It’s a fine spring day in Arlington, Texas. A young man has turned up for an interview for a job at Six Flags Over Texas. It seems a great place to get some work experience. After all, this isn’t just any amusement park: no, it’s the largest in the whole Dallas-Fort Worth area. But something happens that makes the teenager’s excitement vaporize in a moment.
Kerion Washington is a teenager with big dreams. His hope for the long term is either to forge a career in the fashion industry or become a professional athlete. And he has the looks and physique for it.
Right now, though, the 17-year-old needs some summer work between school years. He’d like to get some job experience and some spending money. For Kerion, this would be his first job.
Things seem to be going well for Kerion, but then the recruiter makes a demand that surprises him. You see, Kerion, like many black men, rocks a special hairstyle. The high-school junior has dreadlocks. But Six Flags apparently does not like the look of them.
In fact, it reportedly considers them an “extreme hairstyle” forbidden by its dress policy. So to get a job, he would need to lop off his locks.
Now Kerion is not the first young black man who’s been knocked back for a job because of his hairstyle. There’s quite the history of discrimination against people of color on this basis. Some pushback is happening, though.
The state of California passed the CROWN Act around the time that Kerion went for the job. It forbids schools and workplaces from discriminating against people who have hairstyles typical of particular ethnicities, including cornrows, dreadlocks, and braids.
Dreadlocks have been around for a very long time. Ethiopian Coptic priests are thought to have been wearing them in 500 B.C. And they weren’t the first: Indian holy men are mentioned as sporting such locks more than a thousand years before that.
The hairstyle may even pre-date them: Egyptians were thought to have rocked dreadlocks way back in the days of the Pharaohs, and perhaps other Africans too, before historical records began.
The style gained popularity in prewar Jamaica, where it was strongly linked with the Rastafarians. Magazine The Smithsonian noted at the time, “Perhaps the most familiar feature of Rastafari culture is the growing and wearing of dreadlocks, uncombed and uncut hair which is allowed to knot and mat into distinctive locks.
Rastafari regard the locks as both a sign of their African identity and a religious vow of their separation from the wider society they regard as Babylon.”
It’s been suggested that Howellite migrants popularized the hairstyle in Jamaica when they came to the island beginning in the Second World War. Other suggestions include slaves from East India and warriors from Kenya. In those days, Jamaica looked to Africa for cultural inspiration.
But the most likely explanation is that they became more widespread after being adopted by radical Rastafarian movement the Youth Black Faith in the 1940s.
Whatever the truth, locs — as dreadlocks are also known — have also found a home among many black people in the United States, including Kerion. He was shocked that Six Flags didn’t seem to accept them.
He told news outlet Fox 5 Atlanta, “I was very disappointed and confused. (My mom and I) never thought that was in the policy, we read through it and never saw it.”
But there was no way that Kerion was going to comply with the “policy.” He decided that his identity was worth more to him than a vacation job and kept his hairdo. But mom Karis wasn’t going to leave it there.
She got straight onto social media, in the form of Facebook, and let the world know about what had happened to Kerion. And yes, it went viral.
The proud mom wrote, “I spoke with the HR supervisor, and she said they gave him the opportunity to come back when he doesn’t have dreads… she said dreads are NOT allowed, but he can have braids… and said they are an extreme hairstyle… she also went on and compared them to tattoos and piercings.”
But Karis did not leave it there.
Nope. The fierce momma bear had read the policy for herself. She noted to the HR supervisor that, “It says your hair cannot hang more than two inches below your collar and two inches above your head.”
Karis pointed out that the wording didn’t mention dreads, so shouldn’t they have been allowed? According to Karis, the supervisor suggested that she’d become “confused,” and in fact dreadlocks were forbidden.
The Facebook post had a lot more readers than Karis might have imagined. And one of them was Corrie Caster. She works for IMG Models as head of development. When she saw Kerion, she thought he was just what the modeling world needed.
So she passed his details to Austin-based Jones Model Management. It specializes in grooming beginner models before placing them with more sizeable firms.
Agency co-founder Leslie Jones explained that Caster had been impressed by what she had seen. She told Fox 5 Atlanta, “(Corrie) saw Kerion’s story and thought he was beautiful, so she connected him to us.” And when Kerion contacted her agency, she also liked him.
She said, “He was shy at first. But he’s a natural. He is so sweet, so kind, well-spoken, mature and humble.”
As you might imagine, the youngster was a bit nervous when it came to doing a photo session. But he soon started to enjoy it.
