Wednesday, 8 April 2015

Writing Hair: Problems with 'White' Dreads

 UPDATE: I've expanded on the biggest problem with 'white' dreads in this post.

 I was going to just put up a ramble about various things that I've been up to lately and dedicate a large part of the ramble to my burning envy of natural African hair (my hair is straight, like the tracks of my tears) but literally as I started this post I realised that there's a really important point I'm going to make and it deserves a post in its own right.

 It's also a point that bears keeping in mind when you're writing.

 The point being:

 It takes a specific kind of white person to get dreads.

 Or at least it used to. Whatever the hell Kylie Jenner thinks she's playing at has somewhat muddied the waters, but I can't see that lasting.

 Why?

 Because dreadlocks look awful on white people and are really bad for straighter and oilier hair types (which includes you, Japan. Don't think I haven't noticed this trend). It won't take long for people who actually care about their physical appearance and the health of their hair to notice that the dreads look dirty, are dirty and are putting completely unnecessary stress on their hair.

 Now, don't misconstrue that, I said they look and are dirty on people with straighter and oilier hair types. I never said that they look or are dirty on black people. Natural African hair and natural European hair (which is our main concern in this post) are two very different animals.

 You can see this just through traditional methods of maintaining and dressing hair.

 Just sixty years ago it wasn't unusual for white women to only wash their hair once every two weeks, and a scant few decades before that, white women would avoid washing their hair for as long as they could. This often meant upwards of a month.

 What did they do instead? They brushed their hair with boar bristle brushes and combed their hair with wooden combs. This evenly distributed the oils down into the length of the hair and allowed it to be conditioned. What they couldn't reach with their natural oils, they supplemented with botanical oils.

 Let me be clear here, they did this every day.

 Hair styles could be left in, but not for more than a few days at a time.

 Contrast this with African hair care which developed the 'protective style'.

 Natural African hair can't handle the same amount of combing and brushing as European hair. Because of the nature of tight kinks and curls the hair is more fragile and needs to be protected from environmental stress. The scalp is also less oily, so brushing the hair everyday wouldn't have the same effect as it does on a European head anyway.

 Protective styles include things like canerows(/cornrows), mini twists, box braids and dreadlocks.

 How long can you leave these in?

 This depends on a number of factors, but with proper upkeep and depending on the style and the individual, somewhere between three weeks and a couple of months.

 Dreadlocks specifically have a potential life of years if properly maintained. I had a hard time finding out about natural African dreadlocks because if you search for information about them on Google then you're going to encounter a lot of white people explaining how to do it on natural European hair.

White People: Ruining everything for everybody.
Always.
 Okay, so what's all this got to do with my opinion that white people with dreadlocks always tend to be the same kind of people?

 Because they are, and that kind of person is a dirty hippie.

 You know the type, organic food, probably vegan, sometimes a raw foodie, goes on about mother nature and the 'chemicals' in everything. Maybe an anti-vaxxer, possibly into new age religions, that kind of person.

 Basically every parent's worst nightmare during the Nixon administration.

 Notice earlier that I said people who actually care about their appearance and the health of their hair. Dirty hippies do not care about their appearance.

 Well, not in the sense that the average square Joe does, you dig? (I know that's more beatnik than hippie, but it'll do.)

 Being a hippie means not conforming to society's standards on things, which includes appearance. Since white society values clean, sleek and styled hair, these people have chosen a hair style that has been considered ugly and 'dirty' by white society and decided to roll with it.

 All without understanding why dreadlocks were considered undesirable in the first place.

 Natural European hair doesn't lock, it mattes. The only way to get European hair to look like dreads is to matte it, so to people who didn't know the difference, dreadlocks would look dirty.

 Yeah, hippies are basically like those early European douches who originally coined the term, they do not know the difference between locked hair and matted hair. All they care about is the artifice, the appearance.

 They want to appear natural and down to earth, so they wear their hair in a way that they think advertises that, despite the fact that natural European hair cared for by traditional methods does not look like that.

 Wanna know what it does look like?

Yeah, that's her own hair. She was famous for it.
You can find information on her haircare here.
 But that's too old fashioned and square.

 So the only thing to do is to appropriate hair dressing techniques developed for a completely different ethnic group.

 So yeah, if you're writing a white character and you're considering giving them dreadlocks, this is the kind of person you're going to make them look like. A pretentious idiot who doesn't understand how their own hair works.

 Since I am attempting to illuminate here, here's a link to a website that has information on the upkeep of natural African hair types, go and research my children and write natural African hair appropriately.

