At the age of seven, my roots decided to take on its pure form, and my strands grew out thick and curly. For my mother this was unfamiliar territory and became hard to maintain. She cared for my hair the best way she knew how which included a strict hair regime of routine relaxer treatments and blowouts. As a little girl, I thought nothing of it. It was the norm, and I, like many others at the time, equated straight hair with beauty.
As the years went on, relaxer treatments became less glamourous and increasingly torturous. Everything about it began to feel like a punishment. The length of my hair slowly faded, and the presence of spilt ends took over my life. I hated it! At the age of 18, out of frustration, I did away with relaxers forever, and I unintentionally transitioned. The day I cut my relaxed ends off, I watched as my hair spiraled up. My jaw dropped instantaneously as I had lived most of my life without knowing what my hair looked like without processing. I was both amazed and worried. My curls were there, but I lacked in length.
I continued to straighten my hair faithfully and made frequent trips to the Dominican Hair Salon, a place where God had blessed the styling tools, and the hairdressers could effortlessly turn a fierce pajon into a silky-maned paradise. There were days where I would march my way to the salon, determined to leave with my neck snapping side to side so that those on the block could bear witness to the fabulousness of my fresh blowout.
This day was no different. I was on a mission to tame my tresses. Upon entering the salon, the smoke from the blowers floated in the air, and the hairdressers darted their eyes towards me. To my disappointment, my preferred stylist Milagros was nowhere to found.
“Hi… Wash and Set, please?” I timidly pleaded. Without Milagros, I would have a tough time communicating.
“Espera 20 minutos. Siéntese por favor”. One of the hairdressers responded while the rest continued their work.
The comradeship surrounding the women in the salon was magnetizing. The absence of men allowed the freedom of fierce feminine expression. They shared incredible stories, participated in perpetual debates, and engaged in endless laughter; all things I wish I could have been a part of. Undoubtedly my broken Spanish played a role in my inability to do so. They were so proud, so confident, and so happy right where they were. It was typical that I would sit quietly, and people watch or get lost in a novel while waiting for my turn.
“Ven.” The shampoo girl called me over.
I cautiously gave her a fair warning, “I’m sorry. My Spanish is not that good. I can understand, though.” I admitted.
“That’s okay.” She politely smiled as she turned the water on.
Her technique was firm but gentle. I expected her nails to be like talons scraping across my sensitive scalp; however, my experience with her was the complete opposite. This shampoo girl was a breath of fresh air, and when she massaged my scalp, I felt all of life’s given tension flee my body.
“Your rizos are very pretty.” She said.
“Really?” I was stunned.
“Si, claro.” She said while lathering my strands.
“Thank you!” I beamed. “Growing up, all I heard was Pelo Malo. It’s surprising to hear you say that.”
“Pelo Malo no existe.” She began laughing, “Si tu te alisas demasiado, your hair can break.”
And there it was. The divine intervention I most desperately needed. It wasn’t found in the “sacred” hands of hairdressers but rather in the laughter of the shampoo girl. She gave me confirmation of what I was feeling deep down all along; my hair was just fine the way it was. I left the salon feeling a different type of confidence.
At home, I got lost in the Natural Hair abyss on YouTube. I learned where these self-inflicting beauty standards originated and how deeply rooted these ideals continued through generations. It took years for me to shed off the stigma of “unruly” hair and step out in my natural glory. My hair is full of life and I no longer seek to have it straightened every few weeks.
Pelo malo no exsite…
Who knew one statement could have such an impact? #DominiRicanIsh
Comment below and share your thoughts!
Check out my sisters hair Curl Smith product review!
Her IG post on natural hair!
//www.instagram.com/embed.jsView this post on Instagram
Let’s get real for a second. I am a Puerto Rican and Dominican woman. My pride in my heritage runs deep. 🇵🇷 🇩🇴 • • • Growing up my hair was difficult to tame because of how curly it was. I would relax my hair every six months. This chemical process is extremely damaging. Having “Pelo muerto” Or “dead hair” was something that many women I knew with curly hair sought after. • • • People would use words like “nappy” and “kinky” when they would talk about curly hair. I still hear people using these terms. Over the years I guess I internalized this and felt that my curly hair wasn’t beautiful. I fully own that I am personally responsible for my own perceptions and feelings, but we cannot ignore society’s contribution to the message being sent to women of color and curly or natural hair. Just type the word “beauty” into your google search bar and have a scroll. • • • There is nothing wrong with straight hair. In fact, I like to straighten my hair from time to time. However, this comes from a different space. I don’t straighten my hair because I’m self conscious about my curls. I straighten my hair because I like to change my look up sometimes. • • • I say this to acknowledge all of my sisters who struggle with loving their curly hair! Be wild. Be bold. Be beautiful. Embrace your mane. Embrace the lioness. You were not created to be tamed! You are a GODDESS! • • • #naturalhairjourney #naturalhair #hair #naturalhaircommunity #curlyhair #teamnatural #naturalhairstyles #curls #naturalhairdaily #natural #hairgoals #healthyhair #hairgrowth #naturalista #afro #naturallyshesdope #healthyhairjourney #naturalhaircare #type #bighair #coils #healthy #latina #veganlatina #beauty #hairgoals #lionness #dominican #puertorican