You might already know it: I recently got dreadlocks. If you didn’t know, you can check out some of my videos on youtube to see them.
I think, my first learning from having dreadlocks is that they are not a state but a journey, they keep evolving and changing and there is so much to learn about dreadlocks that I thought it would be good to write a bit about them. So here is why and how I got my dreadlocks in Mexico.
Here is a picture of my hair before dreadlocks. It was taken at a beach in La Ventana, Baja California, Mexico.
Why I decided to get dreadlocks
We went swimming in salt water very often. Which is a good thing. But my hair got very entangled often and dryer and dryer. It bothered me. For a while I thought I wanted to cut it short to make it easier. But I really, really like my hair long. I would like to have much longer hair but never got that far because it always bothered me how much work it was.
And then I thought, before I cut it short(er), why not try dreadlocks? Simple thought process really.
Dreadlocks and cultural appropriation
Dreadlocks aren’t just a hairstyle but there is meaning behind them. I read some articles in order to find out if I really should do it or not. I soon found out about the discussion around ‘dreadlocks and cultural appropriation’.
Cultural appropriation is, in short, when one takes important symbols from another culture and uses them for his or her own purpose, for example as a trendy, cool style. Especially when the ‘taker’ is from a dominant group and the been-taken-from-culture is a minority group, and the symbols are taken without previous permission, it’s being perceived as inappropriate and disrespectful.
One example of cultural appropriation is using Native American headdresses for Halloween or Karneval. Don’t ever do that!
Dreadlocks are often worn by African people or their descendants, eg African American. Bob Marley being one of the famous persons who was wearing dreadlocks. Rastafari are a large group of dreadlock wearing people and the dreadlocks have an important meaning for them.
So the discussion around dreadlocks circles around white people who have dreadlocks. Is that cultural appropriation, yes or no?
Why I got dreadlocks anyway
Even though I’m clearly white and I know about this discussion I decided to get dreadlocks. Dreadlocks aren’t invented by African people, there have been many other peoples throughout history in which dreadlocks were worn. For religious, spiritual reasons, or as a political statement. Greek, Aztec, Buddhists, Indians (from India), Christians have had people wearing dreadlocks and they are also found in the Islam. Plus every human being before the invention of combs and brushes.
I don’t count into any of those groups. But nowadays dreadlocks are also worn ‘as presentation of a free, alternative or natural spirit’ and that’s the group I count myself being part of.
I had a longer talk with an Indian gentleman who had dreadlocks, very long dreadlocks. In his opinion dreadlocks are also worn by people who deeply care about the environment which fits the ‘free, alternative or natural spirit’ statement. And I do deeply care about the environment.
Now that I have dreadlocks for almost 3 months I feel like this is the correct hair style for me. It perfectly fits my inner world and gives others a glimpse of who I am. A free spirit.
I know that many people can’t understand why someone would do such ‘horrible thing’ to their hair or someone would want to look that strange. I can assure you, you’ll get used to seeing me this way and at some point don’t even see them anymore. I’m still the same person.
How I got my dreadlocks
We had met this lovely family: Paulina, Sun and their little girl, in Baja California. Paulina is a Macramé Master and she was happy to help me make dreadlocks. She looked up many videos on youtube about how to make dreadlocks.
We had a whole lot of fun while dreading, the boys got drunk and the kids were playing in the sand. It took long to make one dreadlock though. After 10 hours we had around 8.5 dreads.
Our travels lead us to Mexico Mainland and since Paulina lives in Baja I had those 8.5 dreads for a while. I tried to make more every time we were driving to a new camp spot and it was Bastian’s turn to drive. The dreads that I made turned out like terrible fluffy things and I was certain that they wouldn’t last long. I got scared. Would I look like I had a birds nest on my head?
I worked hard on them but finally decided that this wasn’t the right way to go. So I googled dreadlock services in bigger cities on our route. And found Donovan with Dreads One Love in Guadalajara.
Donovan offered to make a full head of dreadlocks for 300 pesos and fix the existing one’s for 150 pesos and it would take 3.5 hours. I was speechless. I even asked how many people would work on it at the same time but it was just one person. How was that possible?
I was excited when I went to meet Donovan. This was a somewhat life changing event. How would the dreads turn out, how would I like them?
Donovan makes dreadlocks since 7 years so he has a ton of experience. Here you can see him work:
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Here is the state right after the dreads were made:
Since they are ever evolving and there is a whole lot to do with them and learn about them, I’m going to give you an update one day.
I’d love to know what you think about the ‘White people and cultural appropriation’ discussion! Please use the comment section below to let me know. Thank you!