End of an era: Clemens to shave dreadlocks

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End of an era: Clemens to shave dreadlocks

Story by EJ Carter

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He can be identified from a mile away.

Dressed casually, junior McLain Clemens strolls across Baker University’s campus on his way to class, a daily routine for him and many other students.

What sets him apart from the other students is his hairstyle – a long, full set of golden dreadlocks reaching down to the middle of his back.

“They are about three, almost four years old,” Clemens said while playfully running his hands through his hair.

For some, being one of the few people on a college campus sporting an unusual hairstyle can be a source of stress and self-consciousness. For Clemens, the dreadlocks have been a way to stand apart from the social norms and focus on internal growth.

However, these days are soon coming to an abrupt end.

Clemens recently announced he is shaving off his full set of dreadlocks to sport a more clean-cut and professional look.

“Soon, I will be graduating and entering the job force,” Clemens said. “I feel like someone may judge or look over me because of my hairstyle. You shouldn’t judge someone on how they look the first time you meet them, but in the working world it happens. I think it will make me look more professional.”

Despite the patience and commitment that it took to don his dreadlocks, Clemens, an Oklahoma native, is preparing to cut his hair in December.

“When I first started, my hair was about three inches long, and we put it in rubber bands to keep them together,” Clemens said. “I’m not even going to lie, I looked like an idiot for a while. I had these little worm-like things in my hair with rubber bands everywhere. I told myself to stick with it because it would eventually pay off, and it did.”

As a member of the Delta Tau Delta fraternity, a running back for the BU football team, a business major and a faithful boyfriend in a four-year relationship, Clemens is definitely no stranger to commitment.

“My girlfriend hates them,” Clemens said while laughing. “But that doesn’t really play a factor in whether or not I want to cut them. I was committed to having the dreadlocks, and now I need to make the commitment to this next phase in my life. I feel like it is time for a change.”

Aside from being Clemens’s main identifiable trait, the dreadlocks have also inspired other students to participate in dread-locking journeys of their own.

“He definitely was an influence,” senior Clayton Hill, a teammate of Clemens, said. “His dreadlocks are pretty badass, so seeing them all the time at practice made me want to get my own.”

While many students may not realize the amount of work that goes in the maintenance of the dreadlock hairstyle, Clemens’ work ethic is easily recognizable on the football field, where many of his teammates are used to seeing him with a head full of hair.

“McLain is a really tough player,” sophomore teammate Matthew Ma’Umalanga said. “He works very hard on the field. He displays a lot of heart and always has a positive attitude. Seeing him without dreadlocks will feel a little weird because I’m so used to seeing him with them. I’m sure he won’t change as a person, but playing with him would feel a little different.”

Although the moment of his haircut is imminent, Clemens still gives favorable and encouraging advice to those aspiring to have dreadlocks that will one day reach his current length.

“I’m a business major, so a lot of success depends on presentation,” Clemens said. “I think as long as you keep them looking good and neat, you will be all right. There will be some days when you want to get rid of them and they seem like a pain, but stick it out until you know for sure that you are ready to cut them.”