He told Fox 5 Atlanta, “As I got used to it — based on what they taught me — it was fun. It was fun to experience taking pictures and walking the way I’m supposed to walk.”
Jones explained that it was all part of the development of young models. They didn’t just gain experience in posing for the camera.
No, they also had to learn how to be a model in other ways, including behaving in front of clients and dealing with casting staff. She said, “We get them exposure to being in front of a camera, get them experience.”
And what Jones’ business has to offer can be crucial for the more inexperienced among her clientele.
She explained, “A lot of our kids are from small cities in the area, and they’ve never been in front of cameras or dealt with big clients such as Gucci or Calvin Klein. We work with them so that they’re ready when they work in larger markets.”
Certainly, Caster believed in the benefit of Jones’ work. She asked him to be sent back to IMG Models when she was done. And Jones saw how well the youngster had responded to his photoshoot.
The agency head was also delighted to support the spread of inclusivity. She said, “His story brings more awareness for people who have natural hair or hairstyles. [Dread]locks aren’t anything extreme.”
As for mom Karis, she could hardly believe the way the situation had developed. She was happy that people had taken Kerion’s side in it, though. She was clear that she felt he’d done the right thing.
She told NBC’s Dallas/Fort Worth affiliate, “My thing with that situation is it was a seasonal job, and I don’t see him cutting off years of growth for something that was seasonal.”
Kerion, meanwhile, was loving the break he’d been given. He hoped to be an inspiration for others. He told Fox 5 Atlanta, “I think it’s great that they got me to where I can truly be myself.
Regardless of your race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, age, or hairstyle type — you can achieve anything with hard work. That’s the message I want people to learn from all of this.”
One organization that did learn from the experience was Six Flags. It changed its policy on dreadlocks, although some might not be convinced by the term “well-groomed” in its statement.
It said, “Male team members may now wear dreadlocks — provided, per our standard guidelines — they are well-groomed and do not extend past the bottom of the collar.”
Whereas Kerion was reluctant to give up his dreads, it was a whole different story for Jordan Reynolds, though. He had worn dreadlocks since childhood; but as teens often do, he decided he needed to change up his look. Jordan wanted to start fresh with a brand-new ’do, and his dad agreed to help with the process. Jordan’s mom, however?
Well, let’s just say she had a different reaction. When she came home and saw her son without dreads for the first time in years, she needed a minute away from the camera.
That fateful haircut was also captured on video. You see, a YouTuber going by the name of Maxbeatbox – who also happens to be Jordan’s dad – filmed the entire process. Maxbeatbox then posted the clip to his channel.
And it’s halfway through the footage that we see Jordan’s mom, Melanie, arriving home to see her newly shorn child.
We don’t know whether Melanie realized Jordan wanted to cut his hair. But nothing could have prepared her for what she saw when she walked through the door on the day that it happened.
She could see what her son’s dreads had been concealing for almost a decade. And now more than eight and a half million people have seen Melanie’s reaction, too.
Some of those folks may have recognized Jordan’s father, as he’s been in the spotlight himself.
Maximillian Reynolds – or just Max to his family and friends – is a professional musician who produces tracks for movies, TV and ads as well as for commercial release. And according to Max’s website, “bass and rich chords will be involved” in the sweet sounds he makes. Nice!
You’d think, then, that Max’s YouTube videos are mainly about his music. Well, you’d be wrong! A lot of the clips actually showcase his impressive talent for beatboxing.
For those of you who don’t know, beatboxing is a skill associated with hip-hop culture. Specifically, it involves recreating the sound of a drum machine using only your mouth, tongue and lips.
Max is a pretty awesome beatboxer, too, if a viral video is anything to go by. Back in 2009, he found internet fame as a beatboxing flight attendant. Yes, you read that right!
He announced the safety procedures to Southwest Airlines passengers in his own unique style. That’s one way to get people to sit up and listen.
But, of course, Max is also a dad, and he encourages his children – oldest son Josiah, middle child Jordan and daughter Eliana – to be creative.
Perhaps because of this, all three of the kids have clear career paths they wish to pursue. Josiah, for instance, is kind of an arty type.
“[Josiah] never played with toys, but he always made his own toys – even at two years old,” Max explained to educational facility Envision in 2019. A teacher at Josiah’s school apparently noticed the little boy’s skills, too.
Max went on, “[The teacher said [that] this wasn’t just engineering, it was art. And my son’s action figures were actually featured in an art gallery.”
However, all three Reynolds kids benefited from their dad appearing on Deal or No Deal in 2019.
