When you have dreads you get somewhat accustomed to answering oddball questions, people staring & strangers petting your hair. To be fair I suppose I hadn’t ever felt a dread until I was 20 & I accidentally befriended a dreadhead whilst studying abroad. There’s a certain amount of curiosity & wonder that comes along with these 45 things living on my head. I’ve had mine for 32 months now & I’m finally starting to hit my stride but it’s been a long, awkward road full of dread mullets & anxiousness.
On the days when I feel like shaving my head I look to other dready women to remind me there’s hope for a better hair day. One of those women just wrote a book about this crazy little journey called dreadlocks. In it she shares her own journey of seven years with dreads as well as shares the stories of other women with dreads. If you know me, you know I love hearing people’s stories so today I’m sharing my own & answering the same questions she asked all of her interviewees. Giddyup!
- Do you remember the first time you saw dreadlocks? Growing up in Eugene it’s impossible for me to remember the first time I saw dreads, they were a part of being downtown or really just in town. But the first time I saw dreadlocks and wanted them was when I was studying abroad & my girl Nicki spent all of our classes together playing with her dreads. It was just a few days after she visited me in Oregon a few years later that I took the plunge.
- Before you had dreads, what were some things that held you back from taking the step to do them? It never felt like there was a good time to do them. I was aware it would be a commitment to having weird hair for awhile & it’s hard to look at the next few years of your life & ask yourself if you can handle looking like a fool during all those events. When I finally did put my dreads in I was about to be a bridesmaid in a good friend’s wedding & graduation was just around the corner.. so many moments to document the awkward phases.
- How did you put your dreads in? How long have you had your dreads? I did nothing. I sat there & watched nine hours of movies & TV while my roommate slaved away to put them in. We were bored during the summer & it was a good way to waste a day. She had five blisters to show for it, I had 45 dreads. It’s been 32 months since then.. which is unbelievable.
- How long do you plan on keeping them? Who knows. Lately they’ve been getting heavier as they start to grow in length (finally) instead of width. That leads to some headaches or neck aches if I wear them up for too long. But I don’t have plans to hack ‘em off anytime soon. I personally think they’re the ideal mom-hair since you don’t have to “do” them, or wash them much, so I’ll probably keep them until after we have our fleet of children.
- How often do you wash them and what product(s) are you currently using? These days I wash them when I realize I can’t remember the last day I washed them & when I have the day off work. It takes about a day for them to fully dry, even with blow drying, and wearing them up during that drying process isn’t good for them (read: molding) so it’s a process. The only things I use in them anymore are Dr. Bronner’s castile soap & apple cider vinegar for “conditioning” them. Once dreads mature they’re wicked cheap to maintain, which is lovely.
- If you are married or dating, was your significant other supportive of your decision to dread your hair? How about your immediate family? I think my mom bit the couch when I called her & told her my hair plans. Luckily some of my siblings were there at the time to remind her having different hair doesn’t mean I’m a different person — though I have changed a lot as a result of dreads. As for the ol’ spouse situation, he’s never known me without dreads. Somehow he even managed to fall in love with me during my absolute worst dread phase & he’s the one who says I can’t get rid of them for at least ten years. So I guess you could say he’s supportive.
- What is your favorite thing about having dreadlocks? Gosh, so many things. I love not “doing” my hair, I never knew how to do my hair before I had dreads anyways. I love playing with them & getting to know each dread. When I think of cutting them off I think about how much I’d miss the dread I can stick a finger through, or the one that has a crazy root, or that short one that finally started growing.. Each one is unique & I know them well. Although seeing pictures of my dreads always surprises me because I feel them often but I rarely get to see the back of my head.
- Why did you dread your hair? Do your dreads have a spiritual meaning to you? I dreaded my hair because I wanted to. I’ve always liked doing crazy things with my hair like donating it, cutting it down to an inch or dreading it. I’m not one for coloring my hair but I love being able to test the limits of “beauty” through my hair, among other things. Some days I try to find spiritual meaning in them & I could probably lie & tell you they’ve taught me things about Jesus but mostly they’re teaching me things about culture & how we view others.
- What has been the biggest challenge with having dreads? It is hard to be patient while they do weird things. From having one side of my head shrink up while the other side kept it’s length, to having countless dread mullets, to having dreads which undreaded in the middle.. I’ve been through a lot these past 2.5 years. But they’ve never once held me back, in fact I’ve gotten more jobs & had more opportunities because of my hair than I would’ve had without them. Something about dreads implies to people you’re interesting, which is nice cause I would never say that on my own.
- Do you have any funny stories or comments from others about your dreads? When I flew to Scotland a few years back my dreads were just about 8 months old. The Portland airport had just installed those fancy (creepy) new full body scanners to make sure we’re all bomb free. It was my first time in the tube but I had nothing to hide so I wasn’t nervous. Until I got pulled aside afterwards to have my hair manually searched because it showed up as a “mass” on the scan. I don’t think I’ll ever get used to that but it is a fun way to get to know your local TSA.
Have anything else you’re curious to know about dreads? Leave a question in the comments!