Shade Bio

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Why I Decided to Dread My Hair

Why I Decided to Dread My Hair
 (Image from Diva Dreads.com)

Hello my gorgeous Otherbeasts! I thought I would write a little about the WHY behind my decision to dread my hair, for informative purposes and for helping others out on their journey as well. I hope you find it inspiring and heartwarming.

After literally five (5) years of thinking about doing it, (See: My dreading journey Part One) I decided to take the plunge. It was something that just felt right. I felt it in my heart and in my spirit.

I had just turned 29 so my Tertiary reasoning was, "If it doesn't work out or I look goofy and have to shave my head then I can blame it on still being in my twenties." Yes, I know it was a silly reason but that was my back up plan. But let me stop you right there because I feel like it's disinformation. You see, you don't have to shave your head if you decide you don't like your dreads (especially if you're a female and a bit worried about that like I was) I repeat: If you do not like your dreadlocks you do not have to shave them off. With enough patience you can comb out dreadlocks, whether your dreadlocks are 2 weeks old, 2 years old, or 20 years old. This is a bit of a comfort, I feel.

Let me tell you about my Secondary reason for deciding to dreadlock my hair. I have Native American blood flowing through my veins, mostly Coahuiltecan and Aztec. Well, I really wanted to tap in and pay homage to my native american ancestry; I like feeling like a wild woman, tapped into the land and to nature, tribal, feral maybe, and dreads make me feel sexy and untamed. My totem animal is the horse (trained them for 10+ years) and I have always been very unbridled and un-tame-able since I was knee high to a grasshopper. I sort of refuse to be domesticated or broken, so everything makes sense in my own little universe of self-thought as to why I wanted dreads.

The Primary reason for getting dreadlocks however was altogether a different story. It was time for a life change. I had fallen into a rut of unhealthy eating, unhealthy habits, and general unwellness. You see, I've been a smoker since college; sure I thought it was cool then but 10 years later and I'm still smoking? Not good. Well, okay, it wasn't so much that I thought it was cool rather than it was as a crutch I used because that first freshman semester was stressful: 18 credit hours, starting a community service sorority, etc. I made Dean's List but I had picked up a nasty habit... and here we are, 10 years later, and I still have the disgusting habit. I am SICK of being a smoker. I have quit seventeen times, but I have started 18 times.

Part of this Primary Change is also a different avenue of health: I yearn to be active and healthy. You see I realized something: this is the only body I get in this life. I don't get to exchange it for a new one if something goes wrong - this body has to last me another 50 or 60 years - and at the rate I'm going it's not gonna hold up. I'm not obese - not by a long shot - but I am overweight. This is not an "I want to be skinny reason," this is an, "I want to be healthy," motivation.

Back in 2008 I was diagnosed with "Convulsions by History," which is a nice way of saying, "Seizure Disorder." Right around then I because overly motivated to be healthy because I believed my diet and my habits were causing the seizures and so I eliminated any culprits that I suspected from my diet - I cut out sodas, sugar, milk, bread, and anything processed. I ate only lean meat, fruits, and vegetables. As a serendipitous result I wound up losing weight and I was happy. But no matter what I cut from my diet, the seizures didn't stop. There was no choice but medication and because there is no cure because they cannot find a cause,  I was stuck taking medication for the rest of my life (I am still on seizure medication).

In 2011, after three years of being on medication and sticking to a very strict diet, without seeing any improvement in the declination of the seizure activity since I was still having auras on almost a daily basis, I realized that this would be my life forever, I became very depressed and sedentary. I stopped caring what I put into my body. I had quit smoking but I started again. My depression had clawed it's talons deep into my soul and wasn't letting go. I even considered suicide at one point but I'm too much of a coward for that - plus I'm a Christian and that's kind of a no-no - but I digress, depression gave way to apathy. I believe I was grieving and going through DABDA: Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, and Acceptance.

Well, come now, 2012, I have reached Acceptance. Sure, I may be on medication the rest of my life but I only get one life. This isn't Mario Bros. I don't have an extra guy in case I die. I'm not going to respawn somewhere else. This is my life. That is where the dreadlocks come in. Having dreads in your hair forces you to be patient, it forces you to accept things how they are while trying to resist the temptation to fix every little thing. Dreadlocks for me are my constant reminder that no matter what I do to them, they're still dreadlocks. They are teaching my patience, teaching me acceptance, and teaching me a lot about inner beauty.

