First, let’s start with what dreadlocks are….
Dreadlocks are also commonly referred to as locks, a ras, dreads, or Jata (which is Hindi). These terms are used to describe a hair style consisting of matted coils of hair.
Who wears dreadlocks?
Dreadlocks are very often associated with the Rastafarian movement, a spiritual movement that occurred in Jamaica during the 1930s. However, people of many ethnic groups (eg. the Hamatic people of East Africa; the Sadhus of Nepal, India; the Maori people of New Zealand; the medieval Irish warriors and Greek Spartan warriors, etc.) have been known to have worn dreadlocks throughout history.
Nowadays, dreadlocks continue to cross racial borders. A quick Google image search will show that Africans/African-Americans, Caucasians, South Asians, Asians, and so on choose to rock this so-called hair style present day. The method used to form dreadlocks will vary depending on the texture of your hair, but the end result is usually the same – twisted/matted ropes of hair. Many people now wear them as a style that has little to do with their religious or ethnic background.
Is the term ‘dreadlock’ offensive?
Some lock wearers choose not to call their locks dreadlocks because 1.) It’s too closely associated with the Rastafarian movement and the stereotypes it entails, eg. marijuana usage 2.) They believe that European colonizers created the term as a way to describe a style many native Africans chose to wear their hair. It is believed that they created the term “dreadlocks” to denote something “dreadful” and unappealing.
Then there are lock wearers and lock admirers who avidly believe that the term ‘dreadlocks’ did not originate this way, and that there is no proof to verify that it did.
My view… Dreadlocks (if clean and maintained) are a beautiful, beautiful way of wearing one’s hair. They’re quirky (no two heads of hair or even individual locks are the same), edgy, and for women of colour can denote racial pride, as we still live in an era where chemically straightened hair and straight extensions are the norm.
What say you?
…Do you find the term dreadlocks offensive?
Do you personally like the look of them?