Monday, February 14, 2011

Family Reaction

When considering dreads, considering the reactions of others - specifically whether or not you are willing/prepared to handle them - is important. Any place I came across that showed how to make dreads seemed to bring this up. I wasn't really worried. Answering strangers' questions about how often (or if) I wash my hair, no problem! Explaining how I made my dreads sounded fun.

One site even suggested that because of how common negative reactions to dreadlocks are, I should tell my family before dreading my hair, so they would be prepared. That idea hadn't even occurred to me! It's my hair, my hairstyle. I wouldn't tell my family before I dyed my hair red or cut it short, would I? No, so why would I bother to tell them before I dread it? But then I decided that maybe it was good advice. Not because I -needed- to, but because telling my family would help them feel like more a part of my life.

I was not prepared for my family's reaction. I was so excited about dreading my hair, that I guess it didn't even occur to me that my family might not share that excitement. And boy, did they NOT share that excitement! With my entire family gathered for Christmas in February (we couldn't get together in December), I announced to my mother, father, sisters and brothers-in-law, and their responses were overwhelming: "why would you want to stop washing and brushing your hair for years?" "your hair's not long enough. Doesn't your hair have to be long enough for you to wipe your armpits with it? I thought that was part of the gig;" "they're so ugly." There were more responses, but those are the ones that stuck the most painfully. From strangers, sure. From family? I don't want to have to deal with that every time I see them with dreads in my hair.

Hopefully, in time, I'll at least be able to explain that it's clean, and maybe some of the jibes will stop. Bombarded with all of those negative reactions at once, I didn't get a chance to really explain that they weren't true. In time, I guess. I hope. Strangers are one thing. Family is another. But as much as it hurt, it doesn't change my mind. Sure, I wish they had been more supportive, but for the most part, they didn't really ask questions (or at least, they didn't give me a chance to answer any of the ones they asked - meaning they didn't really want answers!). I take that to mean that they don't really care. Translation: I'm free to do as I choose. Sure, I'll get ragged on, but frankly, certain members of my family like to tease so much that they'll always find something to poke me with - might as well be my hair.

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