By Rebecca Drew
THIS MUM has been accused of NEGLECT, ABUSE and CULTURAL APPROPRIATION for letting her THREE-YEAR-OLD daughter have dreadlocks – but the toddler is now an INSTAGRAM SENSATION.
Karaoke MC and mum of three, Kristin Miller (34) from Maui, Hawaii, USA, used to find her thin hair difficult to style and having always admired dreadlocks for their beauty, she decided to lock her own hair two and a half years ago.
Kristin’s daughter, Loretta (3) hated having her hair brushed and found the experience traumatic and painful as her active outdoor lifestyle of rambling through mountains and bodyboarding meant her hair was constantly in knots.
After seeing Kristin’s dreads form, Loretta, who was two at the time, was in awe and Kristin let her make the decision to stop hair brushing and have dreads of her own. Since then Loretta has never been happier and she’s in love with her new faff-free hair which doesn’t interfere with any of her favourite activities.
Kristin decided to share Loretta’s hair journey on Instagram under the handle, @dreadyloretty, to normalise children with dreads. She has amassed a whopping 11.8K followers, who follow Loretta for hair inspiration on the social media platform.
Whilst she’s received a lot of support on Instagram for letting Loretta follow her heart, Kristin has also been accused of neglect, abuse and even cultural appropriation from trolls who don’t think Loretta should be able to choose her hairstyle.
Adorable pictures show Loretta rocking her amazing dreads on the beach, with her brothers, Julian and Wyatt, in the garden and at the park. Kristin wants to encourage other parents to listen to their young children and to allow them to let their children express their own individuality.
“I always thought dreads were beautiful and my hair was very thin, hard to style and always worn up, so dreads seemed like a good idea,” said Kristin.
“I was not surprised at Loretta’s interest in dreads. She was always touching mine and saying, ‘Deez your dweads?’
“She would cry when I would suggest it was time to brush. She would throw the brush, cry for her brother to hold her hand. I was trying to be gentle. I even used a detangler. She wasn’t having it. I gave her the choice and at two she vocalised, ‘I keep da dweads.’
“Loretta is a very smart little girl and as a two-year-old was very clear in dictating her desires to opt out of brushing and embrace her already naturally forming dreadlocks.
“Loretta loves her carefree hair. She was never into me styling her hair or wearing little headbands. She lives on a mountain and spends weekends at the beach. She is always on the go. Dreads work for her.
“I had seen many journeys shared [on Instagram]. Loretta’s was special. I knew there was some stigma attached and wanted to help normalise ‘kids with dreads’. Wanted to show it was just a part of her life and how she lived it.
“The reaction is not always positive; some people have accused me of neglect, abuse, and cultural appropriation. Everyone is entitled to their opinion I suppose and not everyone will be convinced one way or the other. It’s not about them. It’s about what Loretta wants.
“I also let her dress herself in what she chooses. Sometimes the close are right out of the big brother hand-me-down pile. Children should be forming and discovering their own identities as early as they desire.”
Kristin has even created a Kindle children’s book, Dready-Loretty: No Time to Brush, which was inspired by Loretta’s own spirted choice to have dreads, about a little girl who loves adventures but can’t find the time to brush her hair.
Kristin washes Loretta’s hair once or twice a week with a special eco-friendly dread shampoo and hopes that through sharing Loretta’s incredible story, she’ll be able to promote dread acceptance, positivity and the different reasons why someone has dreads.
“I think parents should listen to their small children. Be open minded. Ask themselves, ‘Why not?’ Don’t push your own anxiety and fear of judgment on your children. They will have plenty of that as an adult,” said Kristin.
“Let their natural desire to be an individual come out if they so choose, kids aren’t trying to stand out and be different, they are trying to be themselves.
“I love to write and rhyme, I wanted something for Loretta to look back on and remember her dread journey and that’s where the idea of the book came from. I wanted other parents to see her decision was not a philosophical one but a practical one. I wanted to promote dread acceptance and understanding.
“It’s important to remember people choose to have dreads for many reasons; religious, culture, or love of the style. I think dreads are one of those things that help us practise respect, love, and understanding for things or people we don’t necessarily understand.
“Always keep an open heart and mind for your earthly brothers and sisters. We are all in this together.”
For more information see www.instagram.com/dreadyloretty