With Sukkot almost here, a mother’s thoughts turn to guests. Guests for meals, Ushpizen for our sukkahs, and the inevitable guests in the hair of our loved ones. Tzippy Levy’s piece on lice made me laugh (and cry, just a little bit), but it also had me questioning why I continue to see such a large proportion of my fellow Israelis sporting the most guest-friendly of hairstyles. So, here is my rundown of the five types of dreads, and what they say about you.

Homeless Dreads

photo © 2013 Terence Lim , Flickr

The foundational dread type is “straight-up homeless”. This person may or may not be homeless at present, but he has either experienced that particular state in the past, or he has no fear of arriving there. This is the hairstyle equivalent of sitting down with your daughter’s boyfriend and telling him you are not afraid to go back to prison.

Nothing beats the corporate dread for irony. When I have started jobs in the past I knew that being introduced to a boss with dreads that are shiny, neat, and even, meant I was going to have a good time. Corporate dreads say “I’m proud of my heritage, but in a non-threatening way!” And by heritage, yes, I mean Blackness. I have not yet seen corporate dreads pulled off successfully by someone who is not of African descent (still searching for that perfect Hebrew term, by the way). The corporate dreadhead is winking at “the man”, while keeping his hand out for the paycheck, preferably a nice fat one.

White people dreads tend to come in two types: unkempt, and overkempt. My husband was wearing unkempt dreads when we first met. He thinks I was listening intently while he described his childhood growing up in suburban Detroit. What I was really doing was studying his dreads for the subtle markings that distinguish unkempt dreads from homeless dreads. Unkempt hair will have been occasionally washed, and should have significantly fewer critters, which the wearer will at least pretend to be unhappy about. Unkempt dreadheads are usually from a nice upper-middle class family, and this is probably the closest they will come to outright rebellion. You didn’t hear the word poser from me, no sir!

Overkempt hair means one thing: product. There is no room for styling gels or gums in dreads. This completely misses the point of having a natural hairstyle. Embrace your wavy or straight hair! Leave the dreads to those of us with curls. Few things make me as sad as the first nine months of a blond  struggling to contain baby fine hair with the contents of her Supa Dupa Dread kit.

Finally, we have the Jewfro dread. This is the Jewish man or woman who has not only gone to India, but also took over running a hostel while there. There is a level of commitment to individuality that surpasses that of the mere unkempt dreadhead, and which has infused into clothing and personal outlook. The true JfroD will evangelize regarding freewill and veganism, at least until his parents stop paying the bills, in which case, he will cut off the dreads and go to medical school. This latter event may be delayed significantly if he is able to find work at a natural foods store or smokeshop.

My husband had dreads for the year that we dated, and I could see how much effort that he put into them, certainly more effort than I put into my own hair, which frankly was a little weird, now that I think back on it. In fact, I am more than a little curious as to how much productivity we lose worldwide to dread maintenance. Still even those who fail are putting forth a worthy effort, and I salute all dread wearers for their dedication, if not for the execution. Just remember to always be on the lookout for unwanted guests.