Taming my Pelo Malo for Years
Have you ever sat in a beauty parlor chair with your head pulled back, tucking your ears with your hands, with an awful smell of burnt hair lingering in the air, and praying with great distress that the salonera would finally finish? Well, I have and it was the story of my life for over 15 years.
When I was 8 years old my mother decided to chemically relax my hair because it was “unruly” or in good Dominican, it was pelo malo. Throughout my high school and college years I continued this process because it was what I understood to be the key to feeling and being beautiful.
I remember that very strange new growth that would come in every two months, reminding me that I needed to go to the beauty supply. I would purchase the strongest relaxer (“super”), the slim tooth comb (peine de palito) and the pair of gloves for the process. I hated every part of it: the smell of rotten eggs of the relaxer and the burns on my scalp, but to me it was all worth it in the end—it made me pretty.
Embracing My Natural Hair, Embracing Myself
Almost two years ago I decided to leave the relaxers, rolos, irons, and blow dryers behind to embrace the kinky, curly hair that grows out of my scalp. I wanted so badly to see what my natural hair looked like. I couldn’t remember how my natural hair looked and the pictures didn’t do it justice. I decided to transition for two months, cutting my relaxed hair every two weeks until July 4,th when I decided to do the Big Chop (cut off all of the chemically or heat processed hair). There was a war of textures in my head and the kinks and curls won!
I went natural because I felt like it was time to question the standards of beauty that I had been taught throughout my life, and those standards that continue to be promoted on TV, magazines, billboards, novelas, and society at large. I was tired of trying to be something I wasn’t and I was ready to just be me and to love all of me!
Fear is the best word to describe the very beginning of my going natural process. I was afraid of what people around me would say. Afraid of how I would look without my long, straight hair that had once defined my beauty. I was afraid of the unknown and fear itself. However, in just a few months, all of this fear turned into excitement, liberation, and this undeniable feeling of self-love. I am excited to share my journey, stories, consejitos and tips with you! So if you are thinking about going natural, currently transitioning or your simply curious about natural hair, then join me!
New Natural Hair Column!
Editor’s Note: We are excited to announce a new column on New Latina, focusing on the process of going natural and the care of our beautiful hair! Carolina will be our regular contributor and will be sharing her natural hair journey, tips and advice on loving your beautiful, natural hair. Stay tuned for this wonderful column! If you have questions on how on going natural, please submit your questions below.