Growing up in the islands, it’s an inevitable fascination. I was born in Trinidad at the tail end of the 70’s, in an era when Rastafarianism had taken firm root. Emperor Haile Selassie I visited Trinidad and Jamaica in 1966, and he came to a Caribbean region that was already ready to crown him their religious leader. I went to a primary school that was surrounded by forest and cocoa trees, and down by the steep river banks behind the school there were Rastas who had a peaceful way of life and their hair was their crowning glory. I grew up aware and respectful of the significance of locs—for many who wear them, it’s about more than just hair. For many there is deep spiritual and personal significance in the act of growing and maintaining locs.
It wasn’t until I moved to America that I learned that not everyone embraced the term “dreadlocks”—in the islands, that was a common and embraced term. The experts I encountered in the US taught me that not everyone who rocks locs are doing it out of religious belief, and the prefix “dread” can offend. I learned that locs mean different things to everyone who wears them, and for some people it truly is just a style. But because of the lens I grew up seeing them through, I will always see locs as something deeper, more meaningful and personal.
I love locs. To me, a man or woman with beautifully maintained locs is regal and strong. To me, the act of growing locs demonstrates patience and care and commitment and power. It is a beautiful thing. Someday, I can see myself rocking them. For now, I just want my bellas and fellas with locs to know that you’re beautiful and you inspire others just with your regal presence.
Afrobella was the natural hair blogger at AOL’s Black Voices and a writer for Vogue Italia’s Vogue Black website. She has also presented keynotes at several major media expos and seminars.