And while Max didn’t quite scoop the top prize of $1 million – cashing out instead at $211,000 – the whole family was left in shock when they received an unbelievable gift from the show.
You see, it had been Jordan’s dream to attend an Envision Experience, and the Deal or No Deal producers had made that dream come true. Max later recalled, “I remember the day that Jordan looked at his invitation.
You know how you can get something in the mail and look at it and then forget it because you don’t have the money to do it? That’s what I did.”
Why was Jordan so excited? Well, Envision provides education through practical experience. Basically, it gives kids the opportunity to try out a potential future career – in engineering, say, or medicine – through a program that can be taken on top of regular school.
However, Envision’s courses come at a price, and this cost was something that the Reynolds family couldn’t really afford.
Unless Max came into a lot of money, then, his children weren’t going to have that opportunity. Jordan, though? He’d never let go of his dream of taking Envision’s program in engineering.
So when all three kids were gifted Envision enrollment after the Deal or No Deal show, their collective jaws hit the floor.
Yes, Jordan could now attend the National Youth Leadership Forum in Engineering course he’d had his heart set on. Josiah, meanwhile, was gifted a place at Envision’s International Scholar Laureate Program in China.
As for Eliana? Well, she received an invitation to the Envision Game & Technology Academy. Pretty sweet deals!
Naturally, Max is incredibly proud of his children. He explained to Envision, “I was blessed to have three kids who know what they want to do when they grow up.” But don’t just assume he’s all work and no play.
While Max obviously wants his sons and daughter to excel in life, that doesn’t affect his ability to have fun with them.
In fact, Max and Melanie’s approach to parenting is pretty modern. Not only do they support their kids in whatever they want to do when they grow up, but they also encourage them to express themselves.
And so when Jordan decided that he wanted to show off his personality through his hair, his parents didn’t stand in his way.
You got it: when Jordan was young, he decided to grow his hair into dreadlocks. And nearly a decade on, Jordan decided to cut away the years of growth to simply reveal the handsome young man beneath.
Now, while some folks believe that dreadlocks are dirty, that’s often not the case. In fact, they require a certain amount of routine and care to maintain. The hairstyle comes with quite the heritage, too.
You see, there’s evidence that dreadlocks were worn around 3,600 years ago! Murals depicting the Minoans – people who lived during the Bronze Age – show them wearing their hair in long, ropelike braids.
We’ve also found mummified remains of ancient Egyptians who appear to have been wearing dreadlock-styled hairpieces.
More recent evidence of the style has also been found in Central America. And you may be surprised about this next part.
Literature from the Pre-Columbian Aztec era has described priests as wearing their hair in dreadlocks. Back in the 16th century, religious men went around with dreads of a kind.
Of course, there are plenty of present-day examples of dreadlocks. The distinctive style is popular among Maasai warriors, who wear their dreads thin and colored red.
And the locks hold cultural significance to some people – not least Rastafarians, who took on the look from the Akan people in Ghana.
In the Rastafari movement, dreadlocks represent the Lion of Judah. The Lion is sometimes regarded as a symbol of the late Ethiopian Emperor Haile Selassie, who is a central figure in the religion.
So, naturally, wearing dreads shows you may have a connection to Rastafarianism. They may also remind you of Bob Marley!
Marley played a large part in the growing awareness of Rastafarianism in the 1970s.
And as Rasta themes and beliefs are commonly mentioned in reggae music, knowledge of the movement only increased after reggae – and, in particular, Marley’s songs – achieved global recognition. Now, dreadlocks are almost synonymous with Rastafarianism itself.
But you don’t need to be a Rasta to wear dreadlocks. You may just want a low-maintenance hairstyle, for one!
Once you have your hair in dreads, you see, you can keep it like that for months – maybe even years. And while dreads do need to be kept clean, they’re otherwise a total cinch to maintain.
In fact, if you want to create dreadlocks, it’s best to begin with freshly washed hair. Avoid using conditioners or serums on your tresses, though, as these may actually leave them too soft for what you want to achieve.
Instead, lather up with a purifying shampoo. This should rid the hair of any oils and create a texture more suitable for making dreadlocks.
Then divide your hair up into uniform sections that each measure around one inch in width. After that, tie each segment up with an elastic band to keep it separate from the rest.
These tails will form the basis of the dreadlocks – so the smaller the sections, the thinner the locks will be. Ultimately, though, the thickness is entirely up to you.
Each tail also needs to be backcombed near the roots using a dread comb or wire brush. Take time to make sure every section is nice and even, starting roughly an inch from the base of the head.
