The only blog post I’ve written about my dreadlocks

This is it.

I thought I’d blogged about them before but apparently not, which it makes it kind of ironic that I am doing now after removing them.

Oh wells.

9 months ago I went from this:

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To this:

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It took ten hours and when I got home with my new hair the boys were delighted that I had “become a dinosaur”.

In the months that followed I learned a lot about life with dreads that no amount of research beforehand could really have prepared me for.  Such as:

PEOPLE WILL STARE

Just ask Chris, who couldn’t quite believe the level of interest my head attracted on a trip to Starbucks with the kids.

AND POSSIBLY CROSS THE ROAD TO AVOID YOU

Elderly woman who lives on my street- I’m talking about you lady.

AND ASSUME YOU a. SMOKE POT AND b. CARRY IT ABOUT YOUR PERSON AND c. WILL BE HAPPY TO SHARE IT WITH THEM

Sorry to disappoints you.

EVERYONE WANTS TO KNOW “WHY?”

You’ll get this question a lot, and if you don’t have a deep and profound reason, as I didn’t, you might want to make something up.

EVERYONE WANTS TO KNOW “HOW LONG YOU’LL KEEP THEM”

I said “forever” in answer to this one and/or shrugged.  What I really meant was “for as long as I want” which turns out to have been about 9 months.

NO ONE WILL BELIEVE YOU WHEN YOU SAY THAT YOU WASH THEM

You have to wash them.  Really, you do.  Maybe not quite so often as you had to wash your normal hair (if you’re lucky) but you still gotta shower, people.

WHEN NITS BREAK OUT IN YOUR KIDS CLASS, EVERYONE WILL LOOK AT YOUR HEAD, AND THEN TRY TO LOOK LIKE THEY WEREN’T

I would like to take this opportunity to declare that I do not have nits.  I have not had nits since I was a kid. And my kids do not have nits.  Furthermore, if someone with dreads does get nits, it is not the end of the world, and they would not need to shave their head…although personally, I would probably have adopted a “KILL IT WITH FIRE” approach as nits are one of my worst fears.

YOU NEED PATIENCE, PATIENCE AND MORE PATIENCE

And I just don’t. Have any.

The truth is, that the things I loved most about having dreadlocks were also some of the things that I hated most too, which sounds crazy I know.

But like, the weather thing…dreads don’t move when the wind blows.  Well, I imagine they do if it’s strong enough, but in general, they’re pretty sturdy.  At first I found that to be amaaaaazing, no random hair whipping around your face, sticking to your lips/eyelashes, getting in your mouth, preventing you from seeing where you’re going…but then, I don’t know- I just missed it.  I want to physically experience rain curling my hair and wind blowing it around I guess.  Which definitely sounds crazy, but I don’t care- it’s true!

Also- assumptions.  I loved that in a room of people, strangers or people who didn’t know me very well would make certain assumptions about me based on the fact I had dreadlocks…but that only stands when the things they are assuming are POSITIVE…that I’m young (sort of correct) carefree (absolutely incorrect) veggie (trying, but failing) and liberal (very).  When the assumptions are, shall we say…less positive, then it’s not as much fun is it?  And you can call me over-sensitive (because I am) but there were some occasions when I caught looks or had attitudes from strangers that really took my breath away.

And finally- practicality. In some ways they are the ultimate low-maintenance ‘do’…you don’t have to consider how you’re going to style them (at least, not when they’re the length mine were anyway), it’s either tied up, or not tied up.  You don’t need to comb, brush, curl or straighten, you don’t need to put products in (in fact, you absolutely shouldn’t) BUT on the other hand, I did still need to wash them almost as often as I’d washed my normal hair (once or twice a week for dreads, as opposed to two or three times for my regular hair), and unlike my natural hair, which I almost always left to dry naturally, I HAD to blow-dry my dreads to avoid them getting/smelling damp, the exception being the 3 week heatwave we had last summer.  And blow-drying them took aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaages…and I mean, motherfucking hours.  And oh god, it’s so boring.  Just recently, as I was contemplating whether or not my dreads journey was coming to an end, I really started to resent the entire evenings I had to dedicate to drying them.  Even breaking it up into 20 minute segments over the course of the evening, it’s still unbearably dull, let’s be honest.

Also dandruff: I have it.  It’s never been a real issue because it always got washed, conditioned and brushed away but with dreads it just built up and up and even though no one commented, I still felt majorly self conscious if anyone sat or stood next to me.  So I spent a lot of time trying various methods to combat that too.  All in all, the result was that they really weren’t, the totally laid-back, minimal effort thing that I’d imagined.

