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Hello Kitchen Salon,

I am doing the natural look. I have been growing out my locks for about 2 years now. I started my locks using the coil twist method.

I’ve noticed when you refer to “locks” you mention various styles of locking hair to include “dreadlocks” as a style. Now me personally, I do not refer to my twist/interlock locks as “dreadlocks”. I refer to them as a style of locked hair just as dreadlocks are a form are locked hair. I’m Jamaican. For most of my early childhood I grew up on Rastafarian values and in a Rastafarian culture. Our hair, which were referred to as dreadlocks, were a form of our spiritual commitment to our faith. Of course that was the past and I no longer follow the Rasta movement.

I would like to know in your opinion are locks, such as the ones you described, a form of “dreadlocks” or are dreadlocks just like the others that you have described by saying they are a form if locking your hair? I believe there is a huge misconception that every form of locked hair is a form of dreadlocks. Could you let me know your thoughts? Is there even an argument to make? Or is this one of those topics that may never have a definitive answer?

Dear Reader,

This is a great question! There is a great misconception of locks! Many people refrain from the term “dreadlocks” because of its reference to African Slaves whose hair matted up [while on slave ships, traveling for months at a time] and was unclean, forming “dreadful” locks of hair. Sometime later, the style was adopted by Rastafarians as a way of life and culture, and they are affectionate with the term dreadlocks.

Today with the massive increase of people going natural, referring to dreadlocks as dreads or simply locs seems most acceptable. Now due to the many different ways locs can be formed, there are many terms: interlocks, bradelocz, nappylocs, nu locks, genie locs, traditional locs, Sisterlocks and Brotherlocks. And with all of these names, people often refer to them as if they are Nike, Reebok or Converse. Sisterlocks are among the elite type of locs for their miniscule size and perfect partings and appearance as long flowing hair. Traditional locs are most often still referred to as “dreads” and are still the most common type of locs worn by individuals.

I think arguments are made when referring to locs because of the connotations with the terms. It seems most respectable to refer to all types/versions of locks as locs instead of dreads or dreadlocks since still today, when people hear the word “dreads” in some way, they think of or perceive that type of hair to be unkempt, unclean and socially unacceptable. I think greater arguments are now made because there are so many versions of hair locking, that some can become offended if you call their Sisterlocks dreads or interlocks, just as some with traditional locs strongly prefer to refer to their hair as dreads, respectively.

For me, there is no argument to be made because the real term for hair locking is simply locks or locs (interchangeable in our culture). Hair that grows out and mattes together, forming rope like strands are locked and thus called locks/locs. On my website, I refer to locs and locs/dreads with respect to all naturals who may choose one term or the other. With so many arguments over being “naturally curly” or having “kinky”, “coily”, or “nappy” hair there are just so many ways Black/Brown people can be divided and/or confused and I don’t want to add to the confusion.

Thank you also, for sharing your experience. Since you have described living as a Rasta, then vacating those beliefs/practices, it has also changed your perception of your own hair. When referring to your own, you call them locks, which to me, is just as respectable as someone who affectionately calls their own hair dreadlocks.

Now, because I have never been a Rasta, nor have I studied that culture or belief system extensively, I cannot delve into the roots of the term and why is was adopted. However, I perceive that in some ways, this was adopted as a tribute to ancestors whose hair matted involuntarily and was deemed dreadful, maybe with some rebellion to it, but moreso as an honor. On the other hand, dreadlocks are as old as ancient history and were worn by Egyptians before Africans or Jamaicans did so, and their locks were seen as sign of status, royalty, power and wealth based on some studies and photographic references…

But I tend to put locks all in one pot[knowing their differences] is by calling them all locs, then whatever terms are preferred by individuals, I give respect to each who adopts a term to their satisfaction.

I hope this answers your questions!
Thank you so much for writing!