ditching the dreadlocks

my hair and its never ending procession of styles has always been a reflection of my internal landscape, or a reaction to an external event or stressor.

just experienced a major life event such as getting married? get hair cut the very next day.

*manic phase? great idea – cut own hair off with rubbish scissors in the dead of night, fuck it up and have no time to visit hair salon, go to work, have everyone point out seriously bad self hair cut.

exam? public speaking? chew ends of hair until soggy and split.

bored of beautiful long hair and fancy a change? get drastic pixie cut, bleach hair and dye pink. leave salon looking like frilly kawaii cupcake.

spend too much time on Pinterest and decide that life’s purpose is to be fabulously grounded earth mama artist. get dreadlocks.

so, I’m kidding (mostly) about that last one. i will never be fabulously grounded. i’d wanted dreads for the longest time but until a few years ago, the only installation methods I’d heard of sounded extremely damaging and there were horror stories around that really put me off.

i went through a massive Bob Marley phase when the Legend album came out. on vinyl. not because I’m an ironic hipster but because I am actually that old. my friends and I wore marijuana leaf necklaces (but didn’t smoke it), green, gold and red headbands, and wrote ‘together we are one under Jah’s sun,’ on everything as if we knew what it meant. oh boy, did the 80s have cultural appropriation down to a fine art. but with the music, came the rumours that would be meme-able in today’s society.

bob marley dreadlocks
see what i mean

“did you hear they shaved Bob Marley’s head when he died and there were cockroaches living in his hair?”**

to be honest, I’d be more inclined to believe there are things living in Bob Geldof’s hair over Bob Marley’s.

but the horror stories that put me off having dreads were the ones about damaged hair, mould and the inevitable shaving of the head due to poor hair care practices.

eventually i discovered the perfect system, where the hair is crocheted together using a hook – minimal damage, no wax products, easy to maintain, so i went for it. at the time my hair was growing out of the kawaii cupcake pixie phase so I had to dye it back to a more natural colour, and it was asymmetrical so only one side was long enough to dread. I went back and forth to my locktician several times, adding extensions until my whole head was finished. i’m not the most patient of people so the waiting was simultaneously frustrating and exciting. i removed the extensions after almost 2 years.

i loved having my dreads for the most part.

i felt real with them. confident. i had hair peace for longer than i ever had in the past.***

i enjoyed the conversations with strangers that came my way because of them. most people admitted they were afraid to ask questions because of their preconceived notions about the types of people who have dreadlocks (lazy, dirty, dishonest!)

but the truth is, I have very fine hair and no matter how much I tried to tame it, the fly-away fluffy hair at the roots wouldn’t stay locked in. I’d get my maintenance done every few weeks and within a week, out the hair would pop again.

i persevered for 2.5 years before the frustration outweighed the love i had for my hair. i admitted defeat and my eldest daughter**** and i began the long process of combing out the dreads, one by one.

you know when your kids bring barbie with her matted synthetic hair to you and demand you detangle that shit and make it look the way it did before they ‘played hairstyles’ with it and dragged it through the mud and you wonder if you can get away with buying a new barbie to replace it instead? well that’s how much it sucked. it took two of us something like 60+ hours to complete. if I didn’t have a five-head and a lumpy skull I’d have given up around the oh my god I look like Tina Turner i’m your private dancer, dancer for money, kill me now phase and shaved them off instead.

there was a Robert Smith of The Cure phase too but that was less kill me now and more oh wow, I remember the early 90s when i had this hairstyle on purpose…

after 7 long and excruciating days, we made it.

granted, i had (still sorta have) a professor trelawney going on.

and it feels a little draughty up here.

but it’s done.


*in the process of changing meds so i REALLY hope i don’t do this during the transition.

**just because it’s on a meme, people, doesn’t make it true.

***i suspect this is because i’ve also had medication peace for a few years too.

****youngest daughter also attempted to help briefly and I love her dearly but she’s never allowed near my head again for as long as i live.