My dreadlocks are a symbol of my commitment to wellness and then another commitment to fitness. Now dreadlocks are not for the feint of heart; there are naysayers, social stigmas, employment issues, etc. They also drive me absolutely insane at times because I try to control them but they just cannot be controlled. My dreadlocks get all fuzzy and I'm tempted to take shears to them to minimize the fuzziness (which I did at one point, and guess what... a week later the fuzzies were back). My dreadlocks are a reminder that things are the way they are, and while it might change a little, I have to be patient to see that change. What I CAN do in the meantime is love them, decorate them, play with them, wash them, style them, and take care of them... but I cannot change them, they will always be dreadlocks until I decide that they should be something else.

The moral of the story is this: I decided to dread my hair in order to learn how to love myself. I did it to learn patience, to learn to let it go, to stop needing to be in control, to just sit back and accept them. They have taught me to love myself and accept myself for who I am; just like my dreadlocks, I am not perfect, but I am still beautiful. They are a statement of change: they are dreadlocks but I can do small changes to improve their disposition. They are a statement of health: the more you leave them be and let them go naturally the healthier they are - so, the more natural I become, as in eating correctly, lean meats, fruits, veggies, the healthier I will become. They are a statement of fitness: natural dreads are strong, stronger than kevlar; hundreds of stands of keratin making one single dread, they're almost bulletproof:

"Hair as a Lifesaver: Human hair can actually guard against bullets and arrows. Although Kevlar is now used in protective vests, Dr. Frédéric Leroy of the London Museum of Natural History claims that human hair is, pound for pound, about as strong as Kevlar. In April of 2009, a Missouri woman reported to My Fox News that her weave saved her life. After an attacker shot a would-be fatal bullet, the bullet bounced off of her fake hair, making a weave (or fake hair attached to human hair) essentially become a lifesaver." Citation Site: EHow.com

All of those reasons and more are why I decided to dread my hair. My dreadlocks are saving my life. 

Until Next Time,
<3 Shade

My Etsy Shop (Wings and Things by D&D Studios) is full of Handmade Dreadlock Beads and Cuffs! Made by a Dreadie for Dreadies. <3

See My Other Blog Posts About Dreadlocks:
  • Why I Decided to Dread My Hair


  1. I love this. I think of dreads all the time... I am 47. Your blog has given me a fresh perspective on the interpreting dreads.
    Thank you.
    peace <3

    1. Yvonne, you're so welcome! Dreads have no age restriction! <3 Shade

  2. this made me change my mind about dreading my hair. cool!

  3. Lol I don't have dreads yet , that's the next step for now its just cornrows. Its shocking though how exactly I can relate to you , a complete stranger , awesome post.

    Much peace and love...

    1. Omar, the internet sometimes pretty awesome in the way it can connect total strangers. :) Thanks so much for reading and weighing in. Namaste.
      <3 Shade

  4. Thank u. I know exactly how u feel. My dreads are about ten months old now and u love them fr many of the same reasons. And keep fighting to quit smoking. It held me fr nine yrs before i finally let go. U can read more at my blog also rantsofasinnersaved.blogspot.com keep positive and God bless!

  5. Hi,

    I just stumbled across your blog and feel compelled to write to you. I understand and empathize unbelievably with you situation. I have suffered for 10 years with auras and migraines. Sometimes i would have 2/3 in a day for upto 2 weeks. IN Jan 2013 The doctors wanted to put me on betablockers and epileptic medication for the rest of my life, because they dont understand whats going wrong, but something inside me just shouted no. As a shiatsu therapist i know that the energetics of seizures/migraines/strokes are very similar.
    After this i got in contact with me mentor and had 6 weeks of shiatsu which broke the cycle of aura migraine aura migraine. She then sent me on an 8 week mindfulness meditation course and during this time my migraine were SIGNIFICANTLY reduced. This course also gave me the tools i needed to get past the dark, depressive thoughts that comes with such debilitating conditions. Since then i have also started a more regular yoga practise and when i dont do yoga or meditate for a while the migraines creep up on me.
    Whenever i would have migraines it would always be a string of them. But one night i have one the day before an acupuncture appointment and it broke the cycle, i only had one! not a week or so of them.

    I hope that i havent rambeled too much but my point is that its a year on and i am not on ANY preventative daily meds.
    I really have faith in Mindfulness Meditation, Acupuncture, Shiatsu & Yoga (in that order), I know they work for me and i really hope they can benefit you, coz ike i said, migraines and seizures and sooooooo similar.
    Good luck!

