From a young age, it’s been ingrained in me that long, straight hair is what was desirable. Being Dominican, the whiter you look the prettier you’re considered. My curls did not fit that narrative, while they weren’t kinky or extremely coarse they still weren’t straight. Pale skin, straight hair, and thin is what was considered beautiful and I wasn’t any of those things.
About a month ago, I was dealing with some emotional stuff and couldn’t focus on anything else. I also had just washed my hair, which I usually let air dry before I straighten. However, I got so distracted that I completely forgot to do my hair. I took a look in the mirror and for the first time I didn’t hate my hair. I didn’t feel like I was cursed with a ball of frizz on my head. For the first time I saw my curls in their glory.
The summer humidity had caused me to start deep conditioning my hair to tame the frizz. The side effect was that my curls ended up gaining back their shape. For the first time in my life, I didn’t hate my hair. I ended up spending days researching how to take care of curly hair. I also am not ashamed to admit I spent a little more than I had buying new hair products suited to my hair type. I decided in that moment of emotional turmoil that I was done damaging my hair.
Ever since I was a little girl, I’ve had a horrible relationship with my hair. I have curls that do what they want and frizz up. Growing up my hair was taken care of in the wrong way, because I was never taught the right way. I inherited my curls from my mother who unfortunately wasn’t taught how to take care of hers. Curly hair was always straighten, braided, or relaxed. I had “pelo malo” which directly translate to “bad hair” and it had to be taken care of.
The first time I got my hair straighten I was five. When I looked in the mirror, I felt so beautiful. I wanted my hair to look and feel like that all the time. I was bullied all through elementary school, especially for my looks. Every time I got my hair done I felt like I was a whole new person, a prettier person. It was a way to temporarily get rid of some of my insecurities.
The Dominican blowout, is one of the the most famous things you can get at a Latinx salon. I learned how to do it myself at the age of fifteen and for years I would do it once a week, every week. I didn’t care that my curls has suffered because I only wanted straight hair. My hair dried out, my curls lost their shape, and wouldn’t grow passed my shoulders. I sacrificed my hair’s health to maintain the illusion of straight hair.
I have curls. They don’t always look great and I can’t really control them but they are mine. My hair is a part of me, one that I no longer wish to hide. I cut my hair into a pixie cut to get rid of the dead ends and I am letting it grow the way it was intended too. Letting my hair just be has been one of the most liberating things, I’ve ever done.