Then ensure that that tail is tightly packed before moving further down. If you typically have pretty straight hair, secure each section with elastic to hold the dreadlocks in place.
At this point, you’re almost done, but there are just a couple more steps. Each of the dreadlocks needs to be waxed with a product without petroleum so that there’s no icky build-up.
So, using just a small amount of your chosen wax, coax a dread into shape between the palms and manipulate it with your fingers. Doing this will fix the dreads that you create into position, too, leaving you free to remove the elastic bands.
And this process can be seen in a different video featuring Jordan that Max posted to YouTube in 2019.
But while it’s fairly normal for teenagers to change their image every now and again, Jordan had held fast, keeping his own dreads for years on end.
Max appears to be pretty happy about that.
In September 2014 he posted a photo of Josiah, Jordan and Eliana to Facebook along with the caption, “I’m really proud that my kids represent the full spectrum of ethnic hairstyles.” By this point, Jordan’s dreadlocks were already long.
When Jordan was about to turn 14, however, he felt that it was time for a change. Yes, that meant cutting the dreads he had spent years cultivating – even since he had been a kid, in fact.
And, altogether, that meant Melanie hadn’t seen her son without dreads since he was around five years old.
Melanie would be surprised, then, when she got in the door and saw Jordan without his nine-year-old dreadlocks. In a video posted to Max’s YouTube channel in February 2016, the teenager can be seen patiently sitting at the Reynolds’ kitchen table.
He is shirtless, with his long locks cascading over his bare shoulders and a determined look on his face.
Then, in speeded-up footage, Max sets about meticulously shearing off his son’s dreadlocks one at a time.
But while simply slicing dreads away is one option for getting rid of them, it is possible to follow another method if you don’t want to be left with a shaved head or a pixie cut.
Take it from Staci Linklater, the director of Las Vegas hairstylists Globe Salon. When she realized it was time to remove her dreadlocks, she wanted to do so while still keeping some length to her hair.
And thanks to her years of experience, she was able to come up with a method that didn’t make her practically bald.
To begin with, Staci had a trim in order to improve the overall condition of her hair. Regardless of how well-maintained dreadlocks are, the ends will be badly damaged – so these should be chopped off anyway.
And by cutting a small section off the bottom of the hair, you’ll not only save time, but you’ll also make working out the locks a little easier.
Then, by smothering the dreads in oil and keeping them damp throughout, Staci was able to tease the locks out of her hair with a comb.
This process was incredibly time-consuming, though, as each of her 105 dreadlocks took up to 45 minutes to completely untangle.
All in all, then, removing the dreads took more than a day to achieve – even with a team of professional hairstylists to help.
And because Staci’s hair was accustomed to forming knots, it also started to become matted again overnight. There needed to be further oiling and braiding, then, to keep her tresses smooth.
After that, Staci enjoyed a pampering treat that she hadn’t experienced for quite a while. She went through hair conditioning treatments and a cut-and-styling process that left her mane soft and silky.
And although the director ultimately lost more than a foot off the length of her hair, it was still below shoulder length.
Jordan, on the other hand, wasn’t bothered about keeping his hair long. That meant his dad could use a more common and much faster dread-removal method: simply chopping each lock off.
Then Max set about tidying up his son’s fresh new cut with hair clippers. And while the transformation may have had a less glamorous end result than Staci’s, the effect was still jaw-dropping.
The change was one that Melanie seemingly hadn’t been prepared for, either. In any case, when the mom returned to the family’s Roseville, California, home, the camera turned to her for her reaction to Jordan’s new look.
And as Melanie opened the door, the sight of her shorn son made her stop in her tracks.
Melanie was so stunned, in fact, that she started to cry. That’s understandable. After all, it had been nearly a decade since she had seen her son with short hair!
The mother of three was so emotional that when she was asked to comment on the transformation, she requested that the camera be turned off.
Then, the following day, Jordan paid a visit to “the most amazing barber in town” for his first professional haircut in years. But we should tell you that the teenager didn’t entirely swear off dreads altogether. He’s actually since put his hair back in the style.
And in February 2019, Max completed the circle by posting a video in which he demonstrated how to begin creating dreads for yourself.
Yes, switching up hairstyles can totally change your look – that’s for sure. Just ask Connecticut librarian Wendy, who hadn’t cut her incredibly long, curly hair in over eight years.
But she was ready for a boost of confidence, so she signed up for a makeover – and the incredible result left her looking like a brand-new woman.
