Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Locs or dreads? What do you call them?


A few days ago I got an email from a reader was pissed. I mean, livid! She said that her boyfriend and family members will not stop referring to her 14-month old locs as "dreads" or "dreadlocks". She said she's asked them several times to not call them that. But much to her distaste, them mofos keep calling them "dreads".

She asked me did I think she was overacting. My response?

"Hells no." If something offends you, you have a right to be offended. It's your prerogative and I don't think you should give two snapped beans if someone else gets pissed off at you being offended.

And then she asked me do I get offended by the word "dreads".

My response? No. However, it's not a word that I use in reference to loc'd hair. And for many reasons...the word "dread" just sounds awful.

I dread going to work today.
I dread seeing her face.
I feel dreadful.


It's just an un-pretty word and as a writer and semantics/etymology nerd, I don't like using it. Especially when referring to my hair.

Do I correct others who refer to my locs at "dreads"?

Nope. The term "dreadlocks" has been around for quite some time and so it makes sense for people to use it. I think the word has gone through semantic changes and so it doesn't hold a negative connotation to it as it used to back in the day. That does not mean I will use it but I will not pop off at others who use it either.

But enough about me....do you have a word preference?
Or does it not matter to you?
What do you non-loc'd friends/family members call your hair?

25 comments:

Milaxx said...

Gosh I never gave it a second thought. locs, dreads or dreadlocks it's all good to me.

Cymone InstantLunch said...

I think its a preference thing most definitely. i mean from where i am from, all your hear is dreads, dreads dreads i dont ever recall ppl sayin locs or anything. i dont really mind it. but i do agree, if it offends you, most certainly stand your ground and i can really see how that would offend some ppl...

:]

rmcandlelight said...

It's funny you mention this word "dread". People often wonder what I have in my hair. They want to call them braids but there confused. I tell them I have sisterlocks. They still look confused. When I say locks they say are you talking about dreads? For them to understand I say yes but much smaller. They say oh you have dreads, um no I have sisterlocks. Ugh, I really don't like the word either. Its like saying my hair is dreadful. Rant over :D

NESSessary said...

I personally don't care. I think a lot of us don't realize that the average person just uses the term dread/dreadlocks because that's the culturally accepted term, it's not as if every person on the planet knows what the term means, what the connotation is, if it is even a negative term or not, and so on. So why knock people for using a term that at least to them is just a word to refer to a type of hair style? I just think it's expecting too much, hell some people can't even tell the difference between braids and dreadlocks. And honestly, be it locs, dreads, dreadlocks, it all sounds good to me, I don't think it is worth putting so much emotion into it, but that's just me.

j said...

nothing dreadful about my locs to be :) - i don't correct anyone about it, but i re-state their question/response as simply "locs".

Mrs. Honey Dip said...

I agree with j. I prefer using the word locs but I don't correct people when they say dreads. Like Nessa said it's the culturally accepted term, especially here in the south. But at the same time, I don't want people to associate my hair with something to be disliked since most people don't know the positivity behind the term dreadlock.

WooHoney said...

Um. I prefer locs but I don't correct people who say dreads or dreadlocks. I don't like the word because oneday this super eccentric bit my head off for saying the word. She gave me some spill about dreads being maddy and dirty (vrs. locs being clean)and only white people wearing dreads. I don't know much about all that etiology of dreads stuff personally. I'd take dreads over pigs anyday. My Aunt (just as ignorant as she wanna be. God forgive me for being so honest!)told me I have pigs in my hair.

iRockLocs said...

I don't have locs yet, but recently did the BC. Friends ask me if I'm going to keep it short or what. Ithen go into the fant that I'm going to do locs and I usually get the reaction, "dreads?" or a blank stare and then I use the term "dreads" or "dreadlocks when people aren't wure what I'm talking about. It doesn't really bother me, but like others, I will continue to use "locs" when I describe my hair.

*Coop* said...

I call mine "locs". Dreadlocs don't sound good to me...unless it's coming from Bob Marley's mouth (Buffalo Soldier, dreadlocked Rasta).

PhePhi said...

good ? &, actually, neither bothers me. however, i refer to mine as "locs," "braidlocs" to b more specific. i haven't had anyone refer to them as dreads. i get more of the "is ur hair loc'd or r those twists" questions.

LoveandLocs said...

I only say locs when referring to my hair, but like most, don't correct those who say dreads/dreadlocks. I really believe it comes from a place of not knowing much about the style. Now, if I specifically told someone that I was offended by the term dread and they CONTINUED to say it, I would definitely be upset because that just seems mean and spiteful (or at the very least, inconsiderate).

