cultural identity, heritage, and spirit, I feel it is highly discriminatory and sexist to make such a ruling,” writes George in a Change.org petition he started to get TMCF to lift its dreadlocks ban.
George did not attend the conference took place on November 9-13, 2014, with the aim of providing attendees with leadership training and job and internship opportunities with Fortune 500 companies.
“TMCF is not honoring the legacy of the late Justice Thurgood Marshall who stood for equality and educational advocacy,” writes George. Civil Rights advocate and lawyer Marshall was the first African-American Supreme Court Justice.
George spoke with MadameNoire about the petition.
MadameNoire.com: Why launch the petition?
Tamon George: The petition was created because of a “dreadlocks ban” that was instituted at the Thurgood Marshall College Fund (TMCF). The president of the organization has claimed that regardless of intelligence, any Black male who wears dreadlocks is unemployable in a corporate arena, and therefore needs not attend the annual TMCF – Leadership Institute.
MN: The petition has 5,391 signatures to date. How many more to you need for your goal?
TG: There is no specific target amount numerically for the petition, it will stay online indefinitely. People responded very quickly, mainly because of the egregiousness nature of the ban, and of course because this ban does not represent public sentiment regarding diversity and inclusion. I believe the public was so quick to respond because of the sheer shock when hearing that an organization that was founded on the name of a great civil rights leader was involved in a ban of this nature.
MN: Any response from TMCF?
TG: TMCF has yet to release an official statement regarding the policy. [MN is reaching out to the TMCF and will update the story with any comment we receive.]
MN: Do you find it ironic that an organization of color has such a ban?
TG: It is more than ironic that TMCF would implement this policy. I did however, reach out to the son of Chief Justice Thurgood Marshall to inform him of the policy. He stated that he is unaffiliated with the organization and was not aware of the policy. He did however note that he was disappointed that this situation has occurred.
MN: What is your goal with the petition?
TG: The ultimate goal is very simple, to have the ban reversed. It is extremely disappointing that only one ethnic group has to have these types of conversations. The goal is for the individuals who implement this ban, and those who support it, to confront their unfounded fear of any Black man with a strong cultural identity.
MN: Besides the petition, what are you doing to make this happen?
TG: I will continue to do interviews and articles around this issue. I think the real change will happen when people have these conversations amongst their families, their colleagues and friends. Therefore, I simply encourage people to have a dialogue about cultural identity and conformity.
Looking to make a hair statement? There’s no better way than to ditch the product, put away the blow dryer and jump into dreadlocks. With some of Hollywood’s biggest stars proudly rocking locs, we felt it was only appropriate that we salute some of the most memorable dreadlock looks over the years.
A couple of weeks ago, we wrote about the tribute Future gave to his two babies fiancée Ciara and his new son Future. If you look closely, in the Instagram picture, you can see a sneak peek of Ciara’s hair and they look like locs. As a fellow dread head, I noticed this and quickly put it out of my mind. But yesterday, Ciara released a series of images where she’s showing off her loc extensions and personally I’m here for it but the response was mixed. Wonder if Ciara was inspired by her fiancé/baby fatha Future?
Take a look at the pics and let us know if you dig these.
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.