Words by Nneka Samuel
While different hairstyles come and go like popular trends are known to do, dreadlocks have been around longer than anyone reading this article has been in existence. And yet the misconceptions – that they’re dirty, difficult to maintain and lack versatility – and stereotypes – people with dreads are unprofessional; dreads are only for certain hair types – still exist. In this latest installment of POTENT’s On the Dread Tip series, we break down the myths one by one.
There’s a myth that people with dreads maintain their locks by not washing their hair. But this couldn’t be further from the truth. Dreadlocks, like any other hairstyle, need to be washed. This healthy routine not only removes any dust, dirt or lint, but aids in both strengthening and forming locks.
Dread Head=Weed Head
Having dreadlocks is not synonymous with smoking marijuana, and vice versa. The belief that the two go hand in hand is almost certainly attributed to the world’s most notable and beloved figure with dreadlocks, Bob Marley. But that doesn’t give you license to go around asking any black man with dreads to give you a light and pass the dro. And speaking of Mr. Marley, it takes a lot more than dreadlocks to make you a Rasta. Not every person with dreads claims to be a Rasta and the assumption that they are is yet another myth.
Wrong Hair Type
When it comes to dreads, there’s no such thing as having the wrong type of hair. If you have hair on your head, it can lock. That’s right, any hair can lock. Kinky hair just might be easier to dread given the tightness of the curl pattern, but with enough care and time, any and all hair will lock.
Not Suitable in the Workplace
If there was a time when afros were considered not suitable for work, you better believe the same thinking applied to dreads. Locks were unfairly deemed wild, distracting, unattractive and unacceptable. Simply put, they were deemed unprofessional. But that fear – of otherness; of not being able to seek or maintain employment with dreads – was clearly embedded in racist beliefs, Eurocentric standards of beauty and, quite frankly, a lack of understanding of the splendor and versatility of our own, natural hair.
Check out almost any YouTube video on dreadlock maintenance and hairstyling, and you’ll see just how versatile they are. Longer dreads are especially adaptable and can be worn in countless styles for any and every type of occasion.