Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Is it natural?

Some of the appeal of dreadlocks to me is the image of the easy-going, no fuss, no worries life. Wake up and go! Don't wanna wash your hair for four days? No worries, dreads don't show grease like fine, straight hair does! I can't speak for others' impressions of dreads, but I kinda associate them with a modern version of the "hippie" movement: let things be natural; don't fret about the small stuff or waste time with frivolous primping; learn to appreciate the world around us without feeling the need to change it; learn to appreciate our own bodies - our colors, our shapes, even our smells - in the same way.

Since I'm already a little bit hippie - I practically never wear makeup, I let my hair air dry and avoid products beyond basic shampoo and conditioner, I let my leg hair go natural most of the time, etc - I figured dreads would be a perfect fit for me.

Then I researched them. Fine hair like mine fights being dreaded, so for the first few months after the initial intensive knot-making, tons of extra precautions have to be taken to make sure all that work doesn't unravel: rubber bands, super-duper shampoo that will rid hair of any grease that might help loosen the knots, rolling the dreads every week (one site suggested every day), and some people use wax to keep the hair glued together until the knots set. Also, after washing dreads, you have to make sure they're completely dry (which I'm thinking means I'd have to use a blow dryer), so that they don't rot, and you have to get special shampoos that won't leave gross residue to guck up the dreads and make them disgusting. All the work involved is one of the reasons that I didn't dread my hair years ago.

I have to ask myself, do I really want to put so much effort into a hairstyle that gives the impression that I don't put any effort into it? I mean, a lot of people think that people with dreads don't even put forth the effort to wash them! Others seem to think that dreads happen because you haven't brushed your hair in a really long time. All the while, I'd actually be rolling my dreads as often as I could, spending an hour or so to make sure every single one isn't damp after I wash them, crocheting and looping and waxing them when the roots grow out un-knotted or strands come out, etc. Given how much of a lazy hippie I am, do I really wanna to put that much effort into -any- hairstyle?

The flip side? Dreads look super cool, they would add volume to my fine, straight hair, and in theory, after those first few intensive months, they'd become easy maintenance. Easier maintenance than my current routine? Probably not. Right now I don't have to blow dry my hair after I wash it, and I don't have to worry that as it grows out, the roots might not lock into my dreads. But as far as hairstyles that require maintenance go, the upkeep is relatively low, and after years of thinking how cool it'd be to have dreads, maybe I'm finally ready to put in some work to make that happen.

They might not be as much work as they sound. They might be so great that I won't mind the effort and I'll want to keep them forever and ever, til death do us part. Or they'll be even more work than I think, and they may for whatever reason look terrible on me, so I'll want them gone. Who knows?

Gotta have dreadlocks myself to find out!

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