Why Do People Wear Dreadlocks?

DREADLOCKS have become very popular throughout society. While there are several reasons why people wear them there are also some bizarre beliefs about them.
From the corporate world to the basketball court and everywhere in between, more and more people can be seen wearing dreadlocks. Although they have existed since ancient times, it is only in recent years that they have become socially acceptable among diverse groups of people.
As this style has evolved, new techniques have developed to start the process. The most traditional methods of starting dreadlocks are two-strand twisting or palm rolling individual sections of hair. Over a period of time, depending on the texture of the individual’s hair, the sections will lock, creating a rope-like effect.
As with any hairstyle, wearing dreadlocks is an individual choice. There are a variety of reasons why people choose to wear dreads. These include the following:
Fashion statement. Since dreadlocks have become popular some people wear them simply because it’s seen as the cool thing to do. They may be emulating popular athletes and musicians who wear them.
Versatility. Dreadlocks can be styled in a variety of ways. They can be worn up or down, braided together or loose. They can be worn straight or crinkly. They can even be coloured using henna or traditional colouring methods. Some people colour their entire mane, while others colour selected locks or the tips of each lock. Ornaments such as beads or shells can be used to adorn the hair. The only limit being the wearer’s imagination.
Maintenance. While dreadlocks require careful care and maintenance, many people, especially women, find that they are easier to maintain than other hairstyles. This is especially true of women who have used relaxers or other methods to style their hair. Changing the texture of hair using chemicals or heat causes stress on the hair and significantly increases the amount of maintenance required to keep the hair looking healthy and nice. Since dreadlocks do not require any of these methods, women who have experienced frustration with chemical and/or heat styling may find dreadlocks to be a viable alternative.
Cultural statements. For many years, the standard of beauty in Western society has included long, straight hair. For people of African descent and other ethnic nationalities who did not have naturally straight hair, achieving this ideal requires the use of harsh chemicals and/or heat styling.
As multicultural awareness and appreciation for other standards of beauty has increased, many people of African descent no longer feel the need to conform to Western beauty standards. For them, wearing dreadlocks is a symbol of pride in their heritage and appreciation and acceptance of their natural hair texture.
Religious reasons. Followers of the Jamaican based Rastafarian religion wear dreadlocks as part of their spiritual beliefs. Rastafarians use the command not to cut one’s hair in Leviticus 21:5 as the basis for wearing dreadlocks. Also, they view dreadlocks as resembling a lion’s mane, a reference to the Lion of the Tribe of Judah, the title of Emperor Haile Selassie I of Ethiopia, whom they view as God incarnate.
However, a lot of misconceptions also exist about dreadlocks as a hairstyle.
While dreadlocks are a popular hair choice today, this has not always been the case, partly because of these misconceptions about them and the people who wear them. These misconceptions include the following:
“Dreadlocks are not clean”. People mistakenly believe that people who wear dreadlocks do not wash their hair. This misconception may be partly due to the fact that when the hair first begins to lock, traditional shampooing sometimes cannot be used because this will keep the locks from staying together. However, there are many ways to keep the scalp and hair clean even during this time, such as using lemon juice or sudsless shampoo. Once the hair locks, it can be washed normally.
“You can’t get a job wearing dreadlocks”. As previously stated, at one time dreadlocks were not widely seen as acceptable, but this is becoming less and less the case. While some companies may have specific dress and grooming standards, people who wear dreadlocks can be seen working in a wide variety of positions, including white-collar professions. An individual wearing dreadlocks who is looking for employment just needs to make sure that their hair is clean and neatly groomed, just like anyone else.
“You have to shave your head to get rid of dreadlocks”. Some people are afraid to start dreadlocks because they believe that if they want to change their hairstyle, then they will have to cut all of their hair off and start over. While this is the quickest way to get rid of dreadlocks, it is not the only way. There are products available to aid in the process of removing dreadlocks. Some people may try these themselves, while others may want to seek out the help of a loctician.
“People with straight hair can’t grow dreadlocks”. Dreadlocks can be formed with virtually any hair texture. While hair that is naturally coarse and/or curly will lock faster, even people with straight hair can grow dreadlocks. The general rule of thumb is that the straighter or finer the hair texture, the longer it will take for the hair to lock. Patience and careful care and maintenance are required of anyone trying to grow dreadlocks, regardless of the hair texture.
According to those who wear the hairstyle, growing dreadlocks can be an exciting, sometimes frustrating process and those who can be patient enough are rewarded with a versatile, unique expression of their individuality.