    Jen xxx

    Ps.... I had my dread done on 31st Dec2013, it happened completely randomly. but i know its not a coincadence, they are here to help me in my new life without so much pain and suffering :) xx

  6. Thank you for your beautiful post. I relate to your feelings about your dreads and why you have them. I haven't been able to put it into those words exactly and I appreciate your doing so. Love and light.

  7. You have nailed my feeling exactly on my dread journey. I recently just had a child and gained 70 pounds and became very unhealthy. I recently decided to dread my hair as the start of my getting healthy goal! I loved reading this, it was just the push I needed, thank you!

  8. YES!!! You stated exactly how I feel about my dreading transition. I have not been able to fully express what I was thinking when I did get my hair locked up. I have been so attracted to dreadlocks and wanted to put my hair in them for at least 10 years. I waited because of fear of what people would think. I don't care what they think now, and in fact, I think they think my dreads are awesome. (Especially at my age of 57, which I also feared was too dang old to do this) I am a midwife, and have been serving families for the last 29 years. I only attend births in home or at my freestanding birth center. This has been a very rewarding and fulfilling calling, but I feel it is no longer sustainable for my body and spirit. I also am a Christian, and know of many Christian ladies who have dreadlocks. But none my age. I decided to get my hair locked up by a gal who does it for a living. She is very good and I have found many references for her and her ability. Ever since I did this, my whole life has been undergoing a big transition. I have decided to bid a fond farewell to midwifery. I am going to be moving into a new much more wholesome and sustainable life. We have a 22 acre farm that has been vastly underused. We have a very large garden at this time, and have been raising chickens for eggs, and Scottish Highland Cattle for beef. As of the beginning of 2016, we will be farming this property full time. My husband and I are so excited for this transition. We are planning to continue to provide eggs and veggies but on a much larger scale, Plus we will add goats for milking and meat. Subtract the cattle, and start working at farmer's markets, sell from the farm and maybe even have a CSA eventually. Your words about having patience while the dreads mature, it excellent advice. I too, am overweight. I blame it on midwifery and the high cortisol levels that I constantly live with. The bad eating habits that I have become accustomed to and the total screwed up sleeping schedules. So.....I am reminded each time I look at my hair, patience, eating right, sleeping right, exercise...yoga and gardening/farming, and that as my dreads transition right along with my life, I will treat it all with patience and will see the goals realized. I have gained 60 pounds in the last 20 years. I would love to see them shed in the next 2 or 3 years. So when my dreads are mature and beautiful, I will also have a much more healthy and fit body. I will continue to pray and worship, using many moments in every day for that....I am super happy to have found you blog.....thank you so much. Oh and I have only had my dreads for 10 weeks.....super baby dreads...and going through the same stuff you talk about here. My husband says that I need a dread lock support group....truth!!!! Thank you for being just that!!!

  9. Wow!!! This is amazing tips for losing weight.
    It is as good as the previous site which i follow
    to lose my weight. Anyone can follow it.

  10. How does getting dreads represent being wild and feral? That’s a real flippin insult to the ones of us who live traditional everyday. And the ones, like my grandparents, who live even more traditional. The ones who do go out and fast in the woods for days. Who dance in a traditional way to honor and preserve our traditions. Practice the ways, not just our relation to our clan or totem and who that makes us. Geez ya. That was awful to read. Not poetic, not cute. It’s a poor choice of words as a result of your being so intertwined and raised in the white culture. It makes you feel like you are closer to yourself and that’s why you have dreads amongst other things. Like anyone who feels like they need to belong to something... I understand. I couldn’t imagine being raised any other way. It also is painful to know your people are almost extinct and much of our ways have gone with it. For 500 years we have been fighting to keep what we do know alive! Just in the last century they stripped our children.. my great grandparents...of anything left. Made it a “sin” to speak our old language and only did it in front of my father and his siblings if they had to hide what they were saying. They were Catholic at that point. My maternal grandfather speaks the language and has kept us in our ways. The best he could. So it’s up to us to go find others and build upon that. Which there are ceremonies we can go to etc. use of better words would’ve made your message just as clear if you weren’t speaking to and from that colonial perspective. I think that your poor choice of words really is sad. An ignorance. I feel bad for you in doing so. I’m sorry for your health conditions and will pray for you ✌��