All this is sounding very negative, and I really don’t mean it to be.  Because I LOVE dreadlocks, and maybe one day I will have them again.  I have an image of myself as an old woman with loooooong grey dreads and an general aura of “GIVES ABSOLUTELY NO FUCKS” that I’m not quite willing to give up on just yet, so one day I might go through all this again, and who knows, maybe I’ll actually get further along the road with it. But for now, I think I am happy to admire their beauty on other people.

I can tell you this though: it was absolutely worth the ten hours of having them put in, and the 17 hours (across five days) of taking them out just for that first hair wash alone. Oh goooooodddddd it was so good.  In fact, the whole experience of removing my dreads and having HAIR again has been incredible- the first time I tucked a stray hair behind my ear I was like OH WOW THAT FELT GOOD, DO PEOPLE KNOW ABOUT THIS?!  Likewise for running my fingers through my hair, smelling my hair, shaking my head and experiencing something close to pure joy feeling my hair move around.  I haven’t been out in strong winds yet but BOY AM I LOOKING FORWARD TO THAT.

I feel like I am ending this post with the recommendation to GET DREADS AND THEN WHEN YOU’RE BORED TAKE THEM OUT AND FIND BLISS IN THE MUNDANE, and if that’s what you take from reading this, well then I guess that’s not so bad, but I think my point was going to be more along the lines of: Dreadlocks…I am so glad I had them, even for a short while, they introduced me to some awesome people and are the Ultimate Conversation Starter but I am also super sure that removing them was the right decision for me too.

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(After combing out the first one)

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(9 dreads down, 30 to go!)

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(some chopping was required!)

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(I somehow forgot just how curly my hair is!)

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(Not a bad result considering it was achieved solely with Ikea kitchen scissors, an entire bottle of tea tree conditioner and a comb! Oh, and you may notice I have one cheeky little dread left- that one’s staying…for now…)

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7 thoughts on “The only blog post I’ve written about my dreadlocks

  1. April 15/03/2015 / 4:51 pm

    I never understood the stereotype that came along with dreads. it’s just a hairstyle. I am glad you had them and shared your experience! Your hair looks great both ways 🙂

    • rlholland 16/03/2015 / 10:46 am

      Thanks 🙂 I was surprised by some people’s reactions and negativity- but thankfully those people were a minority and most people were curious or positive, and a lot of people just aren’t bothered either way, which is fine too because like you say it’s just hair 😉
      Or it is to me anyway. If I’d felt a deeper connection to them on another level I don’t think it would have been so easy for me to shrug off stares/comments or for me to take them out either…

  2. Ariel Jones 16/03/2015 / 6:38 pm

    I have locs, my locs are my armour and my shield…my locs will have to fall off my head before I cut them. I’m a black female in today’s society, I am already discriminated against so not givin in to fit in forget!!

  3. rlholland 17/03/2015 / 6:01 pm

    Thanks, glad you liked it 🙂 and it’s great that you’ve got such a fantastic relationship with your locs. I know people whose dreadlocks mean more to them than just a way of wearing their hair and I think it must be incredible for those who have had them for years and years to see them change and mature, I’m just not sure I’m cut out for it 😉
    I’m glad I tried though, because otherwise I’d always be wondering what the reality would be like, and I still do think maybe one day I’ll be ready to commit to the journey….just not anytime soon.

  4. leahleah 18/03/2015 / 1:33 pm

    I had almost an identical experience with them as you did.
    I loved them but then they started all growing together and with a newborn & four year old, I simply couldn’t find the time to maintain the roots like I should have.
    They really aren’t as carefree as people make them out to be!
    The only thing different is that I never felt anyone look at me funny as a result of wearing them.
    I do miss the conversation starter thing though!
    I think if my hair would have been much much longer to begin with, I may have stuck it out, but I wound up chop chopping them. Now I miss long hair. Ha ha
    I think if I do them again someday, I’ll go bleach blonde first to mask the inevitable flakies!

    Anyway thanks for the post, makes me feel less bad about giving up on mine 🙂

    -L

    • rlholland 20/03/2015 / 1:34 pm

      Glad you liked it, and that I’m not alone in my experiences! I know what you mean about if they’d been longer- my hair was half way down my back when I got them but because they tightened and shrunk so much I ended up with dreads above my shoulders when I’d been imagining them flowing all gorgeous and lovely down my back! Obviously they would have grown eventually but patience isn’t one of my strongest virtues :/ Hehe. And I can well imagine life with a newborn and a 4 year old is hard enough without adding anything extra into the mix! My boys are 5 and 3 now so those crazy juggling days seem far behind us but I still remember them well 😉

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