Dreads or Locs Do These Words Matter?


[photo source]

Oh boy do I have a unique conversation for you all. As you know my hair is currently in yarn twist that come off looking as dreads. I was visiting my friend and her sister says your hair is very pretty it looks like locs. I replied “thank you a lot of people are mistaking them for dreads”. She replies, “you’re not supposed to call them dreads”. I of course ask why. She goes on to tell me that when she was in Washington D.C. visiting a friend in college, the friend she was visiting had a lot of friends that wore their hair in dreads. When she told them that she liked their “dreads” the women stated that they were not wearing dreads but locs … why??? The group of women explained to her that they don’t “dread” wearing their hair like it is. I pretty much said okay…

Here we go with politics when it comes to hair. To me the words “dreads” or “locs” don’t offend me at all, maybe it might bother others but the word “loc” can even have an underlying meaning as well couldn’t it? So why should it even matter? It’s just hair it’s like my grandma use to tell me “theirs always something behind something in this world”.

Would you be offended by the words “dreads” or “locs”?

Take the poll or comment and leave your opinion.

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12 thoughts on “Dreads or Locs Do These Words Matter?

  1. I’ve actually had the same conversation with someone, that I am supposed to say locs and not dreads. So I pretty much just stick to saying locs, but it’s not ahuge deal for me.

  2. Dreads vs. locs– there is a difference in connotation. As Faith stated, when Europeans exploring the continent of Africa encountered the naturally matted and long twisted coils worn some tribes, they were taken aback. I can just imagine the shock as they exclaimed to one another, “By God, Sir Wentworth, I cannot describe to you the horrid, dreadful locks upon their savage heads!”

    I do not use the term dreads, and do not care for others to describe my locs in such fashion. I don’t know how anyone else feels, but there is NOTHING dreadful about my hair.

    • Yes I agree with both you and faith. When looking at the history behind the word “dreads” I can totally understand why someone would be offended. Like I stated to Faith I was unaware to the history behind the hair/word “dreads”. It’s very interesting to read other opinions on this subject. Thank you for commenting and sharing your thoughts!

  3. I never thought about this word until a couple of years ago when I started trying to learn more about natural hair. I read or heard somewhere that people (whites) called them dreadful locs, giving them a negative connotation. So I guess the argument went that we should call them locs and not dreads b/c they are not dreadful, a speaking out against badmouthing a cultural thing. I’m not personally sure myself. After reading that, I tried to start just calling them locs, but that’s because I didn’t want to offend anyone. Don’t know how to feel about them myself.

    • I see what you mean and I actually never knew the reasoning behind it. Now I can see why the women wouldn’t want them to be called dreads. It personally still wouldn’t bother me but what I think is so sad is the fact that people bad mouth dreads (culturally). Thanks for your insight it brought a lot to perspective and now I have a better understanding of why someone would be upset.

    • wow! dreadful. For me personally, i know growing up in jamaica when rastafarianism just came out, it was looked down on and dreads were not liked. my mom told me that the police would arrest them and shave off their locs. it only got accepted after bob marley got big. but before then, locs was apart of their religion (this is based off of what a rastafarian friend told me). however, despite locs becoming a popular as style and is accepted, it is still looked down on. im not too sure about in the states but i know speaking from a caribean perspective, my family would NOT be pleased if i came home with locs. but hearing this perspective on the word ‘dread’ is interesting to me. i remember growing up and asking my mom why the rasta’s hair was called dreadlocks and she replied to me: when they dont comb their, it loc’s up. i understood but didnt realise that it didnt explain the dreads part lol! i think this whole issue started from back when dreads was used as a form of rebellion from the standard way of life and hence why people might not want to call it dreads. who knows

      • I would have never thought that locs would be looked down in Jamaica seeing that they were very popular in that particular location. I do know that they are part of the rastafarian religion as far as I know.

        • naw, they only got popular recently with america seeing it as a style. if you had dreads you were rastafarian. it wasn’t a style option. because dreads was apart of their religion, if you had dreads then you were a rasta. now, you have to ask because it is a style option from some people. but because it is still strongly associated with rastas, some people look down on it. a teacher at my school – her mom hates her locs and shes from the caribbean. some people will say get with the time, but some people will say know the history of it.

  4. I’m from Jamaica where there were plenty of rastas around. we called their hair dread locs. sometimes we would call it dreads for short. and if you wanted that style, you would say you wanted to loc’s your hair. but it is still the same hairstyle! however, i remembered growing up when sister locs came out, that people told me there was a difference – dreads was the one that the rastas had, where if you didn’t come your hair and it grow all matted. and locs was wen you styled it like that – like the sister locs. i dont know if thats where the women your friend was talking about came from but honestly, there is no need for debate. when you say either name, the same picture of locs comes to mind. sigh….its just like the debate that natural hair is kinky hair and not curly hair that i read over on BGLH. you can read it here if you haven’t
    http://bglhonline.com/2010/11/a-justifiable-bitterness/

    • I agree their really is no need for debate and find the words “locs” and “dreads” to be the same also. But from what I was told the women felt as if their was some rooted meaning / politics to the word dreads. I’m going to take a look at the you linked.

      Thanks for commenting.

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