1.When did you decide to get dreads?
I remember wanting dreads in high school because I thought they were so cool and unique. I would do temporary dreads sometimes just for fun. I never knew much about them other than the myths that most people think about dreads such as they are smelly and aren’t supposed to be washed (which is not true). So I never thought it was practical to get them. But then I met this girl who had them and she pulled them off so well. A few years into college I finally decided to do some research about them because I was sick of my boring, straight hair. I researched them for months before I got them. Then during winter break it took me about 4-5 days to do my first pair of dreads. After a few months with those, I took them out and redid them into the dreads I have now which I’ve had for over a year now.
2.Were friends and family judgmental about you getting dreads?
My friends (and boyfriend at the time) were all very supportive of me because they thought dreads were equally as cool. My family, however, was a little more judgmental. My parents are pretty traditional so they have unapproved of some of my actions over the years such as my gauges and tattoos. My dad didn’t care as much as my mom because he knew I could comb my dreads out whenever I wanted to, unlike my tattoos which are permanent. My mom hated them more than my tattoos or gauges. She thought it looked dirty and told me I was prettier with my normal hair. But I wasn’t concerned about looking traditionally pretty. I would rather be unique. Since then, though, she’s come around a little. The look on her face when people tell her I can really pull off dreads is a mixture of pride and confusion. I think it’s actually helped my parents become more open-minded about appearances.
3.How did you overcome the judgment from others?
I’ve never really cared what people thought of me. So when I heard judgment from others, it wouldn’t faze me since I know everyone has different opinions and that’s okay. The only thing that matters is that I like them. And half of the judgment I received was based on ignorance and assumptions. People were also critical of them when they were babies because they didn’t look like the mature dreads everyone thinks dreadlocks are supposed to look like. I have since proved that dreadlocks are all about patience, and they will continuously be changing.
4.Do you think having dreads is a lifestyle or a trend?
I think most people who have dreads will agree it’s a lifestyle. Some people get temporary dreads or fake dreads because it’s just a trend to them. But to the people who take dreads seriously and do them the natural way, it’s definitely a lifestyle. Because all of a sudden you’re outside of society’s cookie-cutter appearance and you have to be prepared to hold your head high and be proud of your dreads and your lifestyle. It has definitely taught me how to be patient, how to love myself, and how to brush people’s comments and negativity off my shoulders because no one’s approval is needed except mine. I have never felt more like myself than I have with my dreads; I genuinely feel like they are an expression of my soul.
5.How long do you plan to keep your dreads?
I get this question a lot and I never know how to answer it. Let’s just say I would love to be that old grandma with long, gray dreads. But the future is never certain and I could wake up one day a completely different person and decide dreads just aren’t for me anymore. I can’t see that happening but you never know.
6. Any advice for others that may want to get dreads?
I think first you should do a lot of research about different methods and how you want to upkeep your dreads. I personally don’t do much maintenance on my dreads besides palm rolling them after I wash them once a week. Some people crochet hook the loops and the roots. All dreads are personal and there are so many different ways to deal with them, so figure out what’s best for your hair type and your lifestyle. I definitely recommend doing them the natural way though. Don’t use any wax or gel or anything to get your hair to stick together because those aren’t dreads, that’s just hair that is stuck together. Dreadlocks are knotted hair which get more and more knotted over time, aka they mature with time. With natural dreads, too, you are able to comb them out because there isn’t gunk in your hair – it’s just knots. That’s why it’s all about patience and acceptance. Your dreads aren’t going to look how you want them too right away, and that’s okay. My dreads have changed so much over the past year and, it’s been hard, but I’ve tried to love every stage of my dreads.
7. Myths about dreads:
I love proving people wrong about dreadlocks. It’s funny when people try to lecture me about dreads when they don’t know anything about them except what society has taught them.
-You get dreads by not washing your hair-
This couldn’t be further from the truth. Some people can get dreads this way if they have really nappy hair, but for most people this will not help you get dreads. Washing your hair/dreads is actually good for them because unclean hair doesn’t knot together very well, and washing dreads helps them to tighten and lock up. Don’t wash too often though because dreads take longer to dry than normal hair, and if your dreads never dry completely and are always wet then that’s how mildew/mold grows.
-Dreads smell bad-
Some dreads do, but if you take care of them correctly (do research!!!!) then they don’t have to smell bad. If you don’t wash them, then yes, of course, they will start smelling. Also if you don’t use the correct hair products then you can get residue build-up which leads to mildew and mold which will smell horrendous. This is another reason not to use wax for dreads because wax basically IS residue. So to avoid this, use only natural, organic residue-free shampoo. This is where research comes in because some shampoos claim to be residue-free, but I’ve personally used a product that was supposed to be for dreadlocks and after a year I had residue and had to do a deep clean. So it’s really about trial-and-error. Just make sure you know how to recognize when there is residue in your hair so you can deep cleanse your dreads and switch shampoos. I also try to avoid spraying my hair with anything that isn’t natural and/or organic. Spraying essential oils diffused in water on dreads is a great way to keep dreads smelling nice.
-You have to shave your head to get rid of dreads-
From what I’ve gathered, you only have to do that if you use wax or gel in your dreads. As far as I know, you can comb out natural dreads at any stage. It just takes a lot of conditioner and the right comb.
Check out Alexa’s social media sites.
Twitter & Instagram: alexa_hopson
Youtube (2): Raki Zillah & Just Be