In the journey to achieving natural hair acceptance throughout the Dominican Republic, some of the biggest victories include allowing women to wear their hair as they please to work or for their cedulas. And even in ads – which often peddle unrealistic and narrow beauty standards – there’s been a shift to include more natural hair, according to publicist Virginia Perdomo. Lala Film’s 100 Years of Beauty in the DR echoes this by proclaiming 2016 the year of the pajón.
Unfortunately, despite how many strides are made, detractors will always exist – a lesson Carolina Contreras, aka Miss Rizos, the owner of a Santo Domingo natural hair salon, has learned time and again. Last week, she posted a lengthy message on her Facebook account about a 16-year-old woman whose school told her to stay away until she straightened her hair. “This is going to sound like something out of a movie, but it’s something that happened in the salon this week. A young woman of 16 who made the big cut here called crying,” she began her post. “I almost couldn’t understand her through her sobbing.” Contreras went on to explain that at the girl’s Catholic school, the administration refused to register her because of her natural hair. They went as far as making her sign a document saying she could only return with straight hair. “This has to be unconstitutional,” Miss Rizos added.
Not only did the school turn its back on the student, so did her mother. While Miss Rizos attentively listened to the heartbreaking story, the girl’s mother interrupted and hurled insults at her. The mother threatened to complain to the prosecutor’s office and threatened that she’d sue the salon owner for “poisoning” her daughter’s mind.
“My heart is broken for this young lady who surely feels horrible and alone,” she added, before explaining that recently, she worked on a customer’s hair for eight hours and her family insulted her. Her dad even stopped talking to her for days following the change to natural. “These stories ground us in reality and they show us that there’s a lot of work to be done,” she said. “These are only the stories that we hear, but there are many more that we don’t learn of. To these girls and women, I want you to know that you’re not alone. Be patient, because things are changing, and you’re not crazy to want to be the way you are! There’s nothing wrong with loving your hair the way it comes out of your head.” ?? ?? ??, Miss Rizos. And if you need further proof that what Contreras says is true, then check out these Brazilian women embracing their glorious natural hair at the Marcha Do Empoderamento Crespo in Salvador.