So it turns out my dreadlock knowledge had a woefully gaping hole in it, and I couldn't have been happier to find out!!
As a kid, dreadlocks were explained to me as things that formed when people failed to wash and comb their hair. Essentially the easiest care plan in the world: simply leave it alone. Although I was also told that on hair like mine dreads would take several years to form this way, and when they did form, they'd likely clump together into one big dread and generally look ratty and nasty, rather than fun and funky. (While researching last night, I did find several personal success stories of those who'd formed dreads using the "neglect" method. They did not stop washing their hair; they only stopped combing it. Those who began the process with longer hair, seemed to get faster results, possibly even slimmer dreads, though I think the size of the dreads was really determined by how much work the individual put into tearing the mats apart as they formed, to make sure they didn't create one giant knot.)
When I began to research how to make dreads a few years ago, the resources I found all seemed to say that neglect was not the only way to form dreads (in fact, they agreed with my childhood source that neglect would create rather mangled looked dreads). These newer sources said that if I sectioned and backcombed and used rubber bands and wax, I would only have to wait three to four months for dreads instead of three to four years, and my dreads would look way cool and funky. As I said in my previous posts, my hippie heart wasn't excited about the idea of all the products and maintenance, but after much contemplation, I decided to go for them anyway.
Well, last night I realized that there's a middle ground!! How on earth I didn't realize this before surpasses me. I kinda feel silly that I really believed that if I didn't follow a super strict regiment with wax and tightening/accelerating gels and sprays, etc, that my hair would just fall out and possibly never dread or else dread into a horrible mat. I guess considering my limited exposure to others who have dreadlocks and what I was told as a child, I shouldn't fault myself too much, but regardless, the fact stands, I just realize last night that there's another way to get dreads!
I'm not sure why stories like these didn't come up when I searched a few years ago (the stories themselves were newer than a few years old), but last night I found videos of people who had dreaded their hair the "natural" (not the same as the "neglect") way. Basically, they did the same thing as was recommended on the product sites, but without the products. I found more than one person who documented the dreads through the first year, etc, of these natural dreads, and it didn't take years before they looked good. It didn't seem to take that much longer than the dreads on the product sites. I'm stoked!! I can get dreads without having to fuss with new stuff like wax and spray, etc. Yay!!!
There seems to be a big controversy in the dread world about whether or not wax should be used, so I feel the need to add that just because I don't want to use wax in my dreads (for right now - I won't swear off anything forever until I've tried it a couple times), doesn't mean that I believe the people selling wax are liars who are making things up. The truth is the dreads the people selling wax were rockin' definitely looked different from the dreads the people who'd backcombed and crocheted (no kidding, with a crochet needle - it was amazing - I'm so getting a crochet needle!) their hair were rockin'. And to be fair, the dreads that were formed using the neglect and natural methods did seem for the most part to be slowly progressing towards the look that the wax dreads had achieved so quickly. But the point is, the dreads looked different.
And I liked the look of the natural dreads better! Not only did the wax sound like it was a lot of work, but the dreads shown on the wax site looked ... too perfect. They were so uniform and round and thin that they looked just like someone's normal hair, only with fatter follicles. Perhaps if I'd always had crazy puffy hair that wouldn't stay down, I'd be totally diggin that look, but I've always had hair that has struggled for volume. I don't want dreads 'cause they'll keep my hair calm and more manageable. I want dreads 'cause they'll give me that crazy bedhead, ragamuffin, fun and funky, ends-every-which-way look that my straight, fine hair won't give me without gobs and gobs of products or over a week of no shampoo (when my hair is short enough). I don't really find either of those choices appealing as a regular styling option. Thus, dreads' appeal! And when I found the videos I found of girls who had dreaded their fine, straight hair naturally, I found videos of dreads that looked exactly the way I'd hoped mine would turn out!
So my dread journey is going to be a natural dread journey. Which makes my hippie heart very, very happy. In fact, I'm bursting with excitement. I can't wait to begin!! I'm so excited, I just want to start backcombing all of my hair right now - even if it takes me twelve hours by myself - I'm not sure I can wait til next week for my friends' help!!