Assumptions

3 02 2012

Ayo recently wondered aloud what I would look like with blond dreadlocks. She thought that they would look good on me, and I thought that I might be able to pull them off. But am I up for it? No. Why not? Because dreads would alienate me from a large portion of society that I prefer to be a part of. They come with stereotypes of laziness, passivity, drug use, and countercultural removedness.

People make assumptions about us all of the time. These assumptions have been most striking when people make conclusions about what we’re not. We’ve had friendly conversations with police officers or neighbors about RVing and they’ve said things like “Oh, I know that you’re not those kinds of RVers, but…”

It’s kind of funny how if I changed the way I looked while changing nothing else about me, I would be perceived so differently by others. Two days ago I spent an hour hanging out with eight fun seniors who are camping about 150′ from us. If I had dreads, I don’t think that I would have received the same reception.

No dreads for me, even if I think that they might look cool.

posted by yair

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4 responses

3 02 2012
Shira

Yes this is SO true, and unfortunately often revolves around silly outward things. Color of hair. Length of hair. Number of piercings. Pants v skirts in Orthodox settings. Motorcycle v car. Even two different colored socks. And a hundred other things. This takes us back to the conversation back in NYC re “gay” appearances. I say it’s all a shame. I’ll love you just the same – “dreaded” or not.

6 02 2012
Yair

Aw, thanks! It certainly is directly related to the conversation we had previously. Sometimes I think that there should be a word for stereotypes that usually ring true, but I think – similar to you – that it would be great if outward choices didn’t have to signal anything particular.

4 02 2012
LiveworkDream

Yeah, it sucks but it’s true. I know of a younger RVer who finally got her hair dreaded, and once she did, she started getting pulled over by cops, for no apparent reason.

Another example is my sister, who raised a son that started hanging out with gangstas and copying their uniform. He started getting pissed that cops were hassling him all the time, and she just told him, “don’t dress like one and people won’t assume you ARE one.” He doesn’t anymore and his life is much better.

I’ve toyed with the idea of dreads but decided not to do it. While I hate to think of myself as playing it safe, I just don’t need those kind of hassles in my life.

6 02 2012
Yair

I’m with you. I, too, don’t like thinking of myself as playing it safe, but there are so many cases where it’s much easier to subscribe to customs and expectations than to stand out.

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