Glo said...

I say "locs" when I'm referring to my hair and don't really care when others call them "dreads."

Fewer things offend me as I get older. LOL...

Keep it moving. Live your life. Let people have their own hang-ups. Don't allow people to get under your skin so easily.

T'arr.a Lu said...

Funny you posted this. Last night on my way back home, this woman on the train asked me how long have I been growing my "dreads". I said "I've been growing my locs for about a year". So long story short, she wanted to know the process of growing locs and kept saying "dreads". However, I kept saying locs and not once mentioned the word "dreads". Towards the end she got the clue that I wasn't calling my hair dreads and finally said, "Well your locs are gorgeous and I'm going to do more research".

So it's definitely a custom/familiarity thing so I'm not offended by the term. My theory is, if more people are exposed to the term locs, eventually the word "dreads" in reference to hair will disappear....

Kayla said...

I've actually given this thought lately. DREAD sounds like something negative so, even though I'm not loc'd and neither is anyone very close to me, I'm trying to make an effort to call 'em locs. It just sounds better and I can avoid possibly offending someone.

Expanding Beauty said...

I'm on the same wavelength as you on this one. I always refer to my hair as locs or just hair, when people do refer to my hair as dreads it has not been in a negative way, so I let it go but I've noticed since I continously use the words locs in reference to my hair my friends and family have switched over and I don't think they are even aware that they've done that.

ReDwOoD said...

Hey B! Personally I dont use the term "dreads" becuase theres nothing "dreadful" about my hair. Do I get mad if someone calls them dreads? No. But I will give them a little insight on how the word "dreadlocks" came along. ;-)

dewdrop said...

It doesn't really matter to me. I call them both Locs and Dreads. The word 'Dreadlocs' is too long to say in my opinion and my West Indian family will call me "dread" or "rasta" to be silly. Ironically, only loc'd people or NP members understand when I say 'Locs'. Everyone else I know is confused when I say 'Locs' and ask me, "What do you mean, what is that?" so I just say dreads and then they respond with 'Oooohhh'. LOL! :-D

In my opinion I think it's good for me to say 'dreads' every now and then because people say, 'I've never seen such "beautiful" dreads before, just the bob marley kind." (Ignorant I know, but still). I see it as a play on words kind of like nappy versus kinky hair for example. What I do know is that it can make people think about using this word in a more positive context.

Ijele said...

well to me, for some reason I do not like the words: dreads/dreadlocks, i never have called my hair that. Because i love my hair and do not consider it"dreadful". So its weird to me if someone asks me: Do you have dreadlocks? i usually get mistaken to have sisterlocks. but if someone does ask me: are those dreadlocks, knowing me i would probably say:"Yes, these are locks." lol

Tracey said...

I guess I’m in the minority here because I almost always call them dreads, sometimes they are locs. I love my dreads… I colored my dreads… the dreads are down my back… I cut my dreads! I started my dreads at Dreadz N Headz, a really nice shop in Baltimore and I’ve just always called them that. Now, when I talk to other people I tend to compliment their “locs” because I know dreads is a touchy word for some. To me it’s all relative to the person, having dreadlocs and the feeling of dread doesn’t connect to me so I don’t see the term as negative! I can almost always tell who prefers what word, most of the guys I know who have them will always call them dreads

julia said...

locs!

Out here (SF bay area) most people just refer to them as locs.

Bsquared86/Bsquared0408 said...

I like the term "locs" and that's how I refer to them. I like the way it sounds. I like the way it looks. But I don't care what other people call them. If they ask me my preference, I'll tell them.

S. Wilson said...

The word dreadlocks is not offensive to me at all. I use the words locs, dreadlocks, and dreads interchangeably in reference to my 22-month old locs. My dreads make me very happy!

sandra said...

I must admit I prefer using locs instead of dreads or dreadlocks. To me using the word locs signifies a social change in attitude and acceptance toward this style of hair. This, to me, is similar to people graduating from using the more negative sounding names for African Americans, homosexuals, or others. For me it just seems to signify a social consciousness of the negative connotations associated with certain terms and then choosing not to use those terms. That being said, when people refer to my locs as dreads or dreadlocks, my blood doesn't boil and I usually don't tell them otherwise.

intherough said...

Dread has a positive connotation in Rastafarian dialect, and can be used as an adjective, indicating a man who "fears the Lord."[

shantell said...

LOCS and some ppl act like they don't know wat I'm talking bout wen I say that it Burns me up cuz my hair AINT dreadful my hair is beautiful im happy to be nappy