 Please don't just take my word here, you've seen me, I'm clearly not an expert.

7 comments:

  1. I'm Irish-American and have long, naturally wavy/curly hair (no perms, etc.) like the woman in the picture. The only difference is my hair is to my waist, not to my ankles. My hair will tangle underneath and form into extremely tight coils all over from about three inches from the scalp and down if it isn't combed at least twice daily, both morning and evening. After my hair is freshly washed, if I don't blow dry it or braid it immediately while it's still wet, when it dries naturally, it forms into natural twisty coils like tight thin ropes. It's sort of like ringlets, but without the openness of the curl. The twists are very tight and compressed into a "dreadlock like shape". It isn't the same as dreadlocks, though. With my hair, they are smooth coils, and they are a natural feature of my hair type even when my hair is clean. It takes a lot of combing and detangler to get them out. So, it's not just a dirty hippie thing. These twists don't form because my hair is dirty or ill kempt. It naturally takes that shape through movement and texture. I seriously doubt the ancient Celts combed and conditioned their hair as frequently as I do, so I imagine they had a lot of these tight hair coils. When historians mention Celts had "hair like snakes", people automatically think "dreadlocks" because it's easier to picture. But I personally think these smooth tight coils are what the historians actually meant. And no, I'm not talking about heavy swatches of matted hair, which you can find in both poorly kept European and African dreadlocked hair. My coils are not matted, and they do look snakelike in a general sense. My hair just looks tightly twisted. I guess if they were dyed blue with woad, like the ancient Celts were known to do, the twists really would look snakelike. That said, "tight, naturally forming coils" are without a doubt a natural feature of clean European hair. I know they are because I have them.

    Cory

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh good god.

      I'm going to print out a screenshot of this comment and frame it in gilt and gold on my wall, and every time I think that somebody's said something stupid to me, I will look at it and go "Well, it could definitely be worse."

      Delete
  2. Dear Murphy: I get the impression that you are just some really sad person playing videogames alone in the dark. Checked out your site, found this comment:
    Anyway, please check out the channel, especially if you see something that looks interesting, and consider subscribing! I love subscribers! They are my literal favourite people, I love them more than my family.

    So it really is ok if you decided to be some lonely sad dude with niche-hobbies. I played Danganropa myself but your let´s play vids actually scare the shit out of me.

    I really think it´s nice if people take the time to share experiences and try to explain inner motivations, experiences and thoughts about what´s up with things that keep them thinking.
    Your thing might be gaming, some folks might prefer the real world.
    Who are you to judge? Try to get a life, stop bashing other people.
    Thank you!

    ReplyDelete
  3. This generation has had a serious problem of getting grey hair at an early age and it is just increasing. All of this happens becasue of our lifestyle, eating habbits, stress and chemicals in the products we use. Getting your hair dyed is not healthy for your hair and since I am going through the same problem of having grey hair so early I decided to find a safe and healthy solution. I came across Kama Ayurveda's organic henna powder and indigo powder and this combination has saved me! It is the organic way to go and dyes your hair black, I have been using these products for several months now and am so happy. Everyone who is having this same problem, I highly recommend to use such products rather than hair dye.
    http://www.posherry.com/blog/kama-ayurveda-solves-white-hair-problems/

    ReplyDelete
  4. This generation has had a serious problem of getting grey hair at an early age and it is just increasing. All of this happens becasue of our lifestyle, eating habbits, stress and chemicals in the products we use. Getting your hair dyed is not healthy for your hair and since I am going through the same problem of having grey hair so early I decided to find a safe and healthy solution. I came across Kama Ayurveda's organic henna powder and indigo powder and this combination has saved me! It is the organic way to go and dyes your hair black, I have been using these products for several months now and am so happy. Everyone who is having this same problem, I highly recommend to use such products rather than hair dye.
    http://www.posherry.com/blog/kama-ayurveda-solves-white-hair-problems/

    ReplyDelete
  5. This generation has had a serious problem of getting grey hair at an early age and it is just increasing. All of this happens becasue of our lifestyle, eating habbits, stress and chemicals in the products we use. Getting your hair dyed is not healthy for your hair and since I am going through the same problem of having grey hair so early I decided to find a safe and healthy solution. I came across Kama Ayurveda's organic henna powder and indigo powder and this combination has saved me! It is the organic way to go and dyes your hair black, I have been using these products for several months now and am so happy. Everyone who is having this same problem, I highly recommend to use such products rather than hair dye.
    http://www.posherry.com/blog/kama-ayurveda-solves-white-hair-problems/

    ReplyDelete
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    ReplyDelete