There's Nothing 'Dread'ful About Our Hair
Written by Joedy Barnes
November 1, 2021
My daughter, as I suspect is the case with many young girls, likes to play with dolls. It was a goal of my wife and I to ensure that my daughter always had dolls that looked like her. We avoided the stereotypical Barbie Dolls and focused on giving our daughter “real” dolls. The slim waist, makeup wearing, long relaxed hair typically found on dolls was not our daughter. She has a healthy size. She has had a mother and grandmothers that never wore makeup. And, from her mother and grandmothers, had zero women in her life that had relaxed hair.
My wife actually began her natural hair journey after our son was born. Our children have always been around natural hair. With that, they have been around the struggles that natural hair brings. My daughter has sported braids, twist, an afro, sister locks, and now locs. Notice that I did not write “dreadlocks.” “Dread” is the root word of “dreadlocks.” Using “dread” as an adjective means “to greatly fear.” Breaking the word down: to greatly fear locs. Why is a hair style greatly feared when it is predominantly worn on the heads of Blacks and African Americans?
The story of Goldilocks and The Three Bears dates back to the 1820’s. The hairstyle known as “locks” dates back even further. Having “locks” or “locs” was a popular hairstyle of the time. Defining the hairstyle as “dread” was used to describe it when seen on Blacks and African Americans. My wife and I have taught my son self-love. We have most definitely taught self-love to our daughter. There is absolutely nothing dreadful about our hair. There is nothing dreadful about any young girl or boy’s hair.
There is power in naming things a certain way. When it comes to how I address my future Black men and women, I refuse to address them with a style or name that means “to greatly fear.” I am not afraid, I am not ashamed, and I will address them with the respect and admiration their “locs” deserve. There is nothing to dread about our hair.