The politics of dreadlocks

Dreadlocks have been a stigmatised hairstyle for a very long time in most societies. Those that insisted on this kind of hairstyle were mainly considered to be unruly and sometimes weed smokers. 

Dreadlocks have been a stigmatised hairstyle for a very long time in most societies. Those that insisted on this kind of hairstyle were mainly considered to be unruly and sometimes weed smokers. 

People into this hairstyle generally see it as a powerful way to spread open minded attitudes, to promote a life philosophy that leaves the world cooler than they found it. That sounds like a very tall order for a hairstyle but as you read on, you’ll realize that dreadlocks seem to be a little more than a hairstyle.

Dreads are all about accountability. Bottom line being that, if you decide to get dreadlocks, you need to be prepared to be accountable for your actions. You and your actions will now be remembered like never before. 

I always thought I had a very good memory for faces until I decided to join the ranks of the dread men. Suddenly, people I had barely said hi to now knew and remembered me. Many of them I hadn’t actually spoken to, but they still remembered me, and that is precisely the point. If you have dreadlocks you don’t need to speak to leave a lasting impression on people you come in contact with. At least I didn’t have to. 

This can be good or bad depending on your lifestyle. If you are good to people they will remember your kindness and life will be good. If you are bitter and hateful, people will remember it and you will notice yourself encountering more and more negativity. In other words you will be held accountable for what you do. This scares people that are not in the habit of taking responsibility for themselves and they generally don’t keep their dreads very long. In other words, my dreadlocks had to go.

On the other hand it’s great to be remembered for your kindness and be rewarded for it.

It’s easy enough to forget someone that does you a small favour like holding a door but dreadlocks leave a longer impression. What impression you leave is entirely up to you. 

Right now, more and more people are choosing to go natural and taking up dreadlocks as their choice of hairstyle. Why many have chosen this path can’t be pinned to one reason. Being natural is simply healthier, cheaper, offers flexibility and freedom to especially women that could never walk under the rain with the hair relaxers or treated hair. 

And yes, dreadlocks have been known to help “dreadmen” attract a decent crowd of female admirers and as one lady puts it, “we all know that locked brothers are hot!”

Considering more people are taking up dreadlocks as the hairstyle of choice means that more professionals are also included in the group that is going natural. What this means is that dreadlocks are no longer the exclusive monopoly of street hustlers and rastas and upcoming clowns and musicians. 

Now that increasingly more professionals are free to sport hair locks, how does this influence their professional outlook?

Should one’s hairstyle have any influence on their professional career? I personally don’t think so. But hundreds of people, especially men sporting locks, find themselves between a rock and a hard place when it comes to the subject of finding a job or keeping their locks.

I’ve heard of men who had to cut their locks before they could apply for, let alone start the job they wanted.

A story is told of a lady who devised one of the cleverest solutions around this problem. This lady went to the interview in a wig and after she got the job, reported to work with her dreadlocks the following morning. It was too late for the boss to sack her. So, how do you as a professional get to enjoy sporting your locks and keeping the job? 

Keep them neat and clean

Regardless of which method you choose to maintain your locks, a professional worker should be clean from head to toe.

This has been a traditional source of tension as some people have the misconception that to have locks they have to be unwashed to be original. This misconception easily comes to light in such remarks as, “Hey ...your hair is so beautiful and clean, no one would think you got locks” ever directed at dreaded people. Keep them clean and no one will care if they are locks or a wig.

Have them in a decent style

Who says that dreadlocks and decency can’t live in perfect harmony?

Some dread styles are not for the office so keep them out at all costs. Most stylists generally do a great job with locks, but some of those styles are only meant for the Lil Waynes and Lucky Dubes of this world. 

Dress the part

Your outfit should complement your locks and also make your clients comfortable in your presence. Make sure your suit or T-shirt is clean and well pressed.

Stay professional

Do your jobs twice as well as you should. Yes, sometimes you have to prove yourself. Do your assignment better than expected, finish it on time and always get to the office on time. The point is to ward off any pre-conceived negative attitudes towards dreadlocked people. 

And do remember, in the event that a random mobile phone goes missing around your table at the bar, chances are that the lad sporting threaded hair will be automatically assumed first culprit. Well, I’m not pointing fingers, just forewarning you!

Enjoy your locks

You should keep them neat and clean but don’t forget flexibility and freedom are some of the reasons you chose locks in the first place. Don’t be a bore with your locks. Style them as you would braids or relaxed hair, of course within limits.

Respect the company rules

For example if you work in a bakery you need to wear a hairnet all the time. If you follow this simple rule no one will ever have issues with you. Read your company dress code manual if you have one and follow those rules.

Treat colleagues with respect

Sometimes people have issues with the way you behave towards them, not the dreadlocks on your head. Maybe they have never even noticed them before. So, analyse whether you treat other people well. Even if you don’t like them, respect them.


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