Librarian Wendy had been known for having extra-long hair for most of her life. By the time she went onto TV’s Rachael Ray show, though, she was ready for a change.
And her first haircut in eight and a half years completely transformed her appearance.
Bridgeport, Connecticut, resident Wendy had always let her hair grow to super-long lengths – and her flowing locks had made up her signature look for years.
“People know me by my hair,” she said on Rachael Ray in October 2018.
That look went well with Wendy’s fashion style, too, which she calls bohemian.
“I like flowy skirts and dresses and colors and patterns and florals,” she said. “The world should have more color in it.”
However, by the time Wendy appeared on the TV talk show, she had perhaps taken that boho theme too far. She was 49 years old and hadn’t had a haircut in eight and a half years.
With a big birthday on the horizon, then, Wendy knew it was time to switch up her look.
“I’ve always loved my long hair, but now that I’m about to turn 50. I think it’s time for a change,” Wendy said. There were several reasons for her decision.
For starters, she said her hair – which reached her lower back – had become “difficult to take care of.”
“When my hair is this long, sometimes it gets stuck in things. It gets stuck in people’s glasses, in people’s jewelry. Sometimes I close a door on it,” Wendy said with a laugh.
Her solution? Always put her hair up in a bun or weave it into a braid.
Secondly, Wendy thought her hair could potentially be having a detrimental effect on her personal and professional lives.
She works as a part-time librarian, and at the time of the show’s taping, she reported that she was single.
“I absolutely love my job at the library, and I wish it were full time... So I’ve been interviewing for more full-time work,” Wendy explained.
“I think that a fresh new look would give me more confidence, and maybe it’ll be the same with going on dates.”
But most importantly of all, Wendy wanted a makeover to honor her mother, who had passed away at 50 – an age that Wendy herself was now about to turn.
“[Being] 50 is much more meaningful for me than it would’ve been if [Mom] had been around,” Wendy admitted.
“In her honor, I want to just really live my life to the fullest and be the best me I can be,” Wendy concluded.
And with that, she began her makeover journey on Rachael Ray – a show that, however, typically centers around its host’s well-known cooking expertise.
In fact, Ray had been apprehensive when she’d initially allowed makeovers into her food-centric series’ line-up.
“When we first started the show, I’m like, ‘Everybody does makeovers; let’s not do makeovers.’ And then we started doing them and... I’m like, ‘Oh my god, I love these! They’re so fun,’” she admitted.
Ray’s excitement was certainly palpable as she stood by Wendy’s side, holding her hand as celebrity stylist Ted Gibson readied his shears.
“So, are we gonna make the first cut?” Ray asked Gibson before turning to Wendy to wonder if she was “freaked out by cutting off a lot of hair.”
Wendy again touched upon her own history with lengthy locks – but said she was prepared to close that chapter.
“I’ve been known for my hair forever, so I am a little bit [freaked out], but I’m really ready,” she told Ray.
Wendy also revealed that she had cut and donated her hair three times prior to her appearance on Rachael Ray – and that she’d be donating her clippings this time, too.
Then, with that, Gibson got his scissors ready, while Ray reassured Wendy that the new look was “not short.”
As the show’s live audience cheered, Gibson finished cutting through Wendy’s ponytail.
And although she had the rest of her makeover to go, Wendy was clearly already shocked by her shorter hair. She asked, “Oh my gosh. Can I touch it?”
Wendy’s complete transformation came later, though – after she had received a full cut and color as well as a new outfit.
And when she made her way on stage, viewers clapped and cheered her stunning transformation.
For her part, Wendy couldn’t believe the new look, which she got to see for the first time while she was up there in front of everyone.
“Oh, my God!” she exclaimed as she examined her short hair, which now had a gingery hue. “Wow!” she added as she then looked more closely.
Ray couldn’t believe the transformation, either, and she spoke directly to the man responsible for dyeing Wendy’s locks to a new, warm hue.
“Oh my god, Jason! Look at that color!” the stunned talkshow host exclaimed.
Of course, though, the makeover’s ultimate success depended upon Wendy’s approval. And the librarian made it clear that she felt incredible after having had her extra-long hair chopped off.
In fact, just as Ray asked her if she liked her new look, she started to cry.
Wendy admitted to the talk show host that seeing her reflection was like having a stranger staring back at her. “I honestly don’t recognize myself,” she said. But that was a good thing. “I feel like such a different person,” Wendy added.
“I feel so free and light and…” At that point, though, she had to trail off. The audience were clapping too loudly for the transformed librarian, who was walking into a new chapter of her life with a brand-new look.