Sunday, November 2, 2014

Be True To You: An Exercise in Honouring Your Soul (or What Installing Rainbow Dreads Taught Me)

 This is me now... but I wasn't always quite so happy to be me.

I have been marching to the beat of my own drum for as long as I can remember. It's a practice that I highly recommend to all individuals. Sure, it comes with its own set of hazards and pitfalls but it is exceedingly rewarding if done honestly and openly. And since we're talking about honesty, I must say that the whole going-against-the-current thing was not always my choice. As a younger youngster, whenever I tried to follow the trends of my peers it just. didn't. work.

Yours Truly in Grade 4, trying to convince my curly hair that it was straight.

I was destined to be the black sheep whether I wanted to or not. Feathered bangs? No, I ended up with something akin to cotton balls. Side ponytail? Doesn't happen for a kid with a 4 inch afro who is actively trying to grow her hair longer. But when I managed to talk my mother into buying me a pair of purple suede leather flats to wear with my white First Communion dress, and after she added little purple  roses to the front for some co-ordination, THAT was the moment that I started to see the wonderful world of possibilities that can found when you leave the trends behind. But it was still hard for me to fit in with the kids in my elementary school.

Make your OWN trends, my mother would say.

My rep basketball team- we're all wearing items from my closet

So, finally, I did.

When I went off to high school, I started wearing my Dad's old graphic college tee's. You know, like the ones which have made a major resurgence in stores like, um, all of them, but when I was in high school they could only be found in sketchy second hand stores. I covered my binders in fun fur, used an old electrical supply box as a purse, brought stuffed animals to my sporting events, and even sewed my own unusual Mod Robes knockoffs. Needless to say, I let trend reports fall by the wayside early enough in my socially formative years that I have no problem ignoring them now as an adult.

 Showing off my handmade ModRobes knockoffs at a random building in New York City

So I was surprised by the reactions that I saw and heard from some people when I installed a rainbow array of dreadlocks in my hair.

My day jobs are all customer-service related, so I get to have mini-conversations with lots of different people during my shifts. I'd see children peeking their heads over the top of their booth (one of my jobs is working as a waitress) pointing in my direction whispering "rainbow hair!" in an excited way. I see customers eyes get a little wider when I welcome them and they look up at me and sense they might be in for a bit of different dining experience. I get to enjoy the occasional shout from across a street or from inside a moving car, "Your hair is awesome!". And it's always fun to have a mini-bonding moment with someone else who is equally as adventurous and has brightly coloured hair.

But some of the things that people have uttered hurt my heart just a little; not for me, but for them:
"I'm too old to do something like that to my hair."
"I could never pull off something like that."
"I work in an office."
"My boyfriend/girlfriend wouldn't like it."

That's just your lack of confidence showing. Confidence goes a long way- do what you want to do, hold your head up high, put your shoulders back, look in the mirror and tell yourself you're awesome and keep believing it and you can pull anything off.

It's amazing how committed we are as a society to micromanaging our images and making sure that people perceive us exactly how we want to be perceived, whether that's being true to our own unique natures or not. It's so easy to lose touch with who you are if you are always trying to present something different to the world.

Having these dreads have shown me how many people really want to break out of some sort of social confinement, and they just don't think it's an option for them. Some people don't even realize that they're being inhibited until they have a chat with me about my crazy rainbow hair.

To those of you who may be feeling this way, what are you waiting for? Of all the things that other people might think about you, what YOU think of you is the first and most important opinion out there. Everyone else comes second.

So go out there and find your own rainbow dreadlocks, in whatever form they might appear in your life and wear them proudly without apology.


Frequently Asked Questions:
1) Who did that for you?
- I did it.
2) How long did it take?
- 10 hours of wrapping hair to install them, and about 2 weekends of binge-watching Netflix to make the dreads in advance.
3) How do they stay in?
- My hair is woven through a loop at the top of the dreadlock and then wrapped around in a criss-cross fashion with a little elastic band where my natural hair ends.
4) WHY?
- Because I love rainbows... AND because I wanted to see if I could successfully make my own (synthetic) dreadlocks. It was a craft challenge that I gave myself and whole-heartedly accepted.
5) Can you wash them?
- Yes, just like normal hair, but I get to use much less conditioner.
6) Are they heavy?
- Only during the week while I was getting used to them.

1 comment:

  1. Wonderful! Thank you for being honest about Who. You. Are!